A visit from my four-year-old nephew, Gabe (an orange-haired spitfire), provided the happy opportunity to share with him my family’s favorite Dr. Seuss stories. They are so prized not only because children love them, but because they are charming and literate enough for adults to read aloud approximately 1,042 times per childhood without losing their minds. But more importantly, as I’ve long thought and told anyone who’ll listen, they collectively embody a complete morality library for children, and for adults too. Yes, it’s true.
- Children are people, too. In Horton Hears a Who, a kind-hearted elephant saves an entire species that resides on a speck of dust from “size-ist” non-believers who cannot imbue worth and personhood on creatures so tiny until Horton convinces them that they exist and deserve protection, because “A person’s a person no matter how small.” If Connecticut Voices for Children didn’t already have a mission statement, that would be a strong contender. It also wouldn’t be a bad state motto.
- Fair play. Next, Sneetches is a pithy, anti-prejudice tale demonstrating, with fantastical contraptions and avaricious exploiters, the absurdity of the self-perception of superiority by Sneetches “whose bellies have stars” over Sneetches whose bellies have “none upon thars”. What more, really, do children and adults need to know about how to treat each other?
- Keeping our promises. Finally, Horton Hatches the Egg returns to our elephant hero, who in this adventure perseveres– through winter storms and hunters with guns and seasickness and exploitation at a circus and his peers’ derision—in protecting the nest and egg he’s sitting on, because he promised that he would! Horton’s mantra, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!” is a lesson just as important for adults as for children, and the question—“How do we keep the promises we make to children?”– is one which underlies all of the policy questions we ask at Connecticut Voices.
Through our work at Connecticut Voices for Children, we aim to value children and youth as our future, promote fairness and opportunity, and encourage other grown-ups to keep our promises to children. Early education is one of the best investments in the future we can make, and our annual early care progress report tracks how well the state is doing. Our report on changing demographics in the state points out that if we fail to offer fair play and broader opportunity for all of Connecticut’s children soon, both adults and children will suffer the consequences. Our work on the state budget looks at how we as a state can structure our revenue system so that we can keep our promises to Connecticut’s children’s into the future—with the necessary investments in their education, health, safety and family supports. And we also keep our promises to children by training and mentoring the next generation of their advocates.
By working together on policies that improve the lives of Connecticut’s children and families, we can all make Horton the elephant proud.