Renaming School Corps Geisel booktalks

For many years, School Corps has offered the Geisel Award winner booktalks as a program in schools. The Geisel Award is named after Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, and is awarded by the American Library Association to the most distinguished book for beginning readers. Books that win the Geisel Award are engaging for youth who are just learning to read. The Geisel Award booktalks presented by School Corps introduce students to current award winners and encourage students to get into reading.

In recent years, educators, parents, librarians, and researchers have brought attention to racist imagery present in many of Dr. Seuss’ books, as well as his own racist beliefs during his lifetime. A paper published in 2019 titled “The Cat is out of Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books,” assessed 50 of Seuss’s books and found that people of color only made up 2% of characters in his books, and that depictions of people of color represented orientalist and anti-Black beliefs. This paper also brings light to Seuss’s racist beliefs expressed through political cartoons he created. In March 2021, Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to discontinue the publication of 6 titles written by Dr. Seuss with overtly racist imagery. 

With this information and with the goal of leading with race, creating a safe and equitable space for students to learn and access books and library resources, the School Corps team has decided to no longer refer to the Geisel award booktalks using his name. We believe names carry power and in promoting his name through this program, we are partially endorsing his messages. The Geisel award booktalks will be replaced with a program called Silly, Fun Books for Beginning Readers. These booktalks will feature books that are diverse, enjoyable for children, and perfect for young readers. 

Please feel free to contact the School Corps team at lib.school.corps@multcolib.org with questions!

Sources and further reading:

The Cat is out of Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books

Dr. Seuss Enterprises to Stop Publishing Six Books Due to Racist Imagery 

Dr. Seuss was racist. Why are we still reading his books?