Virginia School District Declines to Celebrate Read Across America Day, Says Dr. Seuss Books Contain 'Racial Undertones'

Virginia School District Declines to Celebrate Read Across America Day, Says Dr. Seuss Books Contain 'Racial Undertones'

A school district in Virginia will not celebrate Read Across America Day, the March 2 day that recognizes Dr. Seuss, after an educators group said the books contain “racial undertones.”

According to CBN News, Read Across America Day also celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss, whose books have largely inspired generations to value reading and writing.

Loudon County Public Schools in Virginia recently announced that schools would not participate in Read Across America Day and would not be read the Dr. Seuss books.

"Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate 'Read Across America Day' in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss' birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard," an announcement reads.

"As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing racial undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss."

The announcement came after Learning for Justice, a left-wing educators group, asked schools to cancel the annual Dr. Seuss event, The Daily Wire reports.

In a magazine article, “It’s Time to Talk about Dr. Seuss,” the Southern Poverty Law Center group Learning for Justice pointed to a study that claimed Dr. Seuss books promote “orientalism, anti-blackness and white supremacy.”

In the study of 50 Dr. Seuss books, researchers said they believed there is little diversity in the books.

“Of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are 45 of color representing two percent of the total number of human characters,” the study from St. Catherine University reads. Of the 45 characters of color, 43 “exhibited behaviors and appearances that align with harmful and stereotypical Orientalist tropes.”

Many of the Dr. Seuss books were written in the 1950s.

“It’s also important to note that each of the non-white characters is male and that they are all ‘presented in subservient, exotified, or dehumanized roles,’ especially in relation to white characters,” Learning for Justice said in its article.

This year’s Read Across America Day theme is “Create and Celebrate Diversity.” The March 2 celebration was founded by the National Education Association in 1998.

Photo courtesy: Scott Webb/Unsplash

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.