Read Across America, sponsored by the National Education Association, is a chance to get kids excited about reading. The annual celebration has also historically been tied to the March 2 birthday of prolific picture book author Dr. Seuss. But after years of escalating criticism of Seuss’s books for racist and anti-Semitic themes, imagery, and tone, the NEA began carving out an identity for the day separate from Seuss. It focused on inclusion, designing an event to “create and celebrate a nation of diverse readers,” and cut its partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
Today, Dr. Seuss Enterprises released a statement announcing it has cut six titles from the Seuss catalog, saying, “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
These are the titles no longer in circulation: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.
Moreover this year, President Biden broke with a tradition of mentioning Seuss’s name in his Read Across America statement, and a Virginia school district made a point of separating the day from Seuss. Amid rumors Seuss’s work had actually been banned from its libraries entirely, the Loudon County school district released a statement clarifying that they “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.”
((For more on racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism in Dr. Seuss’s work, read this MUF article.))
The Children’s Book Council has revealed the slogan for Children’s Book Week: Reading is a Superpower. We also learned who will design the posters for this year’s May 3-9 event: illustrator Bryan Collier. Even better? Parents. teachers, librarians, and booksellers who pledge to participate in the Book Week are eligible to receive free posters.
During Book Week, kids of all ages will be invited to complete activities designed to help them discover their superpower. Materials will include a certificate and badge, some superpower examples from beloved book creators, and themed booklists. Kids who complete activities and decide on their superpower will be added to an interactive map (COPPA compliant).
All materials will be available in March.
Collier will reveal the poster design in March; in the meantime, sign this participation pledge to receive your free posters.
The Children’s Book Council is the nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers in North America, dedicated to supporting the industry and promoting children’s books and reading.
This year, like so many other book festivals, the 29th African American Children’s Book Fair will be virtual. It’s a single day event: Saturday, February 6, 2021, from 10:15 am – 5:45 pm EST.
The festival features an amazing lineup of speakers, including Tracey Baptiste, Leah Henderson, illustrator/writer Bryan Collier, and Torrey Maldonado.
The African American Children’s Book Fair is one of the oldest and largest single-day events for African-American children’s books in the country and is hosted by the African American Children’s Book Project (AACBP). The AACBP, a non-profit organization, was created in 1992 to promote and preserve children’s literature written by or about African Americans.
Click here to register for the festival