New Mexico school plans to celebrate Dr. Seuss amid racial controversy

Education

CORRALES, N.M. (KRQE) – The celebration of a beloved children’s author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss is set to continue at one New Mexico school this week and it’s sparking some discussion after some of the author’s books came under fire for racial undertones. Cutouts of dozens of beloved Dr. Seuss characters can be seen near and throughout the Cottonwood Montessori Pre and Elementary School campus.

“It’s just something teachers do,” says Trish Nickerson, Founder and Executive Director of the Cottonwood School. Every year the school kicks off National Book Month by celebrating the author’s birthday. “It’s really a joyful expression of language, literature, arts and crafts,” Nickerson says.

However, this year’s celebration comes at a unique time. Dr.Seuss Enterprises announced Tuesday that six books including “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo” will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery. “Dr. Seuss himself apologized for the racial content of his illustrations and his story,” Nickerson says.

Nickerson says despite the recent controversy they have no plans to cancel the author. “We don’t gloss it over but we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater,” Nickerson says. She believes this could be a teachable moment of race and biases. “It’s nothing to get upset or angry about. You just drill down what’s historically accurate. Where the content is coming from,” Nickerson says

Nickerson says the whimsical tone of Dr. Seuss has always gotten kids excited about reading and that will be the focus of their celebration on Friday. “We are just taking pieces of the story and personalizing them and bringing them into our celebration without the focus being on the negativity but on the literature its self,” Nickerson says. Nickerson says they have not received any complaints from parents about their Dr. Seuss celebration.

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