Old Books, New Books, Red Books, Blue Books!
Today is Read Across America Day, a celebration originally inspired by Theodore Geisel—the one and only Dr. Seuss—and held March 2nd in honor of his birthday. Presented by the National Education Association (NEA), Read Across America Day is a day to encourage young readers and their families to take time out to read and explore the ideas and lessons that books can teach.
Although the celebration originated with Dr. Seuss's books, the program has greatly expanded to include more diverse stories, authors, and illustrators. This is part of a movement throughout children's literature—and indeed, books in general!—to better reflect the sheer variety of lived experiences we all face just by virtue of being human.
Today, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the publisher of Dr. Seuss's books, announced that they will no longer be publishing six of Seuss's older books due to hurtful portrayals of minority groups. This is a great step in encouraging young readers to move beyond stereotypes of the past and learn about the real experiences of people who are different from themselves. As the NEA points out on their website, "Students need books that provide both windows and mirrors if we are going to create more readers, writers, and people who feel included and recognized, and who understand that the world is far richer than just their experiences alone." Many of Dr. Seuss's books are still a fantastic resource for young readers, but as Dr. Seuss himself might say, readers should explore old books, new books, red books, and blue books!
If your young Dr. Seuss fans are ready to try something new as well, here are a few books that offer a new take on familiar themes!
If they love The Lorax, check out We Are Water Protectors!
This gorgeously illustrated (and Caldecott Medal-winning) book touches on some of the same environmental themes as The Lorax, but this time from the cultural perspective of indigenous people. Author Carole Lindstrom is a member of Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, and illustrator Michaela Goade is a member of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, and their cultural heritage is evident in the language and symbolism throughout the book.
If they love The Cat in the Hat, check out Pete the Cat!
Pete is one cool cat with lots of adventures for readers of all interests and ages. Some of his stories rhyme, some include skills like counting, and others offer kid-friendly lessons on teamwork and friendship. While Pete generally prefers his groovy shoes to a hat, his books are a great next step for young readers.
If they love Fox in Socks, check out See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog!
While the humor in this book doesn't come from tongue-twisting language like Fox in Socks, young readers will still find plenty of laughs as the poor dog is mistaken for a cat (or is he?), accosted by a snake, and nearly sat on by a hippo. The conversational style between the reader/narrator and the dog makes for a fun and interactive read.
If they love Green Eggs and Ham, try Huevos Verdes con Jamón!
A number of Dr. Seuss's books have been released in Spanish, and if your young readers are already familiar with the English edition, expand their horizons with a look at how another language shapes the same story.
If they love One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, try Counting Creatures!
Designed to age with young readers, Counting Creatures is a beautifully designed picture book that features lots of flaps and peek-through holes for little ones to explore while also introducing lots of animals both familiar and unusual. Fun to read rhyming text makes it engaging as a read-aloud, and easy for young readers to pick up on their own.