School district pulls Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day citing ‘racial undertones’

U.S. & World

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (WNCN) — A Virginia school district will no longer celebrate Theodor Seuss Geisel A.K.A., Dr. Seuss, during Read Across America Day, citing “strong racial undertones” in some of his books and illustrations.

The Loudoun County School District says they will also no longer feature the author’s work during Tuesday’s Read Across America Day.

Read Across America Day, typically celebrated on March 2, also marks the birthday of Dr. Seuss. His work has been closely associated with the day, with everyone from celebrities to former first lady Michelle Obama reading his books to children.

US First Lady Michelle Obama reads the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham” to elementary school students during a kickoff event for the National Education Association (NEA) Read Across America Day, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, March 2, 2011. Obama was joined by film, television and sports personalities in the event marking Dr. Seuss’ 107th birthday and the start of the 14th annual reading campaign. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2017, the National Education Association started to rebrand Read Across America Day and moved away from Seuss’ work. The website now features books by authors of color with themes that include building community, racial justice, promoting respect and fostering inclusiveness, among others.

Loudoun County Public Schools posted a statement Feb. 27 to quell rumors that the district had banned Dr. Seuss books. Administrators wrote that the books are still available to students in libraries and classrooms and explained the decision to decouple Seuss from Read Across America Day:

“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.  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. Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of ‘Read Across America Day’ in Loudoun County Public Schools,” the district said in a statement.

Instead, the school district has encouraged students to “read all types of books that are inclusive, diverse and reflective of our student community, not simply celebrate Dr. Seuss. “

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