The Loudoun County Public Schools district in Virginia has told its teachers to avoid a focus on books by Dr. Seuss on Read Across America Day on Tuesday (March 2), the author’s birthday — indicating that books by the famous children’s author have “radical undertones” that are not acceptable in 2021 for “culturally responsive and racially conscious” teaching.
“Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate Read Across America Day in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard,” Loudoun County Public Schools said in an announcement, as The Daily Wire reported.
“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,” the school district also said.
In its “guidance” for educators, the district cited research that found the author’s work filled with “orientalism, anti-Blackness and White supremacy,” The Daily Wire also noted, quoting the announcement the district sent out.
However, later on Facebook, the Loudoun County Public Schools district put out a message saying that Dr. Seuss’s books “have not been banned”—though it added, in part, that the “strong racial undertones” revealed in books written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss “include anti-Japanese American political cartoons and cartoons depicting African Americans for sale captioned with offensive language.”
It went on, “We continue to encourage our young readers to read all types of books that are inclusive, diverse, and reflective of our student community, not simply celebrate Dr. Seuss … Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools.”
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National Read Across America Day is celebrated every year on the March 2 birthday of Dr. Seuss—Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel. His children’s books—more than 60—have sold in excess of 600 million copies.
His classics include “If I Ran the Zoo” (1950), “Horton Hears a Who!” (1955), “If I Ran the Circus” (1956), “The Cat in the Hat” (1957), “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1957), and “Green Eggs and Ham” (1960). Those stories were the basis of numerous television specials, TV shows, live feature films, and more.
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904, Dr. Seuss published his first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” in 1937.
He died in 1991 at the age of 87.
Read Across America Day was founded in 1998 by the National Education Association (NEA).
Monday, March 1, marks the beginning of Read Across America Week.
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—by CNJ Staff