Horton Has a Heart…Lessons from Literature

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HortonHearsAWhoBookCover “A person’s a person, no matter how small…”
God made them all, the tiny and tall! There is no reason why Sunday School adventures cannot incorporate other classic children’s stories as well as Bible verses.  This lesson explores some admirable qualities of a beloved Dr. Seuss character, celebrating Biblical values with whimsical rhyme. Seuss’s works are often more than just jumbles of words or colorful pictures. They often contain meaningful messages and genuine morals. One character in particular who is worthy of review is Horton the elephant. Horton is caring, trustworthy, faithful, and compassionate, willing to stick up for the little guy (literally!) and go to great lengths to keep his word.
Age range: Younger students (Pre-K/early elementary)
Materials: Paper towel tubes, colorful paper, glue, scissors, Dr. Seuss stories Horton Hears a Who and/or Horton Hatches the Egg.
Lesson: you may choose to use any of a variety of Seuss stories for this lesson, but highlighted here are books featuring the steadfast pachyderm Horton. Use the tale of Horton Hears a Who to illustrate how all people are important and have a voice. In this story, Horton finds out that an entire civilization of “whos” is living on a dust speck. At the risk of personal peril he goes to great lengths to rescue these tiny people from destruction and make their voices heard. The elephant’s mantra throughout this ordeal is that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
At the end of the story, to save the town it takes every “who” shouting out loud, including one small slacker in particular who must have thought he was unimportant. Here is a great opportunity to emphasize to young students the difference just one person can make. It is also a good time to share how all people are loved by God and made in His own image. This principle is easily reinforced with scripture…
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.            Genesis 1:27
 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?            -Matthew 6:26-27
God cares for each individual being and He will always care for us. He will seek out lost lambs just as Horton searched high and low (well, mostly just low) to find the clover that had dropped into a field. Since He (God) cares for us, we should care that much more for others.
Another classic Horton tale is Horton Hatches the Egg, in which Horton is tasked with guarding an egg for an irresponsible bird. Although challenged and buffeted at every turn, he insists upon maintaining his charge, with the memorable refrain, “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant; an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!” This provides a great avenue to discuss with children what it means to be “faithful” and trustworthy. Someone who is faithful does what they say they will do. God is faithful to us because He keeps His promises and provides what we need. We can be faithful to Him by serving Him and obeying His word in the Bible. When we do this, good things will happen.
But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.   -1 Samuel 12:24
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.        -Psalm 100:5
At the end of the story, Horton’s egg finally breaks open, to reveal that his adopted hatchling has the wings of a bird and ears of an elephant! His perseverance and caring pay off in the end. Just as in the “who” story, emphasis on caring for others is evidently portrayed here, along with the theme that hard work pays off and we can stick to what we set out to accomplish!
Craft: To follow along with the Horton Hears a Who book, you can create a noise-making announcement bugle just like the “whos” blew to make their presence known. Attach a slightly curved paper to a toilet paper tube with staples and/or tape. Decorate the horn with stickers, glitter, tape, or other things as desired, and have fun trumpeting your presence!
Close with prayer and a word of thanks to God for being faithful and loving. Ask for His help to be considerate of others throughout the week.

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