Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) first published The Lorax in 1971. And, it was destined to join the ranks of his most popular (and controversial) children’s books.
Yep, you probably know about The Cat in the Hat, and Green Eggs and Ham. They’re tongue-twister classics, with the most marvelous illustrations. But, do you know that The Lorax appeared on the “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children” list (National Education Association), as well as the “Top 100 Picture Books” list (School Library Journal). It’s crazy memorable, poignant, and even has a message that may just save the trees.
Controversy – Banned book
Of course, the popularity is great! It’s been widely adapted, and beloved by readers, young and old. With that madcap bestseller status, though, there’s the other side of the story. Beyond the rave reviews, The Lorax has inspired controversy, even censorship and book banning.
Parents have cited it’s controversial “environmentalist” message. It’s been a debate over: “Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.” In Laytonville Unified School District (1989), parents proclaimed their opposition to the book with a full-page ad: “Teachers…mock the timber industry, and some of our kids are being brainwashed… We’ve got to stop this crap right now!”
Art Harwood, a manager at the local sawmill, furthered the same sentiment: “Our industry is under attack… [the environmentalists] are trying to hang the ozone and the rain forest on us, and it’s easy to take that Lorax and use it against us too.” He said, “it’s stressful on the child when he has to choose between Dr. Seuss and Daddy.”