A few years ago I read Horton Hatches the Egg aloud twenty five times within five days. It was the springboard book for my school-wide author study*, so I read it to ALL of my classes from kindergarten up through fifth grade. You know what I learned that week? Dr. Seuss was a genius. Every one of my classes, at every age level, sat for the nearly 12 minute read aloud with full attention, enraptured by the exciting tale of a kindhearted, faithful elephant. It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t grow weary of sharing the story, either!
Today marks the closing of my Throwback Thursday feature. Over the past 24 weeks I’ve shared a few of my favorite timeless children’s books. Next week I’ll have a printable sheet of all of them, along with their themes and skills/reading strategies to match. It seemed fitting to end this feature with the children’s literature giant Dr. Seuss, just in time for his birthday!
(*Our school wide author study was in preparation for a visit from author Patricia Polacco. Her picture book Emma Kate references Horton, so we kicked off the study during the week of Dr. Seuss’s birthday celebration with that tie-in. It was a fun week, and an amazing author study! I highly recommend Polacco’s work!)
Each Thursday I’ve featured a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a child (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1988 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.
Title/author: Horton Hatches the Egg
Copyright date: 1940
Plot in a Sentence (or two): Horton the elephant agrees to sit on lazy Mayzie bird’s egg so she can have a break, but she flies off for vacation, leaving Horton to tirelessly & faithfully tend to the egg for 51 weeks.
Why It’s Timeless: Horton teaches timeless themes but does so without heavy-handedness. Bookworms simply sit at the edge of their seats, eager to find out what happens to this poor, “taken-advantage-of” soul. In following his tale, bookworms observe a hero who teaches patience, perseverance, trustworthiness, and responsibility. We root for him, our hearts break when he shivers in the cold snow, we yell in despair when he’s sold, taunted & teased, we cheer when the egg finally hatches and out comes an elephant-bird! “And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be like that! / Because Horton was faithful! He sat and he sat! / He meant what he said / And he said what he meant….an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.”
While You’re Reading: The text is lilting. It rhymes beautifully, and in my own read aloud experience, subsequent readings only increase the ease of sharing. Pausing at key scenes, you can talk about the range of emotions your bookworm is likely feeling throughout. The winding plot lends itself nicely to making predictions: will Horton remain faithful one hundred percent?
Just for Fun: So much has been said about Dr. Seuss, and the extensions are limitless if you have the time & energy to pursue them! A good place to start is Seussville, especially the Activities & Games section. I enjoyed this post from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds; many Seuss activities are geared for older kids, but their activity list is great for younger toddlers. (Although I’m not sure you’ll have success reading Horton to kids younger than 2.5-3 as it is long. I’ve read it during mealtime while my 14 mo listened in, but he was strapped in and had food to occupy him! lol. Your experience may vary!)
Books mentioned in this post should be readily available at your local library, or at the Amazon affiliate link provided.