President Joe Biden snubbed famous children’s book author and illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, in his Read Across America proclamation on Tuesday after uproar over “racist” content in some of the esteemed author’s work.
While other presidents, including Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, made a point in the past to recognize and honor the author’s ability to “instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear,” especially after the National Education Association created Read Across America Day in 1998 on Geisel’s birthday, Biden refused to mention Dr. Seuss in his address celebrating early childhood literacy.
Read Across America Day honors the birthday of Dr. Suess – but read the difference between Barack Obama 2016 statement vs Joe Biden’s 2021 statement pic.twitter.com/mzpXWy0NJd
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 2, 2021
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) March 2, 2021
Biden’s lack of recognition for Dr. Seuss’s positive influence coincides with Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s announcement that it would stop publishing at least six of the author’s illustrated books due to “racist and insensitive imagery.” The books that will no longer be produced include “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.”
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told the Associated Press, noting that it relied on feedback from teachers, specialists, and other experts to make the decision. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
Following the announcement, prices of the “canceled” books shot up, with some reaching into the thousands-of-dollars range as they assumed a “collectible” label. Others took to social media to criticize the decision, likening it to a digital book burning.
We've now got foundations book burning the authors to whom they are dedicated. Well done, everyone. https://t.co/g4X7ZP9yOV
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 2, 2021
kids can't go to school, mental health is plummeting and people can't feed their families because their businesses are shut down but i'm super glad we pulled those racist dr seuss books
— Jordan Chamberlain (@jordylancaster) March 2, 2021
Oh the places you won't go Dr. Seuss…….because of the left
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) March 2, 2021
really stupid left-wing censoring totalitarian asinine angry blue fish. https://t.co/Zz8z32hPJs
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 27, 2021
The controversy surrounding Dr. Seuss’s other works also rose recently when Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia instructed its teachers to “not connect Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss’ birthday exclusively” after research suggested his illustrated books lacked diversity.
“Of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are forty-five characters of color representing 2% of the total number of human characters,” a 2019 study from the Conscious Kid’s Library and the University of California concluded.
According to school administrators, “We want to encourage our young readers to read all types of books that are inclusive and diverse and reflective of our student community, not simply celebrate Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day.”