100 Scope Notes
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Thing 1 and Thing 2: A Pair of Dr. Seuss Controversies

Seuss Quote

Dr. Seuss has been in the news a lot lately. And not just in the children’s literature corner of the internet. Like in Time magazine (see above). And a whole bunch of newspapers and television. Two different Seuss-related controversies are to blame, so let’s do a quick recap . . .

Thing 1: A school librarian turned down the first lady’s gift of Dr. Seuss books.

It all started with a blog post over at The Horn Book. It was the perfect storm of politics and a perceived attack on a beloved pubic figure (Seuss).

Thing 2: Lisa Yee, Mike Curato, and Mo Willems turned down an invitation to appear at the Dr. Seuss museum due to a mural containing a racial stereotype.

The museum decided to take down the mural, after which the book creators offered to visit. Will the museum re-extend the invite? We shall see. I particularly like Grace Lin’s take on the situation, in her blog post ok, let’s talk about Dr. Seuss. . .

In both situations, there seems to be two sides.

On one side we have those who say we should acknowledge Geisel’s offensive work and, hey, not celebrate it. This seems reasonable and fair to me.

On the other side we have those who say A) this work isn’t offensive B) this work is a product of its era and shouldn’t be held to modern standards C) Geisel did a bunch of great work so we don’t need to talk about the offensive stuff D) it’s a case of political correctness gone too far E) if you criticize a legend than you are saying that legend is 100% evil and should be forgotten completely and that’s wrong.

Where do you stand?

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.