Since Dr. Seuss was reported as being “cancelled” in the largest school district in Virginia last week, the story quickly blew up. Countless media outlets covered the story, including Congressmen, Senators, and show hosts on various news outlets. Following the popularity behind the story, President Joe Biden declined to mention Dr. Seuss on Read Across America day, March 2nd. Presidents including Donald Trump, and Barack Obama both repeatedly praised Dr. Seuss’ work on this holiday in years past, with former President Obama saying in 2018: “Everything you need to learn about politics you can learn from Dr. Seuss.”
Going further, Dr. Seuss Enterprise, which owns the copyright and intellectual property for Dr. Seuss’s books, made the decision to pull down 6 books from publication, including the famous If I Ran the Zoo. On top of these 6 books, the enterprise commented that they are reviewing other books for possible removal as well, including And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.
After the announcement came that 6 specific Dr. Seuss books were being discontinued, the prices of these books skyrocketed, hitting an upwards of a few thousand dollars each on sites like eBay. Unfortunately, even eBay stepped in and delisted all postings with the 6 banned books in them. One user was sent an email that deemed the books a violation of the “offensive materials policy.”
So, where did all of this start? In the Loudoun County School district, the largest school district in Virginia, an email sent to a few principles, which was then forwarded to teachers, talked about the counties plans for Read Across America day on March 2. However, at the bottom of the email (attached below) there a message that accused Dr. Seuss books of having “racial undertones” and as a result stated that “LCPS will not be connecting Read Across America day with Dr. Seuss [Bold text in original].”
Let us go even farther, what may have prompted this? Two days before PACT (Parents Against Critical Theory) first reported on this email before it became national news, they covered another story relating to Dr. Seuss on January 23rd, where a teacher read the book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to their 5th grade class. As a result, a so called “equity advisor” for the school district deemed the book and its imagery “culturally insensitive.”
In response to the national outrage, the Public Information Officer in the Loudoun County School District Wayde Byard released the following statement, where he claimed that the “rumors” of Dr. Seuss being cancelled were not true. He went on to reiterate points made in the email above, saying “Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss.” As a result of LCPS “Focus[ing] on equity and culturally responsive instruction,” the books will “no longer be the emphasis of Read Across America day.”