Surprisingly, I don't really recall liking too many Dr. Seuss books as a child. One of his books that I do remember reading with my mom often is Horton Hatches the Egg. I'm not sure where my mom bought our copy, but she probably found it at a garage sale or maybe she got it for free from the store. If I remember correctly, the paperback copy we owned had a mark on the cover indicating that it was part of a promotion for Crest/Prell/Wondra. Our copy suffered some wear from the frequent readings. I'm not sure if my mom still has our copy, but if it was still in good condition it looks like it would be worth more than many of the normal editions because of it's rarity. Who would guess a once free book would have any worth? Go figure.
Horton Hatches the Egg is one of Dr. Seuss's earlier works, first published in 1940. In the book, Horton agrees to sit on a Mazie's (a lazy bird) egg while she goes off on a "short" vacation. He faithfully sits on the egg through the rain and snow and kept on, even though the other animals teased him and people made him part of a circus act.
Horton is an extremely lovable character. Readers can easily sympathize with him. The witty, rhyming verses in this book are top notch, showing Seuss's genius way with words. The book does contain an image of hunters with guns, so sensitive children may get a little frightened at this part. Several moral themes run through the book including responsibility, perseverance and keeping your word. In an Anchorage Daily News article from 1978, Seuss says that the idea for Horton came while he was working in his studio one day and the wind blew a picture of an elephant on top of another piece of paper where he had drawn a tree.
"I meant what I said / And I said what I meant.... / An elephant's faithful / One hundred per cent!"
In that same article he remarks, "Teaching a child to read is a family setup. It's the business of having books around the house, not forcing them. Parents should have 20 books stacked on tables or set around the living room. The average kid will pick one up, find something interesting. And pretty soon he's reading." Horton Hatches the Egg is on top of one of our piles right now!
We made Horton Handprint Elephants for a corresponding craft. I saw the idea for the handprint elephants on the Learning 4 Fun blog and we added a tree, nest and egg to complete Horton inspired pictures. They turned out pretty cute.
Related links, activities, printables:
Seuss Egg to Go [pdf] - Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
Paper Plate Elephant - FreeKidsCrafts.com
Connect the Dots to Horton [pdf] - Seussville.com
Horton's Coloring Page [pdf] - Seussville.com
Everyone's an Elephant [pdf] - Seussville.com