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A Critical Race Reading of Dr. Seuss and Resource Guide for Read Across America Day 2018

A Critical Race Reading of Dr. Seuss and Resource Guide for Read Across America Day 2018


By The Conscious Kid

Please send us an email at consciouskidlibrary@gmail.com for a PDF of this Resource Guide. For a list of recommended books for an Inclusive Read Across America Day, check out our list here


Read Across America is the nation’s largest celebration of reading, with over 45 million annual participants. The National Education Association (NEA) created the event over 20 years ago, to take place on Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 2nd). For the past 2 decades, the celebration has been centered around Dr. Seuss’s children’s books and the author himself. Kids and adults read Dr. Seuss books, dress up like the Cat in the Hat, eat green eggs and ham, and even bake Dr. Seuss birthday cakes.

Our critical literacy organization, The Conscious Kid, conducted a comprehensive study of the racism across 50 Dr. Seuss’s children’s books, and its implications to the development of racial bias in young children. Based on our findings, and a growing body of research, we have been advocating that Read Across America shift the focus of the event away from Dr. Seuss and towards diverse books.

In addition to the significant issues of racism within the children’s books themselves, Dr. Seuss also has a history of drawing anti-Japanese propaganda, making anti-Japanese statements (“we’ve got to kill the Japs”), depicting Black people as monkeys, referring to Black people as “n******”, and wearing blackface in minstrel shows. In the context of rising hate crimes and hate speech in schools, we have been challenging what it means to celebrate a man with an extensive history of overt racism.

The first article we published on Seuss’s racism was on RAA Day last year. In response, teachers of color reached out to us and said that they felt uncomfortable being expected to celebrate Dr. Seuss while not having space to discuss issues of race at their school. Parents of color reported that they do not allow Seuss books in their homes and actually keep their kids home from school every year on March 2. Students themselves were challenging the celebration of Dr. Seuss in school. Two Japanese siblings created handmade flyers of Dr. Seuss’s anti-Japanese and anti-Black cartoons to hand out to their peers during last year’s event. They wanted to raise awareness of Seuss’s racist propaganda and the impact it had on their own family being incarcerated during WWII. Their teachers and administrators stopped them from handing out the flyers and told them that school was not the appropriate place for it. We documented these responses, and the ways in which marginalized teachers and families had been resisting the the event in various ways.

We submitted our findings directly to the NEA’s Read Across America Advisory Committee and met with the head of RAA in person. They committed to start transitioning away from Dr. Seuss, change RAA’s’ theme to “Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers,” and use the event as an opportunity to promote social justice. They removed all Dr. Seuss books from their annual Read Across America Resource Calendar, and recently kicked of their RAA events in Hawaii featuring all diverse books.

The NEA has already taken steps to rebrand the event, but it is teachers and administrators who will be creating and enacting change in their classrooms and schools. We created this information sheet with a summary of our findings so that parents and educators can consider it when planning for a more inclusive RAA for 2018. It includes:

1. An Overview of The Racism Within Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books

2. An Overview of The Racism in The Cat in the Hat

3. Debunking Themes of Tolerance and Anti-Racism in The Sneetches and Horton Hears A Who!

4. Resources for Read Across America Day 2018

5. Additional Articles and Advocacy Work Around Dr. Seuss’s Racism and the Benefits of Diverse Books


In analysis of 50 Dr. Seuss children’s books, this is an overview of the findings on depictions of race and racism:

Whiteness: 98% of the characters are white. The books are narrated by white characters and white characters have all the speaking roles. Characters of color remain silent. White characters are always in a dominant role in relation to characters of color, and characters of color are depicted as subservient: driving, entertaining, or “fetching” things for white characters.

Gender: There are 0 representations of women of color or girls of color. Males (particularly white males) dominate the roles overall and significantly outnumber female characters. Relationships are heteronormative and there are 0 representations of LGBTQIA+ characters.

People of Color: 100% of the characters of color are portrayed through subservience, dehumanization, exotification, stereotype and/or caricature. There were 0 Latinx, Black* or Indigenous human characters (*there are 2 “African” characters depicted as monkeys)

Asian Characters: Twelve of the Asian characters are of unknown country or ethnicity. They are all featured in subservient roles, hunting down or carrying exotic animals for a white male. They are described by Dr. Seuss in the text as “helpers that all wear their eyes at a slant" from “countries no one can spell”.  Eleven Asian characters are wearing stereotypical, conical “rice paddy hats”. The three (and only) Asian characters who are not seen wearing “rice paddy hats”, are carrying a white male with a gun on their heads. The Japanese character is referred to as “a Japanese” and has a bright yellow face. A Chinese character is drawn with bright yellow skin and slanted eyes. He is running with chopsticks and a bowl of rice in his hands. The caption reads “...A Chinese man Who eats with sticks….”, which is the updated version of the text. The original version read, "a yellow-faced chinamen who eats with sticks". This “Chinese” man is wearing traditional Japanese footwear called geta.

Turban-Wearing Characters: Of the 29 characters wearing turbans, 15 are riding exotic animals, including camels, elephants and zebras, and four are playing exotic instruments. Seventeen of the characters wearing turbans are in a subservient role to white males, “fetching” an egg for white males, driving a cart full of white males, and, carrying a caged animal for white males. One of the white men being driven by a man in a turban is smiling while holding a whip above the man and the elephant he is riding on. Two characters in turbans are in the circus. Dr. Seuss references putting one of the men wearing a turban on display in the zoo: “A Mulligatawny is fine for my zoo And so is a chieftain [referring to the man in the turban], I'll bring one back too".  

In addition to human characters, many of Dr. Seuss’s animal characters transmit racial messaging through allegories and symbolism, including The Cat in the Hat.


The Cat in the Hat is significant as Dr. Seuss’s most hypervisible and iconic character. The book, The Cat in the Hat, is the 2nd best-selling Dr. Seuss book of all time (after Green Eggs & Ham), has sold 15.5 million copies (Random House), and is the 9th best-selling children’s books of all time (Publisher’s Weekly). The NEA named it one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children” and continues to sell the iconic red and white striped hat through its Read Across America website.

In his book, “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature and the Need for Diverse Books”, children’s literature scholar Dr. Philip Nel, presents extensive research on the racialized origins of The Cat in the Hat as "inspired by blackface performance, racist images in popular culture, and actual African Americans” (Nel, 2015).

The “Cat’s” appearance in The Cat in the Hat, was inspired from an actual Black woman named Annie Williams (Nel, 2017). She was an elevator operator at the Boston offices of Seuss’s publishers at Houghton Mifflin (Nel, 2017). In 1955, Seuss was at their offices to meet William Spaulding, who tasked Seuss that day with creating a children’s book that was entertaining, as well as educational (Nel, 2017). Spaulding and Seuss rode up to the offices in the elevator with Ms. Williams. Later, Seuss recalled Annie William’s “leather half-glove and secret smile” (Beckerman, 2017). When Seuss created the “Cat”, “he gave him Mrs. William’s white gloves, her sly smile, and her color” (Nel, 2017).

The Cat was also influenced by actual blackface performers and minstrelsy, which is seen in both the Cat’s physical appearance, and the role he plays in the books. Physical attributes mirroring actual blackface performers include: “The Cat’s umbrella (which he uses as a cane) and outrageous fashion sense link him to Zip Coon, that floppish “northern dandy negro”. His bright red floppy tie recalls the polka-dotted ties of blackfaced Fred Astaire in Swing Time (1936) and of blackfaced Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms (1939). His red-and-white-striped hat brings to mind Rooney’s hat in the same film or the hats on the minstrel clowns in the silent picture Off to Bloomingdale Asylum” (Nel, 2017).


Dr. Seuss partook in minstrelsy and blackface performance himself. He wrote and acted in a minstrel show for his high school called “Chicopee Surprised”, and performed in blackface (Nel, 2017). Minstrel shows exploited Black stereotypes for profit and mocked African Americans and Black culture. They mimicked white perceptions of the attributes and function of Blacks as: “subservient”, “ignorant”, “buffoonish”, and serving/performing at the pleasure (and profit) of whites.


The role the Cat “performs” in The Cat in the Hat mimics the role of blackface performers in minstrel shows. The “black” Cat’s purpose is to entertain and perform “tricks” for the white children: “I know some new tricks, A lot of good tricks. I will show them to you. Your mother Will not mind at all if I do” (Seuss, 1957). Although he is there for entertainment value, it is made clear that he does not belong in the white family’s home: “Tell that Cat in the Hat You do NOT want to play. He should not be here. He should not be about.”

In the sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, the story is centered around the Cat leaving a ring of ink in the bathtub:


Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, American advertisements and postcards featured Black children getting their skin color from drinking ink. The message conveyed was that Black people are not human, their Blackness is “unnatural” (white is the default/natural skin color), and that Blackness is dirty. Below is a similar reference to the bathtub scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. It was featured on a postcard in the 1920s and depicts a Black baby expelling “ink” from his skin by taking a bath:


The Cat in the Hat Comes Back continues with the Cat wiping his ink on the white mother’s white dress, the white walls, their dad’s shoes, the hallway rug, and the white father’s bed. To clean up the ink all over the house, the Cat takes 26 “Little Cat’s” out of his hat to help. These Cats all have guns (“My cats have good guns They will KILL all those spots!”), and as they are “killing” the spots with their guns, they leave even more ink in their path until all the snow outside of the house is covered in ink. Instead of the word “clean”, the work “kill” is used repeatedly: (“Come on! Kill those spots! Kill the mess! yelled the cats.”) The children yell, “All this does is make MORE spots! Your cats are no good. Put them back in the hat” (Seuss, 1958). The story concludes when the last cat, “Little Cat Z”, is able to use a “Voom” to blow all the cats back in the hat and return everything to its “right”, “white” state (“Now your snow is all white! Now your house is all right” (Seuss, 1958)!

It is important to not only look at Seuss’s use of racial symbols, but also to examine what he does with these symbols. The message here is that whiteness is “right” and Blackness is “bad”, dirty, aggressive, and “no good”.

In another one of Dr. Seuss’s children’s books, there is an actual reference to a character drinking ink. The book One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish depicts a “Yink” drinking ink with the text, “He likes to drink and drink and drink / the thing he likes to drink is ink. / SO if you have a lot of ink, then you should get a Yink I think”.  


Wagner (2016) did an analysis which compared that illustration to a 1916 magazine advertisement of a Black baby drinking ink. The caption (which we edited out) reads: “N***** milk”. The racist suggestion is that Black people get their skin color from drinking ink. The image of the “Yink” “drinking ink” from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish mirrors the advertisement, almost identically:











Wagner (2016) suggested multiple animal characters in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish symbolize Black people including characters 1) “drinking ink” 2) not being able to read 3) riding in the “back of the bike” 4) pushing white children on a bike up a hill (“We like our Mike and this is why: Mike does all the work when the hills get high”), and 5) boxing “the great white hope”. For example, Wagner suggests this page is a reference to Black people riding in the back of the bus and being subservient to white people:



When people point to the work Dr. Seuss did to promote “tolerance” and “anti-racism”, they often cite the books, The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who! Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance uses The Sneetches in their anti-racist curriculum for children and the oft-quoted line from Horton Hears a Who!, “A person’s a person, no matter how small!” is proclaimed as a moral of “tolerance”. Both books feature only animals or made-up, non-human characters, so these stories are told through allegories and symbolism. Each book was examined critically to assess if and how they convey messaging around “tolerance” and “anti-racism”.


Dr. Seuss first published The Sneetches in Redbook in 1953. A friend told Seuss it was “anti-Semitic” so he put it aside, but Random House compelled him to revise the book and it was published in 1961 (Nel, 2017). Because the book is being taught as “anti-racist”, it was analyzed through a racial lens. We find it problematic to uphold as anti-racist for the following reasons:

  1. It portrays the “oppressed” group (the Plain-Belly Sneetches) in a deficit-based framework. The Plain-Belly Sneetches are depicted as “moping and doping” in their self-hatred and spend all their time, energy and resources trying to be exactly like the dominant Star-Belly Sneetches. This is a very problematic and misguided way of perceiving oppressed groups. Oppressed communities are generally fighting to hang on to their own culture and identity and not have it erased, marginalized or appropriated by the dominant culture. Oppressed people want to be free of oppression, they do not want to be their oppressor.

  2. The Plain-Belly Sneetches never challenge their oppressor or the oppression itself. They never resist. The only action they take is to disregard their own identity and culture to take on the one of their oppressor. The Plain-Bellied Sneetches play out an unrealistic scenario of overcoming the intentional discrimination of individual Star-Bellied Sneetches through conformity.

  3. The book concludes with the Plain-Belly Sneetches and Star-Belly Sneetches getting confused as to who is oppressed and who is the oppressor, and they have “no choice” but to accept each other: “Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept running through/ Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew / Whether this one was that one...or that one was this one / Or which one was what one...or what one was who...That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars And whether they had one or not, upon thars” (Seuss, 1953). This promotes the false and problematic narrative that “forgetting”/not seeing race, aka colorblindness, is the solution to racism. In reality, not seeing race is not possible. Even if a person of color were to try to look or act white, they can never be mistaken as white. Nor should that be their goal. Conformity and colorblindness do not constitute anti-racist work, they run counter to it.


The book Horton Hears a Who! is another one of Dr. Seuss’s books widely cited as promoting tolerance. Many people infer that it is an apology for his WWII anti-Japanese propaganda. One reason this book is problematic is because of its promotion of the White Savior Complex.

Everyday Feminism discusses the White Savior Complex and why it is harmful:

“A White Savior is a common trope used in books, films, and as a way of interpreting actual history. It’s also a perspective shared by many white people as we move through the world. In the simplest terms, it’s when a white character or person rescues people of color from their oppression. The White Savior is portrayed as the good one, the one that we’re meant to identify with as we watch or read these narratives. They usually learn lessons about themselves along the way. There are many problems with this kind of narrative, some of which I’ll go over. For instance, it racializes morality by making us consistently identify with the good white person saving the non-white people who are given much less of an identity in these plot lines. It also frames people of color as being unable to solve their own problems. It implies that they always need saving, and that white people are the only ones competent enough to save them. This is very obviously untrue, and it’s a harmful message to relay. Considering how widespread the story is, the result is that it ignores the reality that communities of color have their own leaders and they’re not being saved by white people. It also exoticizes the (other) people and positions them as being automatically broken and needing saving, just because of where they live or how they look” (Edell, 2016).

Just like in The Sneetches, this book positions the “oppressed” in a deficit-based framework.  The Who’s are “helpless” and need to be “saved” and protected by the bigger, more powerful (savior), Horton. Note that Horton is the one who decides that the Who’s need to be saved in the first place, and that he himself defines and dictates the actions needed to save “them” (including when he directs the Who’s to prove their existence). The Who’s don’t speak a word to Horton until page 18 of the book, yet Horton starts his work of “saving them” and deciding/defining what it means to “save them”, on page 3.

Another problematic aspect of this story is the insistence on the Who’s having to prove their existence so they won’t be killed. Horton commands the Mayor of the Who’s: “You’ve got to prove now that you are really there!...And you very small persons will not have to die / If you make yourselves heard!” The responsibility of whether or not the Who’s get killed is placed on the Who’s themselves, not their aggressors (victim-blaming). There is no action taken to challenge or defend against the violent threats of the kangaroos and monkeys who want to kill them. As in today’s racial context, people of color are forced to prove their right to life and that their lives “matter”, and white perpetrators of violent crimes against them are often not held accountable.

Dr. Seuss actively supported and fueled the racism, incarceration and killing of Japanese people. He was quoted as saying, “If we want to win, we’ve got to kill the Japs...we can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left”. Dr. Seuss and Dr. Seuss Enterprises profited profoundly off of the sales of this book, it’s Broadway rendition, the Horton Hears a Who! movie (which grossed $297 million dollars) and associated merchandise. There were a lot of possibilities for Dr. Seuss to acknowledge, take responsibility for, and make amends for his racist actions and work. However, he made the choice to never directly apologize for his anti-Japanese propaganda, nor the statements he made calling for Japanese people to be killed.



Use the kick-off event for RAA 2018 in Hawaii as an example of the new direction of RAA under the theme “Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers”. This event featured diverse books from the 2018 Read Across America Resource Calendar and posters. There are suggested activities, based on each diverse book, available from NEA’s partner, Reading is Fundamental at rif.org/nea. “These books drive home the message the people, with their diverse interest and backgrounds, are what make our communities across the country special and strong. Each month’s book features activities and resources to build on the theme of neighborhood and community.”  http://www.nea.org/grants/72014.htm


Utilize Your Local Public Library: For educators that do not already have a selection of diverse books in the classroom or on site, one way to access diverse books for RAA 2018  is to request and reserve books from your local public library.

Scholastic Reading Club: Scholastic has a We Need Diverse Section featuring diverse books each season. Each season, they feature at least a couple titles for $1 and many more for $3 or $4. https://clubs.scholastic.com/parent-flyer?cgid=D_6#{"page":1}

First Book Marketplace: If you are a Title I school, you can get diverse books for up to 90% off the retails cost from First Book at firstbookmarketplace.org. Check out the Diversity & Inclusion section in the First Book Marketplace. If you use the code: NEAREAD, you can get $20 off when ordering from the NEA Read Across America section.

NEA Diverse Book Grants: NEA will award grants ranging from $250 to $1,000 to public schools serving economically disadvantaged students to purchase diverse books for public school libraries. Only NEA members may apply. The deadline for all applications is March 30, 2018 (funds will be available in May). The application can be accessed here.

Check YouTube: Many authors and book lovers create videos reading diverse children’s books that you can share with your class. Enter the book title in the search function to see if there’s a video for it.


Reading Is Fundamental: Reading is Fundamental has partnered with RAA to provide  lesson plans, activities, interactive puzzles, videos, and leveled reading passages that go along with each diverse book featured on RAA’s 2017-2018 Resource Calendar. These books drive home the message that people, with their diverse interest and backgrounds, are what make our communities across the country special and strong. Each month’s book features activities and resources to build on the theme of neighborhood and community. Download or print these free resources: https://www.rif.org/nea


For diverse book recommendations, check out the following organizations:

Africa Access: Africa Access was founded in 1989 to help schools, public libraries, and parents improve the quality of their K-12 collections on Africa. Africa Access Review,  Read Africa and Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) have been effective initiatives in our efforts to inform the public about quality K-12 books on Africa. http://africaaccessreview.org/

American Indians in Children's Literature: Established in 2006, American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society. https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/   

Disability in KidLit: Disability in Kidlit is dedicated to discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. they publish articles, reviews, interviews, and discussions examining this topic from various angles—and always from the disabled perspective. www.disabilityinkidlit.com

Latinx’s in Kid Lit: Their vision is to: engage with works about, for, and/or by Latinxs; offer a broad forum on Latinx children’s, MG, and YA books; promote literacy and the love of books within the Latinx community; examine the historical and contemporary state of Latinx characters; encourage interest in Latinx children’s, MG, and YA literature among non-Latin@ readers; share perspectives and resources that can be of use to writers, authors, illustrators, librarians, parents, teachers, scholars, and other stakeholders in literacy and publishing. https://latinosinkidlit.com/

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of children's books that celebrate diversity and get more of these books into classrooms and libraries. It is celebrated on January 27th. They give away thousands of free diverse  books each year and create lesson plans and activities to go along with diverse books. https://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/

Rainbow Book List: The Rainbow Book List is created by the Rainbow Book List Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Tablle of the American Library Association. Originally a joint project between the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Roundtable and the Social Responsibilities Round Table, the Rainbow Book List presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age. http://glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/

Scholastic Reading Club Partnership with We Need Diverse Books: Scholastic Reading Club and We Need Diverse Book collaborate on flyers distributed in classrooms with students ranging in age from toddler to teen. These offers will elevate stories by and about people from traditionally underrepresented communities. The collection will showcase a wide variety of titles representing many types of diversity, including race and ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ, disabled characters, and more. www.scholastic.com/readingclub

Social Justice Books: Teaching for Change developed SocialJusticeBooks.org in 2017 to identify and promote the best multicultural and social justice children’s books, as well as articles and books for educators. It builds on the tradition of the Council on Interracial Books for Children which provided a social justice lens to reviews of children’s literature. http://Socialjusticebooks.org  

The Brown Bookshelf: The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. Our flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. https://thebrownbookshelf.com/

The Conscious Kid: Diverse books through a critical lens. The Conscious Kid posts recommended #ownvoices diverse books every day through their Instagram (@theconsciouskid) and Facebook page and publishes book lists on their website, Medium and Upworthy. www.theconsciouskid.org  

We Need Diverse Books OurStory App: OurStory was created as a tool to help readers explore and buy diverse books, highlight the work of creators from marginalized communities, and enhance the reading experience. http://www.diversebooks.org/ourstory/


Is The Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away From Dr. Seuss and Towards Diverse Books: “For 20 years, Read Across America has been synonymous with youngsters wearing red and white striped hats sitting down for story time on March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday. But this fall, the biggest national literacy awareness program, sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), will be shifting its focus toward a year-round promotion of diverse children’s books. It’s a change resulting from both a heightened awareness of representation in kid lit, as well as growing scrutiny of racial imagery in the work of the beloved children’s book author.”

Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books: “Racism is resilient, duplicitous, and endlessly adaptable, so it is no surprise that America is again in a period of civil rights activism. A significant reason racism endures is because it is structural: it's embedded in culture and in institutions. One of the places that racism hides-and thus perhaps the best place to oppose it-is books for young people. Was the Cat in the Hat Black? presents five serious critiques of the history and current state of children's literature tempestuous relationship with both implicit and explicit forms of racism. The book fearlessly examines topics both vivid-such as The Cat in the Hat's roots in blackface minstrelsy-and more opaque, like how the children's book industry can perpetuate structural racism via whitewashed covers even while making efforts to increase diversity. The text concludes with a short and stark proposal of actions everyone-reader, author, publisher, scholar, citizen- can take to fight the biases and prejudices that infect children's literature.”

Dr. Seuss Museum Will Remove Mural After Authors Object to ‘Racial Stereotype’: “A Dr. Seuss museum in Massachusetts has agreed to replace a mural showing a Chinese character with chopsticks, slanted eyes and a pointed hat after three authors said the depiction was racist and refused to attend a museum event in protest. The authors, Mo Willems, Mike Curato and Lisa Yee, said in a letter on Thursday that they would not attend a book festival on Oct. 14 at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Mass., because of the “jarring racial stereotype” of the character from Dr. Seuss’s book “And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” “We find this caricature of ‘the Chinaman’ deeply hurtful, and have concerns about children’s exposure to it,” the letter said.”

Reading Racism in Dr. Seuss/How Schools Can Navigate Racism in Children’s Books: “Philip Nel, a scholar and professor of children's literature whose specialties include Dr. Seuss and Harry Potter, is pushing readers to grapple with the political and social implications of the stories that inspire such warm, fuzzy memories. In his new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, Nel argues that, yes, the Cat in the Hat was Black—or, more precisely, that Seuss’s depiction of the character was based on racial stereotypes and inspired by traditions of blackface minstrel entertainment—and that dozens more children’s books of decades past are brimming with insidious, racist themes.”

Dear Mrs. Trump by Liz Phipps Soeiro: “Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art.”

Kids Use Dr. Seuss Week to Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons: A pair of 10 and 11 year old siblings used “Dr. Seuss Week” last year to increase awareness of Seuss’s racist political cartoons. They created fliers of the anti-Black and anti-Japanese cartoons and attempted to hand them out to their peers. “Some students accused Zoe of spreading a fake rumor, tore up the fliers in front of her and told their teacher, who instructed her to stop passing them out.Rockett said his teacher confiscated his fliers, “raised her voice” in disapproval and reported the incident to the principal.” Rockett’s teacher emailed the parents and told them that “school is not the appropriate place” for that.

 Is Read Across America A White’s Only Literacy Event? by Mia Wenjen: Mia Wenjen, a Harvard graduate and founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, has been advocating against the use of Dr. Seuss as the face of Read Across America Day for years. “His racist views were not limited to Asian Americans however. In his illustration, Dr. Seuss draws African Americans as apes in blackface. I personally don’t think that Dr. Seuss should be representing NEA (National Education Association) Read Across America program. Dr. Seuss’ heritage should be recognized in its entirety, and that includes his racist past.”

The Apartheid of Children's Literature by Christopher Myers: “This apartheid of literature has two effects. One is a gap in the much-written-about sense of self-love that comes from recognizing oneself in a text, from the understanding that your life and lives of people like you are worthy of being told, thought about, discussed and even celebrated. We adults — parents, authors, illustrators and publishers — give them in each book a world of supposedly boundless imagination that can delineate the most ornate geographies, and yet too often today’s books remain blind to the everyday reality of thousands of children. Children of color remain outside the boundaries of imagination. The cartography we create with this literature is flawed. Perhaps this exclusivity, in which children of color are at best background characters, and more often than not absent, is in fact part of the imaginative aspect of these books. But what it means is that when kids today face the realities of our world, our global economies, our integrations and overlappings, they all do so without a proper map. They are navigating the streets and avenues of their lives with an inadequate, outdated chart, and we wonder why they feel lost. They are threatened by difference, and desperately try to wish the world into some more familiar form. As for children of color, they recognize the boundaries being imposed upon their imaginations, and are certain to imagine themselves well within the borders they are offered, to color themselves inside the lines.” 

 Where are the People of Color in Children's Books? by Walter Dean Myers: “In 1969, when I first entered the world of writing children’s literature, the field was nearly empty. Children of color were not represented, nor were children from the lower economic classes. Today, when about 40 percent of public school students nationwide are Black and Latino, the disparity of representation is even more egregious. Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color?” 

Classics, Colonization and a Call for Change by Padma Venkatraman: “Re-reading “children’s classics” I realized how much I myself had forgotten. Though I had vague memories of feeling upset or angry when I read certain books as a child, as an adult I was astounded by the plethora of negative ideas perpetrated by brilliant authors of the past.” 

Why White Kids Need Diverse Children's Books by Alvin Irby: “The stereotypical ways in which people of color are represented in modern-day children’s literature, or are altogether missing, bear some responsibility for the prominence of racism in American culture. Reflecting on the importance of who gets seen, when, where, and doing what has led me to conclude that children’s books represent one of the most valuable pieces of real-estate in the fight against racism.” 

5 Reasons Why Everybody Benefits From More Diverse Children's Books by Roxana Barillas: “White children need diverse stories, too. This is something not everyone realizes. Seeing only white characters in books can turn children of color off of reading, but it also keeps white children from getting a clear picture of the world they live in.” 

Why Young People Need Diverse Books by Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez: “Research shows representation in the media is an important part of identity development, particularly for marginalized individuals. However, people of color continue to be underrepresented in many mainstream mediums, particularly children's literature.” 

My Daughter’s Summer Reading List is Old School, And Not In A Good Way by David Valdes Greenwood: “As of July 2016, the US Census Bureau estimates that roughly four of every 10 Americans is non-white or mixed ethnicity. If you look at kids under 18, we’re approaching 50/50. And we’ve just wrapped up the third academic year in which more students of color than white students were enrolled in our public schools. Those numbers aren’t about politics or agendas; those are the facts about the place we call home. Why should you care? When a required education can’t keep up with the world surrounding its students, it has harmful effects for everyone involved.” 


#IndigenousReads by Indigenous Writers

#IndigenousReads by Indigenous Writers