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Horton Hatches the Egg

Last updated Monday, July 25, 2005

Author: Dr. Seuss
Date of Publication: 1940
ISBN: 039480077X
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2005

Synopsis: Poor Horton. Dr. Seuss's kindly elephant is persuaded to sit on an egg while its mother, the good-for-nothing bird lazy Mayzie, takes a break. Little does Horton know that Mayzie is setting off for a permanent vacation in Palm Springs. He waits, and waits, never leaving his precarious branch, even through a freezing winter and a spring that's punctuated by the insults of his friends. ("They taunted. They teased him. They yelled 'How Absurd! Old Horton the Elephant thinks he's a bird!'") Further indignities await, but Horton has the patience of Job--from whose story this one clearly derives--and he is rewarded in the end by the surprise birth of... an elephant-bird. Horton Hatches the Egg contains some of Theodor Geisel's most inspired verse and some of his best-ever illustrations, the dated style of which only accentuates their power and charm. A book no childhood should be without.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you know what it means to give ?your word?? Discuss what loyalty, or faithfulness means?
•  Have you ever promised to do something? Did you keep that promise? Are some promises harder to keep than others?
•  Do you think an elephant normally lays eggs?
•  What kinds of animals DO lay eggs?
•  Who here has read a Dr. Seuss book before? Is there something special about them?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What would you have done if you were Horton? Would you have stayed on the egg?
•  Why do you think Horton did what he did?
•  Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you were doing the right thing but others made fun of you?
•  How do you think Horton felt about the little bird?
•  What would you have told Mayzie if you could?
•  Use a map in the classroom to find the cities that the circus traveled to.
•  Do you think Horton is a brave? How would you describe his attitude or personality?
•  Do you think he was scared when he saw the hunters?
•  How about the bird? Do you think it was very responsible to leave its egg like that?
•  Where else in movies or cartoons have you seen with flying elephants?
•  Did the ending surprise you? Was it a good kind of surprise?
•  What would another good title be?
•  Who should keep the baby? Why? What is the name of the baby? What type of animal would you call it other than ?elephant baby??

Craft ideas:
•  Imagine if a different animal had sat on the egg. How would it have come out in Dr. Seuss-land? Draw the picture and cut into a jigsaw puzzle so that you can put together different ways.
•  Draw a picture of your two favorite animals to make a very cool, new and different kind of animal.
•  Bring ahead option: Bring in magazine/ other pictures of animals to cut out and fit together.

Special activities:
•  Exchange puzzles and try to put them together. Or, bring ahead option: bring balloons to blow up, and create a game with sitting on the balloons.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!