What Do Kids Think of The Lorax?

by Sarene Marshall, The Nature Conservancy

We are a family of quite dedicated Dr. Seuss fans – when my husband and I got married and combined our book collections, we discovered we owned two copies of The Cat in the Hat.  Our two girls (now 6 and 7 ½) have been immersed in Seuss’ writings since before birth.  The first book we ever read them was Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go – a veritable tour through dozens of Dr. Seuss’ books, featuring Horton, Cindy-Lou Who and a range of other characters from some of his most beloved books.  Oh, Baby is subtitled “A Book to be Read in Utero” and contains an interesting forward by Dr. Seuss’ widow about the late author’s interest in babies’ ability to hear sound while in the womb.

Whether it’s proof that the in-utero reading worked or not, I don’t know, but we moved on from there to many, many bedtimes accompanied by The Cat in the Hat; One Fish, Two Fish; Green Eggs and Ham; and many other Seuss and Seuss-inspired beginner books.

Although we have always owned Seuss’ more advanced stories, we had only read a few of them before other characters and genres (including lots of Fancy Nancy!) took over our nighttime reading rituals and the Seuss books got left on the shelf more often than not.  And how ironic that, given I spend my days at The Nature Conservancy working to protect forests, our girls had never read Seuss’ quintessential environmental tale, The Lorax!

So, it was with great excitement that we took advantage of the release of The Lorax movie – a rare opportunity to be able to connect my profession with a time-tested, kid-friendly story.  And, even better than that, we were given the chance to see the movie before it was out in theaters – courtesy of The Nature Conservancy’s partnership with Universal Pictures, which aims to engage movie-goers in a campaign to bring Earth’s current equivalent of a Truffula forest back to life.  In preparation for our field trip to the theater, we dusted off our copy of The Lorax story, and our girls excitedly produced colorful interpretations of Lorax characters and scenes.

sarene marshall daughter lorax drawing

Since many critics and moviegoers have now shared their reviews of the film, I’ll withhold mine.  But I thought it would be fun to see what my daughters thought of it.  After all, like many parents, I am often surprised and entertained by how different my children’s views can be on an experience we (theoretically) have shared.  Among their reactions:

  • Despite excitement about the perks of going to the exclusive screening (including an early departure from school, an afternoon with mom, nice goody bag with T-shirts and pencils and bragging rights with their friends, they were slightly disappointed that the American Motion Picture Association Screening Room did not allow popcorn or drinks.
  • They – presumably like most kids – were enthralled by the bright 3D visuals, the adventure (bed going down a waterfall), many of the jokes (disco mode on the automatic tree anyone?) and songs.
  • As to the underlying environmental message, it seems I’ve been doing my job at home, because they said emphatically that they would not want to live in Thneedville, because “there’s nothing natural there.”

That got us talking about why we would want to keep forests alive.  To pass the time on our metro ride home, they came up with a list of things trees are good for.  Clean air – not surprisingly, given the movie’s message – was first on the list.  The others:

  • Shade and shelter – from the sun and rain
  • Food – like apples, peaches and pears
  • Beautiful colors (from leaves and flowers) that “make us cheerful”
  • Fun (supporting a zip-line or tire swing, providing endless hiding spots for backyard games)
  • Homes for animals

Practically, they also noted what we cut trees down for – firewood, paper, and furniture.  Given a bit more time, I’m sure they also would have mentioned the benefits of climate control.  After all, forests are the world’s lungs and air conditioners – the reason why keeping them standing, and replanting forests we’ve lost, is an important effort in helping keep the planet cool and safe.

So I’m thrilled that The Lorax encourages all of us to reflect on how nature makes our lives better and reminds me why I do what I do everyday.  What lessons has The Lorax taught you and your family about nature? Share your stories in the comments section below.

Sarene Marshall is the managing director for The Nature Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Team. She holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and an MA in International Studies from University of Pennsylvania, and is fluent in Spanish. Sarene, a mother of two, enjoys gardening and gourmet cooking.

[Image #1: The author's daughters attend a screening of The Lorax.  Image #2: Sarene's daughter, Lucy, draws her own illustration of the Lorax. Credit: Sarene Marshall.]


Kiana S.
Kiana S5 years ago

I haven't seen the film, but I've heard pretty mixed reviews. If it promotes conversation about environmental issues with the next generation then it mustn't have totally missed the mark though. I hope it's starting similar conversations in less environmentally minded families as well!

Myriam G.
Myriam G5 years ago

Though my 2 youngers children don't speak english, I fondly remember one evening when we were camping, and by the fireside, a neighbour and friend who had a child pretty much the sem age as mine, came to read a bed time story, it was "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish". We had read, translating, and miming the story, looking at the pictures by the light of flashlights... Thank you, Susan, for friendship and for raising my awareness of English litt. Thank you Dr Seuss'.

Which got me thinking... My girls haven't heard of the Lorax yet, and I don't plan on taking them to see that movie. So, maybe I should get a copy of Dr Seuss' Lorax and give it to the older one, who started learning english in school. We could have fun once more, reading, miming and translating for the youngest, and looking at the beautiful pictures together.

Kamryn M.
Kay M5 years ago


Dominic C.
Dominic C5 years ago

Sorry that I vote no because I do not have kids. But if I have kids definitely its a "yes."
Whatever formal social or environmental education for children, its good. But the problem with the Lorax issue is that its becoming commercialized. I still think that perhaps the good will still outweighs the bad in this sense because when its "commercialized" it quietly seeps into those who actually do not think much about environmental issues. This somehow will generate some form of indirect education and thus create some form of awareness. Bottomline - there will less morons in society.

Laurie Peterson Sudol
Laurie S5 years ago

We boys and I love Dr Seuss. He is one of my favorite authors and we loved The Lorax!! :)

Krystyna H.
Krystyna H5 years ago

But hasn't there been controversy about The Lorax attaching itself to some 70 product placements, among them a Mazda SUV and the International House of Pancakes, which is hardly healthy food?

Here's the story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/03/is-the-lorax-pushing-green-doctrine-or-suvs-and-pancakes.html

And here is a link to Stephen Colbert's making the same point on the movie of The Lorax. It's hilarious but it shows a totally different perspective than the article above:
http://deadspin.com/5888838/stephen-colbert-uses-verse-to-express-his-disappointment-with-the-loraxs-many-product-tie ins?tag=productplacement

Christeen Anderson
Christeen A5 years ago

I love that little tree-hugger.

Monica D.
Monica D5 years ago

Thank you for this article. It is also good that you take the metro - public transport is an ecofriendly way to go.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago

I don't have kids, but I always used to read them when I was younger ^^

Gigi Roberts
Gigi Roberts5 years ago

Purely inspirational, allows our children's imagination to expound to great heights. . . . Wildly fun with over the top rainbows of colors for the vividly drawn. I thought it was absolutely amazing, my 4yr old little boy says; "mommy your such a genius". Let me express how perfectly adorable he is. Pure genius!!!!