More than once in this column I have promulgated the idea of reading aloud to children, something Connie and I did with our three offspring and continue to do and promote with our two grandchildren. One of our favorite authors was Dr. Seuss — whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel.
A study in 2015 showed that one in four children’s first book was by Seuss — “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
Last week the Wickersham Brothers — read cancel culture — snatched six books written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss and gave them to a black-bottomed eagle named Vlad Vlad-i-koff to get rid of.
In case you have been hiding in your basement the last 10 days, the company that oversees the publishing of Dr. Seuss’s works, Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DES), said it’s canceling six books — “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer’’ — because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
The announcement from DES came March 2 on what would have been the 117th birthday of the late author. In what appears to have been a coordinated effort, President Joe Biden left out any mention of Dr. Seuss last Tuesday on “Read Across America Day.” His predecessors, President Donald Trump and President Barack Obama both highlighted Dr. Seuss’ contributions in their annual proclamations.
“Read Across America Day” was established by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1998 to help get kids excited about reading. The day occurs on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
What makes Dr. Seuss books different is they help children to develop something called phonological awareness, a critical skill for learning to read later on. This is because the rhythm and the rhyme build connections in children’s brains in a way that other types of language don’t.
Beyond the explanation in the news release, finding the exact reasons for banning these books is very difficult. A quick search of the Warden library found one of the six banned books, “If I Ran the Zoo.” This book was written by Seuss over 70 years ago in 1950.
The book takes a trip to the make-believe African island of Yerka to retrieve a “tizzle-topped Tufted Mazurka,” a long-necked bird. The illustration shows two natives bringing in the Tufted Mazura. Both the bird and his captors are drawn in Seuss’ caricature style with exaggerated pot bellies and tufted hair. The book also features an Arab chieftain riding a camel.
On their website, the New York Post shows the offending images from “If I Ran the Zoo” as well as “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which was Geisel’s first book under his pen name written in 1927. “Mulberry Street” contains a controversial illustration of an Asian man holding chopsticks and a bowl of rice whom the text called “A Chinese man Who eats with sticks.”
Once again, some in our society are judging others from a previous era with their idea of perfection as seen today.
All this to punish the reputation of the man who helped teach my children and yours the meaning of Christmas, that a “person’s a person no matter how small” and that “no kind of a Sneetch is the best on the beaches.”
The question needs to be asked, was Seuss intending to be derogatory when he included those illustrations in his books?
Since Seuss’ books contain messages of inclusivity of all races and include progressive messages about the environment in “The Lorax” I would have to say no.
Erick Erickson found that there’s more to the Dr. Seuss ban than meets the eye: “This isn’t really about Seuss. This is about progressive indoctrination. The NEA has a helpful list of books to consider as replacements for Seuss. The list is an indoctrination course in woke. From “Julián Is a Mermaid,” about a boy who wants to be a mermaid, to “Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card,” a story about illegal immigrants in the United States, to “The Prince and the Dressmaker,” about a cross-dressing prince.”
Aaron Andrews from the American Spectator says it very well. “Instead of erasing art, Dr. Seuss Enterprises could follow Disney’s lead on “The Jungle Book” and simply run a disclaimer noting that times have changed and warning viewers of content they may find offensive.”
I still believe that children need the wisdom and compassion of Dr. Seuss found in his books.