Dr Seuss books to be included in Read Across America Day 2022 after being dropped last year

The books were omitted from event last year amid scrutiny over work’s racist undertones

The White House will include Dr Seuss books in its annual Read Across America Day, after removing the author’s books from the event last year.

On Tuesday, President Biden followed the tradition of proclaiming 2 March as National Read Across America Day. The event, founded by the National Education Association in 1998 to promote reading among children, occurs each year on the birthday of Dr Seuss.

“For many young Americans, the path to literacy begins with treasured and timeless traditions,” President Biden said in his proclamation. “Children’s classics such as Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! have inspired a passion for reading and endless creativity that spans generations.”

“Today’s stories and adventures are as diverse as the world in which we live, and by reading them, we come to more fully understand the vibrant diversity of our Nation - and the world,” the White House said. “This is especially important as young people learn and grow with their own sense of identity.”

Last year, the National Education Association pivoted away from Dr Seuss books to focus on more diverse children’s books. The removal of the author’s books - whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel - came after much scrutiny over his use of racist undertones and tropes within his work.

When asked why the author’s books were left out of the celebration in 2021, White House press secretary Jen Psaki directed the comment to the Department of Education.

“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 said according to Forbes

Following the controversy, Dr Seuss Enterprises pulled six books from publication over their use of “hurtful and wrong” imagery. The company, which manages the author’s estate, explained in a statement last year that it had worked “with a panel of experts, including educators” to review its catalogue, bearing in mind values of “hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship”.

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