“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss
It’s Read Across America Day! 20 years ago, it was decided to create a day of celebration to get families and children excited about reading. And since the Dr. is such a household name, they decided to hold the celebration on his birthday, March 2nd.
I know everyone loves to showcase their best Dr. Seuss inspired crafts, projects, costumes, etc.— and I totally love them! But today isn’t just about him, it’s about reading in general. And I’ve got a feeling that Dr. Seuss wouldn’t mind sharing his birthday celebration with any author who is out there trying to better this world, one story at a time— just like he did.
UPDATE: My friend Katie (founder of The Conscious Kid) brought this to my attention about Dr. Seuss and it really struck a chord. Warning: this is extremely offensive and disturbing content: A Call To Action To The NEA: Read Across America Day, the Racist History of Dr. Seuss & What it Means in Today’s Social, Political, & Educational Context
“I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, But down here at the bottom, we, too, should have rights.” – Dr. Seuss
In a world that becomes increasingly divided, it is so important to teach our children about inclusion and love that has no prerequisites.
And what’s the best way to raise your kids to love and celebrate diverse people, cultures, and lifestyles? Read books to them that celebrate people, cultures, and lifestyles that are different than their own.
My dear friend, Katie, started an incredible non-profit with her husband called The Conscious Kid. Their mission is to reduce bias and empower youth through “diverse children’s books featuring positive, empowering & authentic depictions of characters from underrepresented & oppressed groups.” (theconsciouskid.org)
It’s a subscription library — think Stitch Fix, but for books — allowing you to enjoy three new books each month without ever needing to walk through long aisles combing indexes and keeping your voices down.
In fact, you can cheer as loud as you want when each month’s books come to your doorstep, without fear of some older librarian in oversized glasses telling you to “Shhhhh!”. And at the end of the month when you’re ready to get your next shipment in, you just put the current borrowed ones in the prepaid return envelope provided and get ready to jump for joy over your next books.
But the best thing about this subscription is that it’s something you can do to make this world a better place and raise inclusive children who love and embrace everyone.
Most books that we find in stores have white, middle class protagonists, who all speak similarly and act similarly to white dominant culture.
I did a little recon on this and went through my own children’s book collection. Many of our books were given to us, so I felt like we had a wide range of diversity. But to my surprise, I only found three books out of 50+ that had even the slightest nod. One was a book about children with disabilities, another was a short book in Spanish, and the last really doesn’t count, because it just showed different ethnicities on two of the 6 pages (not including the cover).
If our children are never exposed to anything outside of themselves, they are being indirectly told that nothing outside of what they know is as important or valuable. After all, if it was, wouldn’t they be learning about it and exposed to it?
That’s one of the many reasons I feel like The Conscious Kid is so important. With this new subscription, we are exposed to books of all diversities, allowing my children to learn about the world outside of themselves, and giving me the proper tools to teach them from a viewpoint other than my own.
Rather than trying to blindly find diverse books to add to our own library, I have the experts at The Conscious Kid hand selecting them for me. And I am already so excited about the books we have received and can’t wait to buy our own personal copies of them to add to our bookshelves.
(Image from The Conscious Kid)
Many people who hate and reject do so because they don’t understand and fear the unknown. But if you expose your children to lifestyles and cultures and people that are different than they are, then those things will no longer be unknown to them, and the cycle of irrational fear will halt.
Join me in raising children who are brave. Brave enough to love, brave enough to trust, brave enough to defend.
Let us raise them to include. To sit with the lonely, to help the needy, to befriend the outcasted.
We have a remarkable opportunity to change the world, and it starts with showing our children what this place could be like if everyone loved one another. You can do that through reading, and I hope you’ll join me in teaching your children— through books, that “a person’s a person no matter how small.” No matter what ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or culture, or lifestyle.
A person is a person. And it’s up to us to make sure our children know that.