Loudoun County Public Schools officials are pushing back against false claims that the school system “canceled” or banned books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.
Along with school systems across the country, LCPS has long celebrated “Read Across America Day” — a holiday created by the National Education Association in 1998 — on March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
However, the school system recently cited research from the School Library Journal, a journalistic outlet with a target audience of children’s librarians and information specialists, claiming the author’s work contains “strong racial undertones.” Such work reportedly includes cartoons with allegedly anti-Japanese American and anti-African American sentiments.
A Feb. 26 article from The Daily Wire, a conservative online outlet, reported that an LCPS announcement ordered employees to refrain from “connecting Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss,” leading other outlets to postulate or claim the author’s bibliography had been banned or “canceled.”
Per the school system’s Feb. 27 statement, administrators have instructed employees to disassociate Read Across America Day from Dr. Seuss’ birthday “during the past couple of years.”
“We 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,” the statement reads. “Dr. Seuss books have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms, however, Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools.”
In an email with the Times-Mirror, LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard added that teachers dressing in Seussian garb for Read Across America Day — for instance, the Cat in the Hat’s iconic headpiece — is discouraged but “not prohibited.”
He also specified that the announcement referenced in The Daily Wire was an email sent to teachers “repeating language we have used in the past,” and that the National Education Association has also disassociated Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss, despite creating the holiday in the first place.
On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that six of the author’s books — including such popular titles as “If I Ran the Zoo” and “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” — will cease publication “because of racist and insensitive imagery,” according to The Associated Press.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in a prepared statement. “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.”
Local groups representing the African American and Japanese American communities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.