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.))