HomeoldThe message of Horton Hears a Who has only grown sweeter with...

The message of Horton Hears a Who has only grown sweeter with age

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Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. According to various biographies, after graduating from Dartmouth College in 1925, Geisel sought a doctorate in literature at Oxford University.

This marked a significant turning point in his life when he met Helen Palmer, whom he married in 1927. Upon his return to the United States later that year, Geisel began publishing cartoons and humorous articles for Judge, the leading humor magazine in America at that time.

And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Today, People magazine published an article entitled “15 Dr. Seuss Quotes That Will Give You Serious Life Inspiration,” in honor of what the magazine mischaracterized as what would have been his 122nd birthday. Not a single one of these quotations is drawn from the over 60 children’s books that Dr. Seuss wrote.

Many parents, including my wife Lisa and I, read Geisel’s books to our children. This practice has been widely adopted by millions of other parents. Those who are pro-life have frequently cited a phrase from Horton, the elephant in Dr. Seuss’s classic Horton Hears a Who. In the story, Horton repeatedly attempts to save the inhabitants of Whoville, who are “too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes.” He states, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Following Geisel’s demise, his spouse was disinclined for those espousing pro-life views to “hijack” Horton Hears a Who. In a 2008 piece for ABC News, Marcus Baram observed that

Karl ZoBell, the lawyer for Dr. Seuss Enterprises, told National Public Radio that “She doesn’t like people to hijack Dr. Seuss characters or material to front their own points of view.”

Baram’s piece was ingenious and effectively conveyed the distinctive qualities of Horton to readers who were less familiar with the subject matter. He commenced his analysis by

What is it about this children’s book that provokes such vehement disapproval among Dr. Seuss enthusiasts? Anti-abortion groups have taken a closer look at Horton and have identified the unborn child as a key theme. We all learned to read with the books written by Theodor Seuss Geisel and grew up with characters from the “Cat in the Hat” and “Yertle the Turtle” to the “Sneetches and the Grinch.” However, some have posited that the books may have a hidden meaning.

Since the 1980s, some anti-abortion rights groups have interpreted the book Horton Hears a Who as an anti-abortion parable. The tale, which features the elephant Horton discovering a town of tiny people living on a speck of dust, has been the subject of controversy. Despite the ridicule heaped upon him by his neighbors, Horton is determined to protect his newfound companions. He proclaims his intention with the now-famous line: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

I recently re-read Horton Hears a Who, a children’s book written by Dr. Seuss. It is not simply a one-dimensional narrative; rather, it is part of a larger, multifaceted work that incorporates a multitude of observations and lessons. These observations and lessons, which are often lyrical in nature, focus on the importance of protecting the voiceless, the centrality of standing up for the powerless, and the absolute necessity of never allowing ridicule to deter one from doing what is right.

The book was originally published 54 years ago. The message of the book has only become more resonant with the passage of time.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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