Since 1998, March 2 has been celebrated as “Read Across America Day,” a date suggested by the National Education Association in order to honor the birthday of the iconic children’s author Dr. Seuss. Since the day’s establishment, presidents as disparate as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have mentioned the author in their comments about the day.
Not this year. After Virginia’s largest school district, Loudoun County Public Schools, removed Dr. Seuss from its Read Across America Day celebration, President Biden left out any mention of the author from his proclamation.
As The Daily Wire reported on February 26:
Learning for Justice — a left-wing educators group — is demanding that Dr. Seuss be canceled. A prominent Virginia school district has taken marching orders and ordered its schools to avoid “connecting Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss.” Loudoun County Public Schools, one of the nation’s most affluent school districts, announced that it will no longer recognize Dr. Seuss on his birthday. In an announcement obtained by The Daily Wire, the school district said that Dr. Seuss’s children’s books contain “racial undertones” that are not suitable for “culturally responsive” learning.
“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,” the 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 radical undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss.”
The day is celebrated on March 2 unless it falls on a weekend, in which case it is held on the nearest school day.
In 2000, former President Bill Clinton stated on radio, “On March 2, volunteers across the country will celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday by reading to more than 20 million youngsters in the third annual Read Across America Day.”
“Both former President Barack Obama and former President Donald Trump both recognized Dr. Seuss’ contributions several times in their proclamations each year,” the Daily Mail noted.
Former President Trump stated in his 2018 proclamation to “always remember the still-vibrant words of Dr. Seuss: ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’”
Former First Lady Melania Trump also specifically called attention to the popular children’s book author. “Dr. Seuss has brought so much joy, laughter and enchantment into children’s lives all around the globe for generations,” she said in 2017. “Through his captivating rhymes, Dr. Seuss has delighted and inspired children while teaching them to read, to dream, and to care.”
Biden’s proclamation included statements such as these:
I have always believed that America’s children are the kite strings that keep our national ambitions aloft — the more we do today to spark their curiosity, their confidence, and their imaginations, the stronger our country will be tomorrow. The key to developing young learners into engaged, active, and innovative thinkers is instilling in them a love of reading at an early age. Reading is the gateway to countless skills and possibilities — it sets children on the path to a lifetime of discovery. 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.
Once a passion for reading takes hold in a young person, the benefits extend far beyond the classroom. Reading broadens our perspective, introduces us to new worlds, cultures, and languages, and cultivates our sense of empathy and understanding of other people’s experiences and views. Reading informs us, empowers us, and teaches us the lessons of history. It helps us make sense of the world as it is — and inspires us to dream of what it could be.
But no mention of Dr. Seuss.