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Reading Month by Betty-Ann Boss

March is Reading Month Gets an Update

By Betty-Ann Boss, Iroquois Campus Library Media Specialist

For the past 10 years, we at GRCES have been celebrating March is Reading Month with all things Dr. Seuss. The National Education Association (NEA) had been using Seuss’ Cat in the Hat for all of its "March is Reading Month" branding for years.

But over the past few years, scholars have been concerned over the racism found in many of Dr. Seuss’ books. An article from NPR’s Code Switch: Race and Identity, Remixed called “Dr. Seuss Books Can be Racist, But Students Keep Reading Them” has this to say:

"This week, millions of students and teachers are taking part in Read Across America, a national literacy program celebrated annually around the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

For over 20 years, teachers and students have donned costumes — often the Cat in the Hat's iconic red and white striped hat — and devoured books like Green Eggs and Ham. But some of Seuss' classics have been criticized for the way they portray people of color.

In "And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street," for example, a character described as Chinese has two lines for eyes, carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice, and wears traditional Japanese-style shoes. In "If I Ran the Zoo," two men said to be from Africa are shown shirtless, shoeless, and wearing grass skirts as they carry an exotic animal.

Outside of his books, the author's personal legacy has come into question, too — Seuss wrote an entire minstrel show in college and performed as the main character in full blackface."

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the group that oversees all Dr. Seuss projects, recently released a statement stating they have decided that it will stop publishing six different books from the author because of overt instances of racism and bigotry in each of them.

The NEA responded to this by re-branding March is Reading Month with a new theme — Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers.

And here at Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School Iroquois Campus, we will do the same. We have been working to develop more diverse classroom libraries and attending workshops, and participating in book clubs to become more culturally competent. This year’s Eagle Book Award contender list has been built with diversity in mind — we are doing so much to grow our diverse mindset; let’s continue.

GRCES theme for March is Reading Month is Wild About Reading! We will have Wild Wednesdays. Not all the days relate directly to reading, but we are also using these Wednesdays to have some fun and build some school spirit.

  • March 3: Read Your Shirt Day (wear a shirt with words)
  • March 10: Clash Day (wear mismatched clothes)
  • March 24: Team Day (wear Eagle gear or your favorite team jersey)
  • March 31: Shades Day (bring your favorite sunglasses for reading!)

Students at GRCES will also be holding our readathon to support the Kakuma Book Drive.

Please take time to encourage your students to read their favorite books both at school and at home.

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