Biden drops mention of Dr. Seuss from annual Read Across America Day proclamation
President Biden did not mention Dr. Seuss in his proclamation for Read Across America Day on Tuesday, a National Education Association-sponsored event that coincides with the children’s author’s birthday.
Former Presidents Obama and Trump both mentioned the writer, born Theodor Geisel, in their respective proclamations, with Obama’s 2014 proclamation praising him for calling “us to open our minds, to take responsibility for ourselves and our planet.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki referred questions at a Tuesday briefing about the specific text of the proclamation to the Department of Education, which she said was responsible for writing it, but said generally that it is “important that children of all backgrounds see themselves in the children’s books that they read.”
The teachers union, which has put on the event since 1998, had partnered with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that publishes his books and manages his estate, until 2018.
Meanwhile, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced on Tuesday that it will no longer publish six of the author’s 46 children’s books, including his first, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” over their racist imagery and offensive language.
“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,” the company said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Loudoun County, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., made national headlines last month when it announced it would not make Seuss the focus of its 2021 Read Across America events for similar reasons. As that story went viral, so did false claims that Seuss’s books had been banned outright in the school district.
Loudoun County Public Schools “provided this guidance to schools during the past couple of years to not connect Read Across America Day exclusively with Dr. Seuss’ birthday,” the district said in a statement.
“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,” it added. “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.”
— Updated at 1:39 p.m. Morgan Chalfant contributed.