Dr Seuss Controversy

Nicole Gulosh, Staff Member

“A Virginia school district has announced it will no longer celebrate works from Dr. Seuss during Read Across America Day, citing ‘strong racial undertones’ in some of his books and illustrations,” reads a caption under a trending Twitter hashtag. “Virginia school district” equals Loudoun County, causing uproar from local families and people across the internet alike.

The main cry across social media was that Dr. Seuss had been “canceled” or banned by Loudoun County. “Oh The Places The Woke Will Go: Dr. Seuss Canceled For ‘Racial Undertones”,  is the headline of one DailyWire Article. Once these articles and controversy started spreading, Loudoun County released a statement clarifying that Dr. Seuss’ works had not been banned in the school district. “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.”

 

Read Across America Day is believed by the school system to be the cause of the controversy. Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day are connected because March 2, the day that “Read Across America” is held, is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. In past years, Dr. Suess has been the main focus of Read Across America Day. His books are typically the theme, with students and teachers dressing up as characters and celebrating his work, but recently this has been discouraged.

 

Loudoun County is not the only school system across America to do this, and it isn’t the first either. The decision wasn’t based on Loudoun County officials or individual opinions. Loudoun Times-Mirror says “that the National Education Association has also disassociated Read Across America Day with Dr. Suess.”

 

Loudoun County has taken steps away from Dr. Suess due to research that has shown the racial undertones of his works and to “focus on equity and culturally responsive instruction.” This research has brought political cartoons that show anti-Japanese American sentiments and as well as offensive language used in relation to African Americans present in his works to light. Loudoun County wants students to read books that are diverse and inclusive as an alternative to solely focusing on Dr. Seuss during Read Across America. “It’s critical that all students see themselves represented in popular culture,” Eskelsen Garcia said. Garcia is the former president of the National Education Association (NEA).

 

In past years, the NEA, the organization that runs Read Across America, has presented different alternatives for Read Across America week instead of Dr. Seuss. In 2018, students heard Jesse Holland read part of his book Black Panther: Who Is Black Panther? They also have been providing different diverse books for every month on their website, nea.org.

 

So, no, Loudoun County did not “cancel” Dr. Seuss. Overall, many schools across the country have started to move away from his works and are providing more culturally diverse options to young readers. Dr. Seuss is still able to be found in schools and libraries, he is just no longer the focus of Read Across America.