Read Across America Day takes place Tuesday on the 117th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss author Theodor S. Geisel, but they won’t be reading the Springfield native’s beloved children’s books in Loudon County, Virginia.
School officials there have directed teachers not to connect the literacy celebration with Geisel or his works because his books allegedly have “strong racial undertones.”
“Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss. Examples include anti-Japanese American political cartoons and cartoons depicting African Americans for sale captioned with offensive language,” Loudoun County Public Schools officials said in a statement. “Given this research, and LCPS’ focus on equity and culturally responsive instruction, LCPS provided this guidance to schools during the past couple of years to not connect Read Across America Day exclusively with Dr. Seuss’ birthday.”
Lest anyone accuse Loudoun County with joining the “cancel culture,” school officials there noted, “Dr. Seuss books have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms, however, Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools.”
It is not the first time Geisel has been assailed for being racially insensitive.
In 2017, the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield was criticized because its “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” mural of Geisel’s work included a Chinese man with chopsticks.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises opted to remove the Mulberry Street mural panel from view, stating “This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do. His later books, like ‘The Sneetches’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who,’ showed a great respect for fairness and diversity.”
Read Across America Day, launched by the National Educational Association two decades ago, is celebrated on the March 2 birthday of the late author, whose 60 children’s books have sold more than 600 million copies.
The Pulitzer Prize winner’s works have been translated into more than 20 languages.
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