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Oppenheimer and the Butter Battle Book

Tuesday's are 'twosdays' over on my @mythaunty Instagram account, when I share two books that I've shared for a particular reason.

This Twosday I've paired a movie and a book.

Oppenheimer and The ButterBattle Book by Dr. Seuss

I finally made it to the much anticipated Oppenheimer. I must confess that the first half of the movie, was putting me to sleep…Physics was so not my subject, and I struggled to follow along. But as we got deeper into his security hearing, my interest deepened and as the movie featured Oppenheimer's concerns over the use of the atomic bomb, cautioning about a potential arms race and his appeal for peace…my kid-lit brain kicked in, and I knew just what I was going to be reading to my older students this week.

Dr. Seuss in his ‘BUTTER BATTLE BOOK’ skirted the dread of a nuclear arms race, cautioning the reader through satire and a cleverly crafted story of a fanciful arms race between the Zooks and the Yooks, whose main enmity was the difference between which side of the bread they buttered.

I find that by connecting what I read in the library to popular culture, I have already cast the hook, and it’s easier to reel in my students to not just listen to the read aloud, but also to actively share and participate in the post reading discussions.

Children are confident to open up. In this case, even if they haven’t yet watched the movie, they have heard the buzz about it all around them and may have listened to what their classmates, friends are talking about or read the current buzz on social media.

This particular pairing is powerful with plenty of information available about how many people at the time did not believe the US needed to use the atomic bomb. General Nimitz, the Commander-in-chief of the US Pacific fleet at the time said

“The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.”

Infact studies tell us that there is no evidence that nuclear weapons deter war and preserve strategic stability beyond the correlation of the existence of these weapons with the fact a third world war has not - yet - occurred.

As countries boast of their nuclear arsenal, movies portray the might of atomic weapon holding countries, in reality the use of nuclear weapons pose unacceptable humanitarian consequences - and that there is no response capacity to help survivors in aftermath.

This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the hands of the ‘Doomsday Clock’ forward, largely, but not only because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine.

The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.

Time to talk about the right, might and plight of nuclear arsenal.

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