The Sneetches

Author

Seuss, Dr. (Theodor Seuss Geisel)

Genre

Short Story

Overview

Theodor Geisel (1904-1991), better known as "Dr. Seuss," wrote and illustrated more than forty beloved children's books, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. His story "The Sneetches" takes place on the beaches, where Star-Belly creatures have bellies with Stars and look down on the creatures with "none upon thars." When a man with a Star-On and Star-Off machine comes to town, questions are raised about what our differences mean, how power is created and sustained, and whether proving our sameness or gaining respect for our differences should be our ultimate goal.

Full Text*

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Source

The Sneetches and Other Stories, written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss (New York: Random House, 1961).

Type

Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.

Themes

Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferenceExclusion and BelongingGender and SexualityJustice and EqualityKnowledge and UncertaintyPower and PrivilegeRace, Ethnicity and CultureSocial and Political Change

Big Questions

What causes division between people and groups?Is difference a problem, an opportunity, a challenge or a gift?Who gets left out and why?What are the causes of injustice and inequality?How do we know or identify privilege?What is racism?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What are the differences between the Star-Belly Sneetches and the Plain-Belly Sneetches?
  2. How do these differences influence how the Star-Belly and Plain-Belly Sneetches treat each other?
  3. What does Sylvester McMonkey McBean offer the Plain-Belly Sneetches? What could this offering mean for them?
  4. Why do the Star-Belly Sneetches enjoy having the power of “being the only ones”? What does that power give them that full equality does not?
  5. Where does the Star-Belly Sneetches' power come from? Is this power natural or created?
  6. Why do you think the Star-Belly Sneetches ultimately give up their power? Do you buy the ending of this piece? Why?
  7. How do you know you're the same as someone else? How do you know that you're different?
  8. Who is this story more about – the Star-Belly Sneetches or the Plain-Belly Sneetches and why?
  9. Which is more important – proving that we're “all the same” at our core or gaining respect for our individual differences? Why?
  10. Have you ever been a Star-Belly Sneetch or a Plain-Belly Sneetch? In what context(s)? How did you relate to the other group?
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