Lessons Learned From Dr. Suess

March 7, 2012
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By Shauna Libsack

As a young mother, I subscribed to a children’s book club believing that reading was fundamental to the future success of my cherished children.  We received a Dr. Seuss book every month and they would literally rip open the box and demand that the newest addition to our library be read right that very minute.  I still have all those books and they bring back so many wonderful memories.

Fast forward — A few weeks ago some of our grandchildren came for a “sleep over” at Nana and Papa’s house. When it was time for bed, I let the kids each pick out a book from the now 30+ year old collection still on my shelves. One of the books picked that night was “Horton Hears A Who” by Dr. Seuss. As I was reading, it dawned on me how parallel my life has become to the story.  In case you’re not familiar with the story here’ a recap:

The book tells the story of Horton the Elephant who, in the afternoon of May 15 while splashing in a pool located in the Jungle of Nool, hears a small speck of dust talking to him. Horton discovers that the speck of dust is actually a tiny planet, home to a microscopic community called Whoville, where the Whos reside. The Whos are led by a character known as the Mayor.

The Mayor asks Horton (who, though he cannot see them, is able to hear them quite well, because of his large ears) to protect them from harm, which Horton happily agrees to do, proclaiming throughout the book that “even though you can’t see or hear them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.” In doing so he is ridiculed and forced into a cage by the other animals in the jungle for believing in something that they are unable to see or hear. His chief tormentors are Vlad Vladikoff, the Wickersham Brothers and the Sour Kangaroo. Horton tells the Whos that, lest they end up being boiled in “Beezelnut Oil”, they need to make themselves heard to the other animals. The Whos finally accomplish this by ensuring that all members of their society play their part in creating lots of noise so they are heard by the jungle folks. In the end it is a “very small shriker named JoJo” whose final addition to the volume creates enough lift for the jungle to hear the sound, thus reinforcing the moral of the story: “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Now convinced of the Whos’ existence, Horton’s neighbors vow to help him protect the tiny community.

It dawned on me as I was reading this book to my grandchildren, that those of us touched by stillbirth and committed to preventing another family from the devastation, could think of ourselves as Hortons.  And, the unborn babies we so desperately want to protect are the Mayor and the Whos of Whoville – so tiny they cannot be heard or seen. Just like Horton, there are tormentors and nay-sayers to our cause and stillbirth has been ridiculed and forced into the cage of silence.

Horton solves his problem and we must too by making sure that all members of the club we didn’t ask to join, make enough noise to be heard and convince the neighborhood to vow to protect this tiny community of unborn children.

Horton led this charge by proclaiming throughout this book, “even though you can’t see or hear them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Will you be a Horton and help lead this cause to make enough noise to get stillbirth the attention it deserves on behalf of our voiceless unborn children?

About the Author

Shauna Libsack is Mom to two and Nana to six.  Today Garrett, Grant, Carley, Bennett, Graham and Austyn are the light of her life.  Garrett was stillborn in July of 2004 and since then she fervently advocates for stillbirth research, education and prevention through the Star Legacy Foundation believing that we can do more to prevent these needless tragedies.


Awesome post! I put that quote in Jonathan’s birth announcement. You have a beautiful family! Also I love the blog, I will defiantly be for more reading. This such a overlooked subject…Thanks for changing the world!

Thank you so much for your kind words. You are so right – it’s time we shout from the mountain tops, time someone listens, time, time, time. I just read your blog and I am so, so very sorry for the loss of your precious Jonathan. There just simply are no words in our language that adequately describe the depth of anguish that occurs when you lose a child before he/she is born. Please know that you will be in our thoughts and prayers. Wishing you abundant blessings, Shauna

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