January’s Book of the Month is a classic tale by Dr. Seuss, The Sneetches.
The Sneetches is about two types of creatures, separated by having or not having stars on their bellies. The Star-Belly Sneetches think they are the best, and look down upon Sneetches without stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches are really sad about this and are kept from associating with their star-bellied counterparts, until Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes along with his Star-on and Star-off machines. Sylvester begins to give stars to the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and soon they are happy, for they look like their elite counterparts. The original Star-Belly Sneetches are angry at no longer being different and special, so they get Sylvester to remove all their stars. This continues back and forth until no one can remember which Sneetches were originally what, and an epiphany strikes them all at once…read to find out what the lesson is.
Read the text:
- Here is a printable version of the Sneetches.
- Here is an animated version of the story.
- Here is the story being read aloud.
Pre-K & K:
- Check out Seusville for fun Seuss related games, activities, and projects!
- Same and Different
- Which One is Different
Below you will find discussion questions for the text that you could use at home. They are taken from Center for Civic Reflection and Teaching Children Philosophy.
- What are the differences between the Star-Belly Sneetches and the Plain-Belly Sneetches?
- How do these differences influence how the Star-Belly and Plain-Belly Sneetches treat each other?
- What does Sylvester McMonkey McBean offer the Plain-Belly Sneetches? What could this offering mean for them?
- 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?
- Where does the Star-Belly Sneetches’ power come from? Is this power natural or created?
- Why do you think the Star-Belly Sneetches ultimately give up their power? Do you buy the ending of this piece? Why?
- How do you know you’re the same as someone else? How do you know that you’re different?
- Who is this story more about – the Star-Belly Sneetches or the Plain-Belly Sneetches and why?
- Which is more important – proving that we’re “all the same” at our core or gaining respect for our individual differences? Why?
- 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?
- What makes the Sneetches different from one another?
- How do the Sneetches treat those who are different from them?
- Do you think it is all right to treat those who look different than you differently? What about those who act differently?
- What makes a Sneetch a Sneetch – what makes it different from other animals or things?
- How do you know one thing is different from another thing? Is it based on things you can see, things you cannot see, or both?
- Based on the qualities we chose for deciding what makes something different, are the Star-Bellied Sneetches and the Plain-Bellied Sneetches the same or different?
- Are there things that make people different from one another? Do any of these things make certain people better than others? (Think about physical differences and personality/characteristic differences.)
- Are there any situations in which it is okay to treat two things differently because they are different?
After the Plain-Bellied Sneetches go through the machine the first time and come out with stars, the Star-Bellied Sneetches say, “We’re still he best Sneetches and they are the worst.”
- What makes the Star-Bellied Sneetches think that there is still something different about the Plain-Bellied Sneetches since they now have stars on their bellies?
- If there was something that made the Sneetches different, other than their appearance, would it be okay for them to treat each other differently? Are there any qualities that would make that okay?
- Is there a rule we can apply to determine when it is okay to treat others differently and when it is not? How does this rule apply to the Sneetches? Based on the rule you develop, is it okay for the Star-Bellied Sneetches to treat the Plain-Bellied Sneetches differently?