Seussology: Moral Parables and Consumer Culture

byAmanda L. Davis-Holloway


  • "I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
  • -Dr. Seuss

As a special education teacher, I believe that arts integration and teaching to varied learning styles is vital to the retention of my students. As such, this unit incorporates the visual and performing arts throughout its implementation. Students will explore the literature and artistic renderings of Theodore Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss, through this unit on consumer culture, economics, and moral parables. This unit is designed for secondary personal finance and social studies courses, and students will work in collaboration with the art department throughout the unit. I have defined Seussology as the investigation of the themes in Geisel's work that focus-on the political and moral dilemmas that occurred during the time period in which the texts were written. In addition, Seussology focuses on Seuss' treatment of prejudice and scapegoating, environmentalism, consumer choices, and the material welfare of mankind.

This unit has three objectives. First, it defines and explores the idea of moral parables in relation to American consumer culture during WWII and the Cold War. How did political cartoons and advertisements exploit prejudices to create fear, in an effort to create and sell products? Seussology also asks students to uncover what Geisel says about fear and consumer culture throughout his work as an author and cartoonist. Next, it investigates the themes and attitudes of Geisel's political cartoons and stories written during that time period. Lastly, it encourages students to examine their own consumption and to compare and contrast American consumer culture of today and during the WWII and Cold War eras. What does Geisel have to teach us about these themes? How did wartime experiences shape children's literature?

Usingart activities, community based instruction, blogs, cooperativelearning tasks, and closed readings, students will gain a new perspective on Theodore Geiseland understand the influence he had in encouraging racial tolerance andsocial consciousness in both parents and children during WWII and the Cold War. With their expanded knowledge of his work, students will become empowered and informed citizens of consumer culture, which will in turn spur them into political action as cultural historians. Further, in using The Butter Battle Book, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, The Lorax, The Sneetches and Other Stories, and Elizabeth Chin's Purchasing Power: Black Kids and Consumer Culture as my leading texts, my unit will ask the student to define their roles as consumers and what it means to be young and poor in American consumer culture?

At Armstrong High School, my students participate in weekly Community Based Instructional experiences. Community sites are visited repeatedly in order to provide instruction for target skills in leisure and business locations throughout the Richmond Metropolitan area. During this time, students are active consumers within their community and they develop independent living schools and develop skills needed to be responsible consumers. In addition, I believe that it is important for them to develop an understanding of irresponsible consumerism and during weeks four-five, they will listen to Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story, "The Veldt." They will also be led through selections from anthropologist Elizabeth Chin's, Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture and will be asked to make connections between these texts and their own lives using Venn diagrams and mind maps where they are the central figure. Additionally, we will partner with the art department and explore the Richmond community in an effort to become cultural historians examining WWII and Cold War primary sources (e.g. ration books, etc.) We will also discuss our own purchasing power and create graphs to examine our own spending habits. This experience will provide a unique opportunity for reflection about our daily consumption and will allow us to connect the themes identified in Seuss' work to those identified in Bradbury's and Chin's different accounts of consumer behavior.

This unit is designed to teach high school students to examine the writing of Dr. Seuss from a new perspective. In essence, they are being asked to look at the historical events and the American economic situation during WWII, the Cold War, and present day from the "wrong end of a telescope" by investigating Seuss' work. Students will be guided through the process of discovery as they uncover the hidden themes about consumer culture and politics in Seuss' work. Through guided readings and in viewing excerpts from "The Political Dr. Seuss", they will explore the double messages about American consumer culture embedded in Geisel's books. The students will be assessed through interactive journal writing, through their creation of protest songs, mail art, posters, and blackout poetry to demonstrate their understanding of the political and historical themes highlighted in Seuss' work.


I am an Exceptional Education teacher serving students with autism and intellectual disabilities. Within the confines of my classroom, I have students who have experienced a variety of behavioral and academic challenges and who have varying cognitive abilities, all of which have contributed to their being defined as being at risk. Our school is currently entering its third year in the turnaround process mandated by No Child Left Behind, and as we enter this new phase, we are working to create a more rigorous, relevant, and collaborative instructional environment between general and exceptional education content area teachers. This unit will be taught in US/VA History and Personal Finance courses and includes activities which are differentiated to accommodate all learners.

Armstrong High School, where I teach, boasts a long history; it was founded in Richmond, Virginia in 1867 by the Freedman's Bureau. Shortly thereafter, it became known as the Colored Normal School; dedicated to training Negro youth. It was merged with neighboring Kennedy High School in 2004 due to limited enrollment in both schools. Physically, there are many borders that exist within our school community. Many of our students identify themselves with certain neighborhoods, and despite the fact that each neighborhood nearly touches, students rarely cross these manmade borders. Their identities are so intrinsically woven into the fabric of their housing communities that it is often difficult to get them to see beyond these invisible borders 1. There are five major Section-8 housing units feeding into our school, and approximately 80% of our students reside in one or another of the public housing units, while the remaining students live in homes surrounding the community or they have applied to attend through our district's open-enrollment policy.

The demographic profile of our school is roughly 98% African-American, 1% Hispanic and 1% Caucasian; with almost 38% receiving exceptional education services. The lack of diversity within our school gives my students a very limited worldview, especially in terms of socio-economic and racial difference. Through this unit, they will create a historical timeline that connects Seuss' work to historical events that were occurring when the books were published. Students will also explore the hidden political and economic themes in Geisel's work. Further, we will uncover what life was like as a Richmonder on the home front during WWII through a series of field studies


In the spring of 2012, as I sat in a movie theater with my daughter Ava, I prepared myself for another children's movie by silencing my cell phone and taking note of the time. I knew the movie would last about two hours, and I hadn't really wanted to see The Lorax; but as most parents know, many of our consumer choices are guided by the wants and needs of our children. When the movie ended, I was stunned. It seemed that the ultimate theme that this film way trying to convey wasn't directed at Ava at all. It seemed that the messages about environmental sustainability, capitalism, and consumerism were directed at me, the parent. Sure, she'd enjoyed the rhyme scheme, songs, and plot of the film, but the overall theme seemed to be directed toward me! I inferred this because the book had an undertone of adult humor. We immediately went to our local bookstore and purchased a copy of the The Lorax (1972) as I hadn't read it since I myself had been a child. I wanted to know whether Seuss or the Hollywood filmmaker had created these themes. Much to my surprise, the film had stayed fairly close to the intent of the original written work, and I began to feverishly search for information about Dr. Seuss and his connection to American modern culture. Could the stories that I'd enjoyed as a child have actually been subliminally written for the parents? The more I researched, the more I realized that Seuss' work was laden with hidden meanings intended to evoke responsibility and awareness in both children alike.

Biography of Dr. Seuss

Throughout my unit, I will be toggling back and forth through time based on the moral themes and lessons in Seuss's particular work. Information concerning Seuss's work will be matched to historical events throughout my unit. Moral parables are defined by a message of right versus wrong and Seussology, as I define it here, is the study of Theodore Geisel's moral and political worldview as it has been expressed over the years in his stories, cartoons, and characters. I have identified several moral parables that Geisel focuses on throughout his work. Among the subjects of these parables are: 1. Protracted condition of racial intolerance during the 1940's-1970's. 2. The worldwide scapegoating of Jews and the Japanese during WWII, 3.American consumer culture during the Cold War.

"From his birth at 22 Prospect Street in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 2, 1904, to his death in La Jolla, California, on September 24, 1991, Geisel's life was marked by the major events of the twentieth century." 2 Springfield transitioned from a frontier town to a town which allowed the Geisel family a great deal of affluence. Geisel's grandfather and father maintained a profitable beer brewery, but as anti-German sentiment rose in the community during World War I, Ted faced verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his classmates. These emotional scars would haunt him throughout his life and would have a great influence on his illustrations and writing. In addition, Prohibition and the anti-German climate reduced his family to ruin and the moral lessons he took from these experiences would define Ted's life. Donald Pease writes, "In the course of his sixty-five year career, Theodor Seuss Geisel was an advertisement agency artist, animator, producer and director of animated cartoons, caricaturist, playwright, short story writer, documentary filmmaker, lyricist, teacher, political cartoonist, and editor and author of children's books." 3

Geisel sought to write social transformative, "message books", which were marked by hidden meanings about the racial demonization of minority groups. In writing texts and drawing figures that explored race and culture, Geisel sought to answer the question, What are the ties that bind human beings? 4Having experienced Anti-German sentiments in his childhood and having sorted through his own anti-fascist and anti-Japanese renderings, Geisel felt compelled to write "message books" that addressed both the social and political hierarchies of the Cold War and engaged the themes of social discrimination and minority rights.

Dr. Seuss began his career as an advertising artist at PM, a "left-wing daily newspaper published in New York from 1940-1948" 5. While at PM, Seuss worked as an editorial cartoonist from early 1941 to January 1943. PM issued a statement citing that they were "against people who pushed other people around and preferred a democracy to any other form of government." 6 After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 17, 1941, Life Magazine ran an article with pictures entitled, "How to tell Japs from the Chinese". 7 The Life magazine article was designed to "protect" the Chinese, now allies in the war effort but still subject to the exclusion laws, from being victimized by Americans who thought them to be Japanese. Geisel was, to his own later chagrin, a party to that typing. This sort of Anti-Japanese sentiment shaped Geisel's political cartoons at PM and the propaganda that he created for the war effort. His wartime cartoons participate in that visual dehumanization or demonization that he thought himself to be fighting during the war and after. This "mistake" on Seuss's part is further a parable in his own life story, from which he reaffirmed his commitment against racism.

During a time when America was running on a ration economy, Geisel was charged by the government with creating wartime propaganda, which would incite civic pride in our nation's citizens. For the next five decades, Seuss crafted children's literature addressing moral and social issues. In 1971, Geisel turned his focus from his Beginner Books to a series of "message books" dealing with political, social and moral issues. The intended audience was parents and children alike. I have created a timeline in Appendix B, which outlines the social climate in which Geisel created his work. His early anti-fascist work began during WWII and continued until the end of the Cold War.

After being commissioned by Houghton Mifflin to create a children's story to replace the banal Dick and Jane stories, Geisel responded to the need for a basal reader replacement; thus The Cat in the Hat was born. Due to the success of The Cat in the Hat, Random House began a Beginner Books division, which Geisel helped to develop and expand over the years with many of his own titles. 8 2008 Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Fellow, Martha Cavalieri, examines conflict and the implicit and explicit themes in Seuss's work through an examination of his biography in her unit written for seventh grade students. Whereas my unit looks to to bring Geisel's biography into a conversation with the curricular version of American history by means of the books themselves: the wrong end of the telescope. I have used her unit in as a companion guide to my own to further dissect the biography of Dr. Seuss as it relates to his work during WWII and the Cold War.

"Dr. Seuss began to work on Green Eggs and Ham after being bet that he could not write a book with fewer than fifty words that would make six-year-olds want to learn to read all by themselves." 9 The repetition of the rhyme scheme allowed the reader to connect the pictures of things with the printed words. "In an effort to engage six-year-old's abbreviated attention spans and limited reading abilities, Dr. Seuss designed titillating linguistic games to capture their interest." 10 In Seuss's texts, children learned to make predictions by way of rhyming words. The action in his books takes place in the absence of grownups or in the imagination. 11 This was a model that Seuss perfected and used throughout his career and he quickly became an icon in world of children's literature.

Students will perform the narratives of Dr. Seuss, create a public art installation in collaboration with the art department, interactive journals and will complete other activities. They will complete activities throughout the nine-weeks that are listed below. They will also create stories about moral parables that exist today using Geisel's familiar rhyme scheme to demonstrate their understanding of Geisel's appeal to both parents and children. They will also create a text that focuses on their place in American consumer culture and politics.

The Documentary

The Political Dr. Seuss 12

"The Political Dr. Seuss" examines Theodor Geisel's life from his childhood through his final days. The film explores his educational and propaganda work and WWII and Cold War era political cartoons. The film also includes in-depth interviews with his widow Audrey, his biographers Judith and Neil Morgan (Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel) and Richard H. Minear (Dr. Seuss Goes to War), his long-time Random House publisher Robert Bernstein, Editor Michael Frith, and historian Michael Kazin. The moral lessons that Geisel learned from his own lapse into the visual and verbal demonization of the Japanese in the service of the war effort and his dedication of Horton Hears a Who (1954) to his friend Mitsugi Nakamura, in Japan are also examined.

The Texts

The Butter Battle Book

This book focuses on the Cold War and the intolerance shown toward others. Seuss depicts the slingshot battle between the Zooks and the Yooks who live separated by war. Narrated by a Zook grandfather, he recalls his days with the Zook-Watching Border Patrol and an ongoing war between the two groups. Written in 1984, it was designed to teach parents and children about issues of intolerance and acceptance.

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

Yertle the Turtle is the first story in this collection of stories. Yertle is pictured as a ruthless fascist dictator who orders all of the Turtles in his kingdom to pile up on top of one another so he can sit on top of them, creating a throne. Eventually, the turtle on the bottom of the pile gets fed up and Yertle takes a major fall. This story was published in 1958 at the height of the Cold War. Themes about leadership, bullying, and intolerance are woven throughout the text.

The Sneeches and Other Stories

Published in 1961 as the first story in the collection, Sneeches is a spoof about discrimination between cultures and races. One group of Sneeches has green stars on their bellies and the other does not. The second group longs to have these green stars as they will make them fit in and give them a higher social standing. A salesman comes to town with an invention that will brand them with the star. He then offers to remove the stars for the first group of Sneeches; ultimately bankrupting them all. According to the documentary, "The Political Dr. Seuss", Seuss's opposition to anti-Semitism inspired it. Themes about prejudice and intolerance are woven throughout the text.

The Lorax

Published in 1972, The Lorax encourages the reader to be a responsible citizen consumer. The Lorax speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler and warns the reader about the adulteration of natural resources, capitalism, and exploitation of the environment.

Purchasing Power: Black Kids and Consumer Culture

Ethnographer Elizabeth Chin's groundbreaking text examines the consumer culture of a group of African-American children living in the early 1990's in poor and working class families in the Newhallville neighborhood in New Haven, Connecticut. Students will read an excerpt from this text, that explores how stereotyping, race, class, and gender influence marketing decisions and the consumer choices of others.

"The Veldt" 13

Students will listen to an audio recording of "The Veldt" narrated by Stephen Colbert. During the Cold War, this science-fiction story was first published as a short story in the September 23, 1950 issue ofThe Saturday Evening Post, and was republished in the anthologyThe Illustrated Manin 1951. Set in the year 2000, it is a tale about a family that installs the latest technology in their home, including a nursery, which has been redesigned as a virtual reality room, which is capable to reproducing any imaginable place for them. Initially created by scientists and marketed as a tool to soothe children, the children in this story have set the nursery to simulate an African veldt. Realizing that there is something wrong with the nursery, the parents call in a psychologist and he suggests that they turn off the nursery. The children, who are addicted to the nursery, ultimately lock their parents in the nursery and allow the simulated lions to eat them.

Political Cartoons and Advertising 14

Seuss began his career creating political cartoons for the school newspaper at Dartmouth in 1925. He continued this work by contributing to magazines such as PM, a left-wing tabloid newspaper; Judge, Liberty, Vanity Fair, Life, Redbook, and Saturday Evening Post. While living in New York, he became a successful cartoonist working for Standard Oil of New Jersey. During this time, his illustrations were featured in newspaper ads, magazine ads, booklets, window displays, and posters. He gained notoriety for Flit, an insecticide ad campaign that featured a cartoon depiction of a mosquito. He began to branch out into children's books due to stipulations in his contract with Standard Oil, which did not allow him to create images for other print ad campaigns. He also became heavily involved in illustrating and supporting the internment of Japanese Americans and the anti-fascist war effort and creating political cartoons throughout WWII and during the Cold War. An excellent resource for his work with political cartoons is the book, Dr. Seuss Goes to War by Richard Minear. In addition, his early work in advertising is featured in, Theodor Seuss Geisel: The Early Works of Dr. Seuss, Volume I which was published by Mark Thompson.


In my classroom, I am mandated by the Virginia Standards of Learning to teach my students to demonstrate an understanding of the events surrounding WWII and the Cold War. The objectives are listed in Appendix A.

Classroom Methods


Throughout my instructional unit, I differentiate my classroom instruction in a variety of ways to ensure that all students can participate regardless of ability level. In providing tiered activities, community tours, direct and guided instruction, and project-based assessments all learners are given the opportunity to participate in the lesson. Students are given the opportunity to participate in debates, brainstorming activities, and encouraged to look at Geisel's stories from higher thinking level. In examining the consumer culture in which Geisel's stories were written, the learner is also participating in a closed reading of assigned texts. Providing explicit instruction and differentiation for learners who may be struggling with rigorous concepts is essential to their success.

Cooperative Reading Groups

Students of mixed reading abilities are grouped together in my classroom for CRG. Within these groups, students take on different roles:

  • - Discussion Director - This person designs and discusses questions about the reading.
  • - Passage Master - This person shares the main idea or topic of each passage with the team and helps summarize the reading.
  • - Connector - This person makes connections between the reading and real life (student's real life or anything the connector knows about).
  • - Word Wizard - This person defines or discusses interesting or confusing words found in the texts.

Students must work together on the reading assignment presented; however they have their own personal reading goals that they must also fulfill according to their IEP and 504 plan goals.

Learning Strategies

Many of my students are have cognitive delays and are struggling readers who have difficulty decoding words, lack phonemic awareness, and have limited vocabularies. By heavily infusing the visual and performing arts, literacy skills, and auditory examples of the themes of Dr. Seuss's texts, my students will gain a broader understanding of the social climate in which these texts were written. Among the strategies that I will use in my unit are:


The teacher-created online journal or blog and will be used to facilitate discussion about the materials presented. Students and parents may also post questions that they have about the topic presented. Pictures from unit activities will also be posted to illicit parental feedback and participation.

Interactive Journal

Students will be responsible for maintaining interactive journals where they will be encouraged to develop their independent writing skills. In these journals, they will respond to various writing prompts and exercises assigned throughout the unit.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers will be used to make comparisons to the events that took place during WWII and the Cold War era. I will also use Mind maps, Venn diagrams and Double Bubble Maps to have student brainstorm and make comparisons about various items in the texts.

Examination of Primary Sources

Students will examine ration books, journals, letters, and other WWII and Cold-War era primary sources (e.g. ration books, etc.) when working with docents from various field studies.

Field Study

Students will participate in a field trip to the Virginia Historical Society and the Virginia War Memorial to examine primary sources and documents that were used during WWII. They will also develop and understanding of what was like for a Richmonder on the home front during these times.

K-W-L Charts

I will use a K-W-L chart to assess student's knowledge about the events about the Cold War and WWII. Students will identify what they already know, what they would like to know, and what they have learned at the conclusion of this unit.

Black Out Poetry

Students will be given a newspaper article about the Cold War and they will be directed to create an original poem by blacking out and redacting text in the article. More information about blackout poetry can be found by using various search engines on the Internet. I will be looking for Seussian style writing in the poetry. An example of blackout poetry can be found below:


Mail Art

Mail art is also known as postal art or correspondence art. Students will be given a 4x6 blank piece of matte and will be asked to create an original piece of art work depicting the attitudes and themes in Geisel's narratives. Students will mail art work to pen pals that they have formed through an international mail art organization and this activity will serve as a creative writing exercise. More information about mail art can be found by using Internet search engines.


This could be considered more of a skill than a strategy, but interviewing will certainly be a necessary part of at least one of the activities I am planning for the unit. Students will interview a docent from the Virginia Historical Society and the Virginia War Memorial about what life was like for a Richmonder on the home front during WWII. They will also interview family members who may recall life during this time period.

Time Line

Students will create a time line of Dr. Seuss's publications and will include historical facts and information on the same time line. Several texts provided information to create the time line in Appendix B and they are listed in my Resources. I have compiled this list in an effort to streamline the information for readers.

Lesson Plans

During week one, the teacher will guide students through the process of discovery as they uncover the hidden political themes of Dr. Seuss's Butter Battle Book, Yertle the Turtle, The Lorax, and The Sneetches and Other Stories. This lesson is rooted in the US/VA History SOLS and will be used to frame the entire unit. Through closed readings and in viewing excerpts from "The Political Dr. Seuss", they will explore the moral parables depicted in Dr. Seuss' books. The students will be assessed by creating mail art, posters, and black out poetry to demonstrate their understanding of the political and historical themes highlighted in Seuss' work.

Students will discuss the main ideas and lessons of a work of literature, short story, or poem they've recently read.

  • -Discuss themes from children's books they've read in the past.
  • -Have a debate about their belief about the intended audience for Dr. Seuss stories. Were these stories written for parents or children?
  • -Watch excerpts from "The Political Dr. Seuss", and take notes on the main ideas of several Dr. Seuss books.
  • -Add their own words to a list of words and phrases that describe themes in the Dr. Seuss books.
  • -Discuss the themes they've explored in the Dr. Seuss books.
  • -Create posters to illustrate one theme Dr. Seuss addresses in his books.
  • -Create mail art to illustrate one theme Dr. Seuss addresses in his books.
  • -Create black out poetry using Dr. Seuss' biography or another provided handout.
Anticipatory Set: Students are familiar with theme and guided readings and will participate in a class discussion in which they will be asked to discuss a recently read journal article about moral dilemmas and WWII. They will be asked the following questions:
  • -What themes and lessons come up in article? Does the story have a moral dilemma?
  • -How do you feel about the main themes and lessons of this story? Do you agree or disagree with the author's view that these lessons are important?
This discussion will serve as segue into a discussion about "The Political Dr. Seuss" and the political messages in his children's books.


1. Show the following excerpts from "The Political Dr. Seuss". After viewing each segment, ask students to determine the main lesson or theme Dr. Seuss wanted to convey in that particular cartoon or book. Have them write down those main ideas into their interactive journal, next to the name of each book. Pause after each book is discussed on the video to verify that students understand the book's main ideas.

2. Give the students a KWL chart about the Cold War, and they will work in their cooperative learning groups to complete the first two columns. They will keep this in their interactive journals and will complete the "L" column at the conclusion of this unit.

3. Provide the students with a preprinted handout with these words and phrases listed: corruption, power, human rights, racism, tolerance, greed, war, anti-Semitism, Hitler, Holocaust, and Cold War They will be instructed to look for the definitions of these words throughout the video.

4. Be sure to provide students with hard copies of the Dr. Seuss books throughout the classroom and have them add words and phrases to the handout from their own observations of the Dr. Seuss books, as described in the video.

5. Discuss the ways in which the general social and political themes on the handout relate to Dr. Seuss's work. Which of his books address which themes? What techniques does Dr. Seuss use to get his points across? Why do students think Dr. Seuss wanted to convey these messages, rather than simply writing engaging children's books? Do students think Dr. Seuss's style of conveying important themes in children's book is effective?


Ask each student or small group to choose one theme that Dr. Seuss used in his books. Students will work with in collaboration with teachers from the art department to create an art installation to be featured in a local park and they will create a protest song, poster, three pieces of mail art, or two black out poems that illustrate this theme. They must also write a one page essay which explains their artwork or song.

Closure/Bridge to next lesson

Next week, we will have a visit from the Virginia Historical Society to talk about the anti-war themes associated with Seuss' work and how that relates to personal finance.

During week two, a docent from the Virginia Historical Society will visit the class and tell students what life was like as a Richmonder in Virginia during WWII. They will explain what life was like on the home front and talk about consumerism and war and rations.

Anticipatory Set: Students have discussed a market economy previously and know that the government introduced ration books during WWII.


1. Introduce visiting docent from the Virginia Historical Society who will explain how rations and ration books worked during WWII.

2. Show examples of ration books and WWII themed History in a box set from the Virginia Historical Society.

3. Students will examine primary sources, texts, and materials brought by visitor and compare and contrast them with materials used today.

4. Have visitor ask students questions about how they would have liked or disliked using rations and ration books. Have visitor lead this into a discussion about waste and adulteration of goods.


Formative assessment of students during discussion with visitor.

Closure/Bridge to next lesson

Students will thank visitor for coming and sharing and they will take tour of the Virginia War Memorial, Virginia Historical Society and the Valentine Richmond History Center during the next two class periods.

During week three, students will listen to a story about how Dr. Seuss began his artistic career as a political cartoonist at PM and they will tour the Virginia War Memorial, Virginia Historical Society and the Valentine Museum to learn about media and political cartoons from the WWII era. They will also identify what life was like in Richmond, Virginia during WWII. This lesson will take place over a two day period.

Anticipatory Set: Students have discussed the importance of political cartoons previously and discussed market economy during WWII and present day.


  1. Students will review Dr. Seuss' WWII political cartoons and will compare/contrast them to those that they see along the Richmond Home-front tour. They will write a paragraph summary about what they have read in their interactive journals.
  2. Students will participate in the school programs offered by the Virginia War Memorial (, The Valentine Museum, and the Virginia Historical Society and will participate in field experiences studying Richmond's Home front during WWII. This tour will take place over a two-day period.
  3. Students will be asked to create a writing assignment from the perspective of a soldier, nurse, child, teacher, immigrant, or African-American living in Richmond during WWII. During the tour, they will gather information to support their writing assignment.
  4. Students will participate in a guided discussion about political cartoons and their significance during the war-time effort.


Students will create a time line of Dr. Seuss stories and events occurring in American History based on the information that they gather from the Richmond Home front tour. They will also turn in a writing assignment based on a Richmonders perspective along with their interactive journal.


Students will create political cartoons and ration stamps based on themes and goods that are commonly used today and they will share these with the class. This activity will serve as an exit slip and will be placed in the students interactive journals. Students will be told that during the next lesson they will discuss today's consumer subculture with an emphasis on wealth inequalities.

During week 4, students will discuss consumer subculture and will relate consumer culture to their own lives.

Anticipatory Set: Students will continue to discuss wealth inequalities and socioeconomic class during this lesson.


1. Students will listen to an audio recording of Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt"

- They will discuss themes in the story and identify the moral dilemma faced by the parents in the story. What message or moral is Ray Bradbury trying to send his readers about consumer technology? Give examples from the story to support this theme.

- What conflicts do the characters in the story face? Give examples.

- "The Veldt" was published in 1951. It offers a view of what Bradbury predicted family life and technology would be like around the year 2000. Is it an accurate view? Why or why not? What predictions are correct? Incorrect? What does he leave out?

- Is yesterday's science fiction today's reality?

- How does consumerism spin out of control for the family?

2. Students will also participate in an in-class debate about the unintended consequences of consumer choices.

- What are the pro's and con's of our economic choices?


Students will complete the listed comprehension questions and participation in the in-class debate.


Students will be told that during the next lesson they will continue to discuss today's consumer subculture with an emphasis on poverty.

During week five, students will discuss consumer subculture and will relate mainstream consumer culture to their own lives.

Anticipatory Set: Students have discussed a market economy previously and know that the government introduced ration books during WWII. Additionally, they have explored wealth inequalities in previous lessons.


- Excerpts from Elizabeth Chin's, Black Kids and American Consumer Culture

- Handout with comprehension questions

- Interactive journals

- A Barbie Doll


1. Students read excerpts from Chin's ethnography and will discuss her findings; paying careful attention to the conversation that the students have about the Barbie doll. A Barbie Doll is a kind of cartoon figure with inhuman proportions. Would Seuss recognize this as a kind of caricature?

- What themes and attitudes does this demonstrate about consumerism to those living in poverty?

- What about the themes and attitudes about beauty and advertising? How does this connect to Seuss and the hidden themes in his children's books?

- How have out attitudes changed about consumerism since WWII?


Students will complete teacher-made comprehension questions and participation in the in-class discussion about their role as consumers. They will also create individual mind maps where they are the center. They will connect themes from the Richmond tours and from the literature by Seuss, Bradbury, and Chin to their own lives as consumers.


Students will track their purchases for a week and turn this chart in with their interactive journal. They will sort purchases into categories of wants vs. needs and assess themselves as responsible or irresponsible consumers. Interactive journals will be collected at the end of the week.

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