Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.
The Butter Battle Book
In his masterfully written book, ''The Butter Battle Book,'' Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel) clearly makes a statement that is much larger than what might appear to be the children's story within. It is important for older readers to understand the true implications behind this story. Use the discussion questions below to help your intermediate or middle school students draw conclusions and form their own opinions about what Seuss is trying to say.
- What are your thoughts about the ''Butter Battle'' that is going on between the Yooks and the Zooks? Is it something worth fighting about? Can you make any parallels to real life?
- Why do you think the grandfather wanted to share this story with his grandson?
- What was the purpose and/or job of the Bright Boys in the back room?
- At one point, both the Yooks and the Zooks come up with the same contraption. How do you think this happened? What does this tell us about both sides?
- What did you notice about the wall after the development of each new contraption? How would you explain the change?
- In true Seuss form, there are many words in the story that are made up and even nonsensical. Why do you think the author chooses to write in this way? Discuss some of the words he uses.
- Discuss the illustrations in the book. How do they add to the story? How might the story seem different if the illustrations were not of the classic Dr. Seuss style but more realistic instead?
- Discuss the ending. Why does Seuss not write an actual end to the story? What are your thoughts about this technique?
- If you were to add a page or two to the story, what would you write? How does this story continue? How does it end?
Meaning and Implication
- Clearly, the author is trying to make a bigger statement in this book. Discuss what he might be trying to say. What is the meaning behind the obvious parallels and comparisons that can be drawn between the events of the story and events in the real world (past and present)?
- What are your thoughts about the author using what looks to be a children's book to make such a profound and political statement?
- After exploring the hidden meaning within the story, would you recommend this as a children's book? Is the story appropriate for children? Why or why not?
- What does the story suggest to the reader regarding the idea of conflict resolution?
- How does the story make you feel? Are you left with any feelings you'd like to share? Are you left with any questions you'd like to discuss?
Discuss the following themes.
- Conflict resolution
- A true soldier's role in war
- The purpose and/or hypocrisy of war
- The importance of learning from history and/or the fear of history repeating itself
Compare and Contrast
Make comparisons between the following as they apply to the story. Consider using a Venn Diagram to illustrate your thoughts.
- Power versus fear
- Technological advancement versus competition
- Benefits versus drawbacks of technological advances in war
- The war between the Yooks and Zooks versus any military conflict (or the Cold War) in recent history
- The Butter Battle Book as a children's story versus a political statement meant for older readers
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