President Biden dropped Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day, failing to mention the famed children’s author in his presidential proclamation — a decision that coincided with six of the beloved author’s books being pulled from publication for apparent “racist and insensitive” depictions.
While both former President Obama and former President Trump included Dr. Seuss in their proclamations of the past, Biden bucked tradition and omitted any mention of the author or his legacy.
“On this Read Across America Day, we celebrate the parents, educators, librarians, and other champions of reading who help launch our Nation’s children on that critical path,” the proclamation read in part, with no mention of the author, whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel.
Similarly, a Virginia school system, Loudoun County Public Schools also omitted the books from its Read Across America lineup, citing racial “undertones” in the books.
The omission comes as Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced its decision to cancel the publication of six popular Dr. Seuss books, including 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, claiming that ceasing sales reflects just “part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
The company said it made the decision after listening to feedback from its audience, which included teachers and “specialists in the field.”
“We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles,” it said.
Obama mentioned Dr. Seuss specifically in 2016, with the proclamation reading, “March 2 is also the birthday of one of America’s revered wordsmiths. Theodor Seuss Geisel — or Dr. Seuss — used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear.”
Former first lady Melania Trump highlighted Dr. Seuss on Read Across America Day the following year, reading Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to children at the Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children’s Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 2017.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to say exactly why President Biden dropped Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day.
When asked during the White House press briefing Tuesday why the president left out Dr. Seuss, Psaki punted to the Department of Education.
“The proclamation was written by the Department of Education, and you could certainly speak to them about more specifics about the drafting of it,” Psaki said.
“But read Across America Day, which is, you’re right, has not existed forever, has only been around for a short period of time, elevates and celebrates a love of reading among our nation’s youngest leaders.”
Psaki said, “The day is also a chance to celebrate diverse authors whose work and lived experience reflect the diversity of our country, and that’s certainly what they what they attempted to do or hope to do this year.”
“And as we celebrate the love of reading uplift diverse and representative authors, it is especially important that we ensure all children can see themselves represented and celebrated, celebrated in the books that they read,” Psaki continued.
Psaki was asked whether the decision had to do with the controversy surrounding a lack of diversity in Dr. Seuss books, to which she replied: “Again, I think it is important that children of of all backgrounds see themselves in the children’s books that they read.”
“But I would point you to the Department of Education for any more details on the writing of the proclamation,” Psaki said.