The Sneetches is about two types of creatures, separated by having or not having stars on their bellies. The Star-Belly Sneetches think they are the best, and look down upon Sneetches without stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches remain depressed and oppressed, prohibited from associating with their star-bellied counterparts, until Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes along with his Star-on and Star-off machines. He begins to give stars to the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and soon they are happy, for they look like their elite counterparts. The original Star-Belly Sneetches are angry at no longer being different and special, so they get Sylvester to remove all their stars. This continues back and forth until no one can remember which Sneetches were originally what, and an epiphany strikes them all at once: that it really doesn’t matter whether a Sneetch has a star belly or not - they are all really the same, and can coexist and be friends with one another.
Throughout the story and afterward, I prompt students with the following questions.
- How do the Star-Belly Sneetches feel? How do the Plain-Belly Sneetches feel?
- If you were without a star, how would you feel about Sneetches with stars?
- What kinds of things do we use as "stars" that make people feel special?
- What makes you feel like a Plain-Belly Sneetch or a Star-Belly Sneetch?
- What lessons did you learn?
- List actions you will take to help everyone feel like they belong.
We can coexist peacefully, regardless of our external differences. I had students think about what makes them special, and shared something unique about me: I grow freckles on my nose during the summer! Each student colored a Sneetch however they wanted and shared what makes them special and different form everyone else. Here is a link to the pdf I created.