Let’s Talk About Dr. Seuss
Hello all and to all hello. Let’s talk about a certain Mr. Doctor fellow. We all know him well and of this I’m sure, we all know him as the great, great grandfather of children’s literature. You’ve guessed it, you’ve guessed it right, you’re the best guesser in all Bookmans’ sight. Dr. Seuss as they call him, I’m sure you already knew. He wrote the one about the cat in the hat and those green eggs and ham too. There’s a Wocket In My Pocket was also pretty neat. Just as charming as what you’ll find on Mulberry Street!
Dr. Seuss has brought amazing reads to our kids today. However, a few of his reads rub our friends the wrong way. I will discuss my thoughts, no need to shed a tear. But this is a serious conversation, so the rhyming stops here.
Here at Bookmans, we have a staunch anti-censorship policy. Of course, Bookmans believes that all literature should be accessible to anyone willing to read, regardless of how offensive or unnecessary their choices may be. However, children’s books with racist depictions are just plain absurd and entirely uncalled for, regardless of the era they were written.
But they exist, so let’s talk about them.
By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the controversy stemming from specific Dr. Seuss titles being removed from reprinting for their racist depictions of characters. Along with the condemnation of said books came the surge in collecting them. These titles can be found online, priced for hundreds of dollars. I’ve seen it firsthand, those star-belly Sneeches clearing out the kids’ section for those specific books!
For the record, we have not stopped carrying Dr. Seuss books nor do we plan to do so in the future. Bookmans has a cultural commitment to fighting censorship in whatever form it takes.
Racism is obviously wrong, but please DO NOT act like it’s something new to this world. It’s been here, right along with these books, far longer than the 70+ years since these books were written. But – it’s entirely on you to decide what your children are exposed to and why.
SECOND, HERE’S MY POV ON THE SUBJECT.
People spend a lot of time searching for the next cancelable thing. You can tear your hair out trying to uproot all the bad in the world. You can also reflect on what’s good if you choose to. What’s good is growth, understanding, and that big ole ‘F’ word I’ll drop later. It may feel empowering to give your energy to what is and isn’t on the canceled reading list. However, it takes time to do that. Opt to spend that time you have talking with your children about these books and why the content within them is inappropriate/outmoded/racist/prejudice/or just plain wrong-thinking. While you’re doing that, find out what your children actually want to read and why.
At Bookmans, we have endless kids’ books that foster inclusivity, celebrate Indigenous people, explore identity and history, practice empathy, cultivate compassion, and most importantly emphasize diversity. Introduce your kids to Matthew Cherry, author of Hair Love, or Barry Lopez, author of Crow and Weasel. If you’re interested in the picture book classics, we have those too! I bet your four-year-old has never heard of Bill Martin’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or anything David Kirk’s Little Miss Spider-related!
This is the type of literature my children will grow up reading and learn to be socially responsible from. Oh, all the places they’ll go!
DISCUSSION NOT OVER.
We do not, in the slightest bit, judge people on what they read. However, remember that reading is actually still fundamental and that knowledge is power. What you choose to do with that power can either shape and color the world fuller and more vibrantly or it can keep you constantly stuck on chapter cancel culture. It’s okay to expend your energy practicing and expressing that big ole ‘F’ word – forgiveness. No excuses are necessary or provided to justify the wrong in the world, including those Dr. Seuss books. I encourage everyone to acknowledge it. Keep the discussion going. Look it in the face and if possible, make amends. Learn from the experience, grow from it, and move on to bigger and better things to read.
Let’s talk about Dr. Seuss with our kids.
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