White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki deflected a question regarding President Biden removing Dr. Seuss’s books from being mentioned in the March 2nd ‘Read Across America Day’ presidential proclamation.
During Tuesday’s White House Press Briefing, Psaki was asked why Biden had not noted Dr. Seuss even though his predecessors — Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama infamously mentioned the Dr. Seuss’ books and contributions in the proclamation with former First Ladies Melania Trump and Michelle Obama reading his books to children during Read Across America Day events.
“Both former Presidents Obama and Trump mentioned Dr. Seuss in their Read Across America Day proclamations, but President Biden did not. Why not?” a Fox News reporter asked Psaki.
“Well, first, the proclamation was written by the Department of Education, and you could certainly speak to them about more specifics about the drafting of it,” Psaki said.
“But Read Across America Day, which has not existed forever; it has only been around for a short period of time — elevates and celebrates a love of reading among our nation’s youngest leaders,” Psaki added. “And the day is also a chance to celebrate diverse authors whose work and lived experience reflect the diversity of our country. And that’s certainly what they attempted to do or hope to do this year.”
The press secretary was then pressed if the omission was due to the latest controversy surrounding a study on Dr. Seuss’ books that claims it lacked diversity while portraying racism in the characters.
“As we celebrate the love of reading and uplift diverse and representative authors, it is especially important that we ensure all children can see themselves represented and celebrated in the books that they read,” she stated.
Psaki emphasized that books should ensure “all children can see themselves represented and celebrated,” before punting the question.
“Again, I think it is important that children of all backgrounds see themselves in the children’s books that they read. But I would point you to the Department of Education for any more details on the writing of the proclamation,” she said.
Biden earlier on Tuesday removed mentions of Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day proclamation amid cancel culture accusations of “racial undertones” within the imagery of the classic whimsical children’s books. The world’s most popular children’s books have come under fire in recent years based on useless studies claiming the imaginary in the books portray black people, Asian people, and other groups in a negative and racist way.
Six of Dr. Seuss’ books will cease the sales over racist and insensitive imagery, according to Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Those books are “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” will no longer be published.
In the presidential proclamation, Biden noted that “for many Americans, the path to literacy begins with storytime in their school classroom.”
However, both Obama and Trump highlighted Dr. Seuss’ contributions in their annual presidential proclamations for Read Across America Day.
“The works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to us as Dr. Seuss, have sparked a love for reading in generations of students.,” Obama said in his 2015 proclamation. “His whimsical wordplay and curious characters inspire children to dream big and remind readers of all ages that ‘a person’s a person no matter how small.’”
Trump, in his 2018 proclamation, urged Americans 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.’”
Six of the titles will no longer be published because they are said to contain racist imagery and description. For example — “Mulberry Street,” the first children’s book Dr. Seuss published contains a controversial illustration of an Asian man holding chopsticks and a bowl of rice whom the text called “A Chinese man Who eats with sticks.”
Read Across America Day, started in 1998 by the National Educational Association (NEA) to promote children’s reading happens to occur on the same day as Dr. Seuss’s birthday. However, the NEA deemphasized Dr. Seuss’s books encouraged a more diverse reading list for children.
March 1 marks the start of National Reading Month – with special celebrations across the nation planned for Read Across America Day on March 2 to encourage children to read.