I have spent a lot of time considering how I was going to teach Bug about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My reticence was in no way due to a desire to hide the truth, but more to preserve the innocence with which she already adheres to the basic principles associated with the movement to which he dedicated his life.
Bug is very observant, and will occasionally point out things like a person with a cane, or an obese person in a mobile shopping cart. Once, much to my embarrassment, she loudly pointed out a rather large women in a pair of obscenely tight leggings. While she is curious (and lacks a good grasp on proper social etiquette), she is far too full of light and goodness to think less of such people. I also can not honestly recall a time when she has ever pointed out a persons skin (or even crazy colored hair) as something abnormal. Perhaps I can credit myself and her upbringing, or perhaps it is just the sweetness of her naturally gregarious personality. Either way, to Bug, all the people we meet are just friends waiting to be discovered. My warnings not to talk to strangers only lead her to endeavor to extend a greeting to every person she sees, in order to render them ‘no longer a stranger’. In a world such as we live in, this can (and does) lead to a lot of concern on a Momma’s part. However, it also brings a lot of pride, in raising a child who wants to bring a smile and friendship to everyone she meets.
This lack of judgement and friendly behavior has had a positive effect on my two younger girls, as they have never been particularly inclined to interact with the general public.
Despite all of this, I do think it is important not to teach children to be color-blind, but instead to teach children to appreciate each and every color as something special. Going foward, I will admit I am slightly terrified of the new questions/comments this new knowledge will illicit from my filterless child. At least I know I am playing an active role in making to world a better place… one less asshole at a time.
So what, you ask, does Dr. Seuss have in common with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? One word my friends. Sneetches. I would hope most of you would be familiar with this particular story that immediately transports me to my childhood. If, however, your literary past is lacking, allow me to educate you…
The Sneetches are a race of yellow creatures that look like odd, flightless birds. They live in a remote area of Seussville which has apparently never heard of the Civil Rights Movement. Their society is segregated into two groups: One with a green star on their belly at birth, and one without. Now the ‘Star-bellied Sneetches’ think rather highly of themselves, and refuse to associate themselves with the odious ‘Plain-bellied Sneetches’, who have committed no crime but to be born star free. They have separate buildings, activities, and social circles.
One day, a man comes in a strange truck and offers the plain-bellies the chance of a life time! For a small fee, he can use his revolutionary contraption to give them their very own belly star! How wonderful, you say! Equality for all! Alas, the original star-bellies are not pleased. How will they know now who is special and who is not? If they all look the same, they may accidentally invite a used-to-be plain-belly to their marshmallow roast! This won’t do at all. Once again, the new man in town has the answer: his star-off machine, of course! In go all the star bellies, and now suddenly it is fashionable to be without an offensive star upon your tum! So here come the Sneetches with recently
acquired, and even more recently unpopular, belly stars. They run through the star-off machine. Now the original star bellies, with no belly stars, are in need of stars to tell themselves apart once again. The madness continues, with everyone running in and out, and out and in of the star-on/off contraptions until no one has any money left, or any idea who started with what, or why some of them suddenly have 3 stars. The man rides out of town, but his visit has done some good at least. The Sneetches have finally learned their lesson. If the only way to tell each other apart is by something as silly as mark on their belly, then maybe they aren’t really so different after all!
This is of course all done within the pages of a Dr. Seuss children’s book, as well as an adorably engaging musical cartoon. I’d encourage you to read the original story, but definitely do not miss out on the musical fun! The songs will ring in your ears for many years to come, which isn’t really as bad as it sounds…
Here is a link to the YouTube video of Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches:
And here is a link to the worksheets we used to talk about MLK and the connection we can make to one of our favorite short cartoons.
Comment below to tell us how much you love Dr. Seuss and the Sneetches! Check back to see our other Learn with Dr. Seuss posts!
I just found this fantastic FREE crochet pattern on Ravelry! Its a Star Bellied Sneetch! How freakin’ cute is that?? I definitely prefer to knit these days, but this one may be worth digging up the old crochet hooks!
Ravelry user KnottyNichole has all kinds of doll patterns, including a ton of Pokemon! Looks like those crochet hooks may be busy…