This year’s Read Across America Day left out Dr. Seuss, its most famous author. The event’s date is also the celebrated author’s birthday, March 2. President Joe Biden followed presidential tradition by proclaiming Tuesday “Read Across America Day,” but for the first time, the sitting US president did not mention Dr. Seuss in his message.
While the White House did not issue an explanation for the snub, many progressives reportedly sought the removal of Dr. Seuss from the limelight. Loudoun County Public Schools, one of Virginia’s largest districts, advised against including Dr. Seuss from the school’s “Read Across America Day” celebration. The school cited alleged racial “undertones” in his children’s books.
Alleged Racist Undertones
Over the years, Read Across America Day served as the unofficial National Dr. Seuss Day. Apart from the author’s birthday, many of his popular books served as the featured material in events across the country. However, recent allegations painted the beloved author in a different light. Over the last few years, Dr. Seuss received criticism for racial undertones in his books. In addition, the author himself shared concerning personal opinions. While Cat in the Hat and his other works became standard reading for children, many groups now tell schools to avoid reading Dr. Seuss’s books during Read Across America Day.
Dr Seuss Books Featured Only 2% Minorities
In 2019, Learning for Justice published an article that explored the many stereotyped characters in Dr. Seuss’s books. In a survey of 50 works, researchers concluded that only 2% of all the Seuss characters are minorities. In addition, the study alleges that the majority of the depictions featured harmful racial stereotypes and tropes.
For example, in the book “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,” a Chinese character featured two lines for eyes, carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice, and wears traditional Japanese-style shoes. Meanwhile, in the book “If I Ran the Zoo,” Seuss depicted the two African men as shirtless, shoeless, and wearing grass skirts while they carry an exotic animal. In-person, Seuss once performed during college his own written show in full blackface.
Defending Dr. Seuss
The article author, Gabriel Smith, said that apologists tend to justify Seuss’s assumed bigotry. He said that Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel in real life) merely reflected the humor of his generation. Defenders also believe that Geisel’s multi-decade career as Dr. Seuss more than made up for his earlier attitude.
More importantly, Smith did not advocate the takedown of Seuss’ books. Rather, he suggested people use the books as a conversation starter about racism and bigotry. “You don’t have to burn your favorite Thing One shirt or get rid of all of your Dr. Seuss books or cut Green Eggs and Ham from your diet (unless you just really want to). However, we all need to be willing to explore the things that shape the young minds of our students—and be willing to change our own minds when presented with new truths, even if they might not always be comfortable to process,” he wrote.
Did You Grow Up on Dr. Seuss?
Loudoun County Schools issued an announcement earlier this week. As schools across the country prepared “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.” The school advised that “as we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious,” research shows the presence of “radical undertones” in the works of Dr. Seuss.
Watch the Fox Business video reporting that a school district cancels Dr. Seuss celebration due to ‘racial undertones’:
Are you a Dr Seuss fan? Do you agree with new discoveries that his works have racial undertones? Will you advocate his removal from libraries? Let us know what you think about the once-beloved children’s author. Share your comments below.