Zug Found Under Rug

Allan Appel PhotoThere was a zug under the ... rug, Mayor Harp said, calling the kids’ attention to the pleasurably goofy rhyme as she read to them from Dr. Seuss’s There’s A Wocket In My Pocket

The scene was the Strong School on Orchard Street. The occasion National Read Across America Day, to be officially celebrated on Saturday, to mark the anniversary of Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

It was marked in New Haven on Friday through a United Way-sponsored read-along at eight area schools.

The effort involves 127 classrooms, about 3,800 students, and a contribution by United Way and its sponsors of 400 of Dr. Seuss’s books to augment classroom libraries across the area and to call awareness to the importance and joys of reading.

Mayor Toni Harp was one of about 70 volunteers, most others coming from Yale-New Haven Health facilities, who thronged the Strong School lobby Friday morning for the event kick-off of.

The walls and table surfaces were festooned with Cat In the Hat-esque red and white toppling top hats, images of the Lorax, other characters from the Seuss ouevre. The whole place was “Seussified,” to use the term employed by the school’s long-time Principal Susan DiNicola.

The other schools in New Haven participating were Clinton Avenue School and the Fair Haven School.

Before dispersing to read to every classroom in the K through fourth grade school, volunteers heard a short but moving speech by fourth grader Luaryeishka Cirino-Correa. She has participated in all of the four previous United Way-sponsored National Read Along events at the Strong School.

In an interview before she took the stage, Luaryeishka said she enjoys both reading alone and with other people. When she reads with other people and they correct her, she said she doesn’t mind at all. And her favorite place for reading ? Why, at home. Particularly in the living room.

In further interviews on the secrets of their reading habits, the Independent queried two first graders, both wearing Cat in the Hat headwear, who were waiting to meet their readers for the day.

Luis Castillo and Jameera Williams said they too enjoy reading both alone and in school and at their homes with people around them. Luis said his favorite Dr. Seuss Books were Cat in the Hat and One Fish Two Fish.

Jameera said there are more places to read at school than at home.

Pressed on the subject, Luis said his most favorite place to read was on his bed, and preferably under it. “It’s a good place [to read and] to hide,” he added.

Principal Susan DiNicola essentially echoed the kids’ revelation about factors contributing to success in reading. “The biggest factor is to connect the reading in school with the reading at home.”

She said her school — which will be renamed the Obama School next year when it transfers to the campus of Southern Connecticut State University — has made significant progress in its overall scores.

“We’ve been identified as a statewide ‘school of distinction,’” she said, “for the largest growth in math among our high needs kids. And we’ve also made gains in reading.”

“Reading excitement” — which is one of the main points of the Read Across America campaign — is so important. Even as adults,” DiNicola added. “We have to keep reading to stay sharp. The more you read, the better you’ll be.”

The mayor took pleasure in reading The Wocket In My Pocket, but she confessed that her favorite books as a kid were not Seussian. Her favorites included the Madeline books, by Ludwig Bemelemans — telling how a little girl in yellow boots in Paris negotiates life’s problems.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 1, 2019  6:53pm

Dr. Seuss was a Racist.

Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away From Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books

National Education Association (NEA), will be shifting its focus toward a year-round promotion of diverse children’s books. It’s a change resulting from both a heightened awareness of representation in kid lit, as well as growing scrutiny of racial imagery in the work of the beloved children’s book author. Katie Ishizuka has been analyzing Seuss’ body of work for the past year.THE CAT IN THE HAT AND BLACKFACE MINSTRELSY

“In addition to how people of color are portrayed in his children’s books through Orientalist and anti-Black stereotypes and caricatures, they are almost always presented as subservient, and peripheral to, the white characters,” concludes Ishizuka in her study. She points out that the Cat in the Hat, perhaps Seuss’ most famous character, is based on minstrel stereotypes. “The Cat’s physical appearance, including the Cat’s oversized top hat, floppy bow tie, white gloves, and frequently open mouth, mirrors actual blackface performers; as does the role he plays as ‘entertainer’ to the white family—in whose house he doesn’t belong,” says Ishizuka.

Dr. Seuss books are ‘racist,’ new study says. Should kids still read them?

Joe Raedle / Getty
Dr. Seuss once said, “You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

And, according to a new study from St. Catherine University, that should be away from Dr. Seuss books.

The study, published in the journal for Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, analyzes 50 books and more than 2,200 characters created by Dr. Seuss. Of those characters, only 45 are of colour.“The presence of anti-blackness, Orientalism and white supremacy span across Seuss’ entire literary collection and career,” say researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramon Stephens.