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Monday, February 18, 2019

Thinking about Dr. Seuss

Read Across America Day is coming up, and many of you have fun activities planned for your communities, encouraging family reading and celebrating the fun of literature.  Since this celebration of reading happens on March 2, which is the birthday of Dr. Seuss, often we read favorite Dr. Seuss stories or dress up as Dr. Seuss characters, do art projects based on the books, and all sorts of other fun things.

For the past few years, there has been growing awareness of the fact that many of Dr. Seuss's works have racist images.  Many of these are in cartoons and advertisements he drew, but several of his books also have racist caricatures.  There are arguments that the beloved Cat in the Hat is based on black-faced minstrel shows.  Thanks to Kathy Larson from Eau Claire for pointing out this recent article about these concerns.

The National Education Association, the sponsor for Read Across America, has, in the past few years, focused efforts on promoting a more diverse array of books instead of focusing on Dr. Seuss alone.  It's fun to celebrate favorite stories and have great traditions.  But it's also important to showcase a whole variety of books, especially considering all the delicious ones published in the past few years.  And important, just like with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, to take a look at some of our favorites with a critical eye, and be aware of what we are featuring and why.
Read Across America Logo from the NEA, a map of the U.S. with the Cat in the Hat draped over the top, tipping his hat