Daddy must have read The Gingerbread Man to me at least 1000 times before I learned to read for myself, and by then, I had outgrown it—well, mostly outgrown it. Every Christmas when I carefully cut out gingerbread men to pop in the oven, the story comes back to me in Daddy’s deep bass voice.
“Once upon a time . . .”
Daddy gave me a gift of reading that has entertained me for 73 years now and continues to do so.
When my children came, we read that book, but many of the children’s books on our shelves were from Dr. Seuss. I know I replaced a bedraggled copy of The Cat in the Hat several times. Green Eggs and Ham was a particular favorite, too, as was Horton Hears a Who. I can’t even imagine Christmas without the Grinch, and every baby of this household loved Hop on Pop. I could list all his titles, but I won’t. Let it suffice to say we loved everyone we read.
Now six Dr. Seuss books—And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat’s Quizzer, On Beyond Zebra, and McElligot’s Pool will no longer be published because some folks deem some of the illustrations “racist and insensitive.”
“Those darn liberals!” you might say, but you’d be at least partially wrong. No, twas the business whose business it is to preserve and protect the author’s legacy that did the dastardly deed after conferring with “those darn liberals.” Fine job, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, of protecting this major children’s author’s legacy and reputation. You even did it on his birthday! What a travesty! I understand exactly what you’re doing and why, but I vehemently disagree. People are trying to rewrite history and literature to make them conform to what they think life should have been, not what it was. Not only that but censoring books is once again afoot—maybe still. Square pegs don’t fit into round holes; one size does not fit all. If people don’t want to read those six books, then please don’t force them to read them. If I on the other hand, do, then don’t interfere. I will read what I wish. Red fish blue fish!
I’m no stranger to censorship; many a night I’ve lain awake in my English teacher night cap trying to figure out how to open people’s minds to different opinions, to encourage them to think for themselves. It worked well with my students. Sorrowfully, I must report that none of my ideas worked with adults. Joyfully, I report that those people didn’t change my mind one iota. People who think Dr. Seuss racist need to pore a bit over The Sneetches, which explains to young children that no matter what we look like on the surface, we’re all alike underneath. Sure sounds racist to me. Let’s have a book burning on the courthouse square next Saturday and bring along those books banned from Appling County class rooms as well.
Geisel (Dr. Seuss is his pen name) did his own illustrations, some of which some people find offensive. Perhaps they have no complaint with the text yet, but it’s just a matter of time. These illustrations were perfectly all right when the books were published. In 1998, the National Education Association designated Dr. Seuss’ birthday as Read Across America Day, an annual event aimed at encouraging children and teens to read. Apparently, the National Education Association of 1998 was ignorant. Now the greatly enlightened Dr. Seuss Enterprises of 2020 (that’s when the decision was made) has designated his birthday as “dispose of six of his books” day.
“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,” it said.
I wonder how broad the group they consulted was. How diverse? Were any of my like-minded peers consulted? I doubt it. I am appalled.
Hide your copies of the Gingerbread Man. In case you haven’t read it lately, that book teaches trickery and murder.
I don’t understand why people cannot live and let live, read and let read. If you don’t want to read any Dr. Seuss books to your children and grandchildren, then don’t and that will be fine with me. But don’t tell me and mine what to read. There’s no more certain way to ensure that I read it. Then I will decide whether to read it to my young ones. Since Dr. Seuss isn’t here to defend his books, I feel privileged to do it for him and the young generations of readers to come.
• Should you wish to contact me, you may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.