Tuesday is National Read Across America Day, celebrated on March 2nd, the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
Schools participate by having volunteers read to children in classrooms, usually but not always from a Seuss book.
For a few years I was invited to read to Kyla’s class when she attended St. Anthony’s School in Milwaukee.
When I got “political” one year (note the title) Kyla was in the front row.
Sadly, we live in a ‘cancel culture’ world. So it comes as no surprise that the Loudon County Public Schools in Virginia is dropping the annual Dr. Seuss celebration.
“Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate ‘Read Across America Day’ in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard,” Loudoun County Schools said in an announcement. “As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing radical undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss.”
Learning for Justice, a liberal education advocacy group, pressured for the cancelation, citing a study by St. Catherine University that claimed Dr. Seuss’s books are covered with “orientalism, anti-Blackness and White supremacy.”
In 2017 to celebrate “National Read a Book Day,” First Lady Melania Trump sent out a collection of 10 Dr. Seuss books to one school in each state across the nation. The titles included: “The Cat in the Hat”; “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”; “Wacky Wednesday”; “Green Eggs and Ham”; and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
She followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, Michelle Obama, who often read Dr. Seuss books to children. Former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush also read to children at Dr. Seuss-themed educational events.
A Massachusetts elementary school librarian claimed the illustrations in Dr. Seuss’s books — usually cartoon animals or fantastical creatures — were examples of “racist propaganda” and that her school would “not be keeping the titles” for their collection.
Stephanie Grisham, director of communications for the first lady’s office, said in a statement to that the response was “unfortunate,” and Mrs. Trump wanted to use her platform “to help as many children as she can.”
“She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to children across the country is but one example,” she said. “To turn the gesture of sending young students some books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere.”
The website “The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection” writes:
Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) created thousands of cartoons, illustrations, paintings, sculptures, and stories over the course of his 70-year career. While the vast majority of the works he produced are positive and inspiring, Ted Geisel also drew a handful of early images, which are disturbing. These racially stereotypical drawings were hurtful then and are still hurtful today. However, Ted’s cartoons and books also reflect his evolution. Later works, such as The Sneetches or Horton Hears a Who!, emphasize inclusion and acceptance. Ted would later edit some of his inappropriate images, depicting his characters in a more respectful manner.
Congrats to those schools reading Dr. Seuss to kids on Tuesday.
This place is on my bucket list. Photos from 2017:
The new Amazing World of Dr. Seuss museum opened to the public last weekend in the author and illustrator’s hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, and it’s like walking into one of his beloved children’s books. John Simpson, left, project director of exhibitions for The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, and his wife Kay Simpson, right, president of Springfield Museums, unwrap a statue of “Cat in the Hat.” Photo: Steven Senne / AP
The entrance to The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, now open in the children’s book author’s hometown of Springfield. (Steven Senne/AP)
A man walks past a mural with the character “Sam-I-Am” from the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham” at The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. (Steven Senne/AP)
Cortney Thibodeau, a senior at UMass Amherst, paints a mural based on artwork from the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!” (Steven Senne/AP)
Leagrey Dimond, stepdaughter of Theodor Seuss Geisel, stands among objects and memorabilia at The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. (Steven Senne/AP)
A mural of Theodor Seuss Geisel, or rather Dr. Seuss, rests on a wall near an entrance at The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. (Steven Senne/AP)