Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#3130. Allegory and Dr Seus

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Wed May 26 12:43:22 PDT 2004 by Diane Hayashi (
Stelly's School, Saanichton, Canada
Materials Required: The Sneetches, The Lorax, The Butter Battle Book
Activity Time: 1 week
Concepts Taught: Allegory

Diane Hayashi, teacher-librarian
Stelly's Secondary School, SD 63

This lesson was developed to introduce Grade 10 Honours students to the concept of allegory. The intention is that it be used as a lead into Animal Farm.

Day One -- in the classroom:
1. Divide class into groups of 3.
Teacher-librarian reads The Sneetches, The Lorax, and The Butter Battle Book to the class.
2.Give each group copies of the stories, a large sheet of newsprint, and several coloured markers.
3.Teacher-librarian reads The Sneetches, The Lorax, and The Butter Battle Book to the class.
4.Students will write down anything that strikes them interesting -- parallels to any situations, interesting phrases, what does it make them think of, word association, etc.
5.Students share what they have written within their groups
6.Have each group write the one thing they thought was most important about each story up on the board.
8.Discuss with the whole class what has been written on the board.
9.Give students a definition of allegory to write down.
10.Discuss what is allegorical about these books.
11.Hand out timeline of the life of Dr. Seus. Discuss why Dr. Seuss might have chosen these topics.

Day Two -- in classroom/library:
1.In the classroom, give students part one of the assignment.
2.Teacher-librarian outlines where students should be looking for information and how to do a bibliography.
3.Students go to the library and finish part one of the assignment.

Day Three -- in the classroom/library:
1.In the classroom, give students part two of the assignment.
2.Teacher-librarian outlines where students should be looking for information.
3.Students go to the library and finish part two of the assignment.

Day Four -- in the classroom/library
1.Students look for a current event for part three of the assignment using newspapers, CBC on-line, CNN on-line, and online database.

Day Five & Six -- in the classroom
1.Students work on part three of the assignment.

Assignment due on Day Seven.


Part One: Dr. Seuss wrote many allegories on many different subjects. Draw a time-line of Dr. Seuss's life and write a paragraph telling us which issues he felt passionate about and why. Cite your sources.

Part Two: Look at the story of The Butter Battle Book. This is an allegory of the Cold War. What aspects of The Butter Battle Book mirror events or objects of the Cold War? Find at least two and write a paragraph on each. Cite your sources.

Part Three: Find a current event. Research aspects of the event -- try to look at more than one side. Decide how you feel about this event (i.e., which side do you support) and write a children's book that is an allegory of the event. You do not have to write it in a Seussian style but you should illustrate it. If you are not comfortable with doing your own artwork, you may use magazine cutouts.

Bedno, D. (2000). The Dr Seuss web page. Retrieved April 2, 2003 from

Dr Seuss went to war. (2000). Retrieved April 2, 2003 from

Hurst, C. & Otis, R. (1999). Carol Hurst's children's literature site: Featured author Dr Seuss. Retrieved April 2, 2003 from

Morgan, J. & Morgan, N. (1996). Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel. N.Y. Da Capo Pr.

Seussville. (2003). Retrieved April 2, 2003 from


March 2, 1904 -- Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield MA

1925 -- Graduated from Dartmouth College. Proceeded to Oxford University with the goal of getting a doctorate degree in English Literature, however he discovered that studying about literature was not for him. Met Helen Palmer.

1927 -- Married Helen Palmer. Returned from Europe and began working for Judge, the leading humour magazine at the time, writing humourous articles and cartoons. He was also writing and drawing for Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty magazines. He was also hired by Standard Oil to draw humourous ads about Flit Insecticide. He spent 15 years in advertising.

1936 -- On a trip to Europe, through the rhythm of the ship's engines, he was inspired to write And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It was published in 1937.

1943 -- Although he was not an advocate of war, he was disturbed by what he saw happening in Europe and in Asia. He provided from 3 to 5 political cartoons per week to PM magazine. He felt, however, he needed to do more for the war effort.

1944-45 -- Joined the army and went to Hollywood to write for Frank Capra's Signal Corps Unit and to do documentaries such as Hitler Lives and Design for Death.

1948 -- Moved to his home in La Jolla. Billboards and construction disturbing the peace of his community triggered an awareness and concern for the environment.

1954 -- Because of a Life article on illiteracy amongst school children, he became concerned about books available for children to learn to read.

1967 -- Helen Palmer Geisel died.

1968 -- Married Audrey Stone Diamond.

1970's -- Through the influence of his second wife, Audrey, he began to address much bigger issues in his books than in the past.

1980's -- The build-up of nuclear arms and the heating up of the Cold War during the Reagan administration caused him a great deal of concern.

September 24, 1991 -- Theodor Seuss Geisel died.