The Sneetches and Other Stories is a collection of 4 stories published in 1961 by beloved children’s author Dr.Seuss. “The Sneetches” is a great book to begin an anti-racism lesson, even with the youngest students. The story begins by showing the division between the 2 distinct groups of yellow Sneetches, the Star-Belly Sneetches and the Plain-Belly Sneetches:
Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches
Had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches
Had none upon thars.
The Star-Belly Sneetches feel superior than the Plain-Belly Sneetches and treat them poorly and with prejudice. One day a mischievous and unscrupulous salesman takes advantage of the Plain-Belly Sneetches’ desires to have a star. Read the story or watch the animated video as the unfortunate Sneetches of both sides get duped in their race to be the better Sneetch, and learn an important lesson in discrimination.
Question to Ask After Reading The Sneetches:
At the beginning, how were the Plain-Belly Sneetches treated?
How did it make them feel?
How did the Plain-Belly Sneetches feel when they got to put stars on their bellies?
How did the Star-Belly Sneetches feel when they saw they were no longer unique?
Group Simulation Activity
Check out the excellent simulation activity on Tolerance.org (a project run by the Southern Poverty Law Center). Based on The Sneetches, students are divided into 2 groups (wearing stars and without); they will experience discrimination and develop a sense of fairness and equity, understanding “the emotional impact of unfair practices.” The most critical part are the class reflections on how kids felt during the role play, and brainstorming suggestions to end teasing and discrimination in their school. This “take action” piece empowers kids to make a difference in their community. There are excellent follow-up activities related to putting these ideas into practice in the classroom. I highly recommend these lessons for all ages!