Friday, December 12, 2008

Banned, Censored, Challenged: The Lorax

This is a banned Dr Seuss book. You shouldn't be surprised:the point of censorship is to block ideas.

The Lorax is classic Seuss: zany, whimsical language with an underlying lesson. In this book, an unnamed narrator tells how he made Thneeds (the thing everyone needs) from a chopped down Truffula Tree. The Lorax (who speaks for the trees) warns the narrator against doing this, but he doesn't listen.

Eventually, every truffula tree is gone and the air is filled with smoke, so the Lorax and all the animals leave. I still read this book for pleasure. I read it at least once a week and I love sharing it with children I know.

But the book nazis of the Laytonville, Calif. Unified School District didn't think so. They banned the book in 1989 because it "criminalizes the foresting industry".

What are they saying? That if a child reads this, they might think chopping down too many trees is bad? And they're right- that's just what Lorax readers are meant to think. In fact, the foresting industry is required to re-plant for this very reason.

In fact, the last scene of the book shows the Once-ler giving a seed to the boy- the last of the Truffula seeds.

The foresting industry should have been able to use this book to their advantage- if they don't destroy all the trees, if they don't put junk in the water, if they aren't disrupting the eco-system, then this book should never have been a threat to them. This book criticizes these actions.

While others continue to insist that this book is communist, a child would read in it the idea that people should be responsible for the environment.

1 comment:

Cat Connor said...

That was my favorite Dr. Seuss book. My kids loved it too. I think they even gleaned a thing or two from the message...

How marvelous that good old Dr. Seuss upset people enough to get his book banned!

By the way the forestry industry in NZ is required to re-plant. ;-)
Renewable resources are fabulous things!