Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named The Lorax one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". In 2012 it was ranked number 33 among the "Top 100 Picture Books" in a survey published by School Library Journal – the second of five Dr. Seuss books on the list.
In a retrospective critique written in the journal Nature in 2011 upon the 40th anniversary of the book's publication, Emma Marris described the Lorax character as a "parody of a misanthropic ecologist". She called the book "gloomy" and expressed skepticism that its message would resonate with small children in the manner intended. Nevertheless, she praised the book as effective in conveying the consequences of ecological destruction in a way that young children will understand.