Raising a Conscious Kid: Alternatives to Dr Seuss

Image via Teach For the Change Instagram

I’ve had to realise that a huge part of raising a conscious kid is confronting the racism in my beloved childhood books. Many authors I read as a child and through school have not withstood present day scrutiny, which is a very good thing. The most recent writer of children’s books to receive this assessment is Dr Seuss.

A quick Google search using the terms ‘Dr Seuss racist’ shows us this topic is not new. Theodore Geisel (AKA Dr Seuss) published Orientalism propaganda supporting internment of Japanese Americans, he wrote and performed minstrel shows and drew cartoons celebrating them, and brought this racism and white supremacy into his books.

As this was slowly coming to light, in 2018 the American ‘Read Across America Day’ quietly updated its logo to remove the Cat in the Hat, but the books are still prolific, even in popular culture. We have several Dr Seuss books on our son’s bookshelf and he particularly loves Fox in Socks.

As our family continues to decolonise our toddler’s library, we’ve made an effort to bring books in that serve the same purpose as Dr Seuss books: alliteration, rhyming, counting, or just silliness.

Below are a handful of anti-racist books we all love in our house. Another incredible list can be found on Teach For the Change. Tell me what you’re reading to your little ones! We love getting more anti-racist book recommendations.

A is for Activist, Innosanto Nagara

A is for Awesome!, Eva Chen

Counting on Community, Innosanto Nagara

Dream Big, Little One: Bold Women in Black History, Vashti Harrison

Little Feminist board book set, Emily Kleinman & Lydia Ortiz

Little People, Big Dreams: Jean Michel Basquiat, Maria Isobel Sánchez Vegara

Little People, Big Dreams: Rosa Parks, Maria Isobel Sánchez Vegara

Little People, Big Dreams: Harriet Tubman, Maria Isobel Sánchez Vegara

NB. A word of caution as you seek to diversify your children’s books: it is important to research the authorship of books not specifically labeled by Black writers. I purchased a few books celebrating aspects of popular culture, only to realise they were egregious examples of cultural appropriation.

--

--

--

American immigrant in the U.K.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Book Review: The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting By Paul Raeburn And Kevin Zollman

Importance of books in Children’s life

I Never Wanted to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom.

The pros and cons of childfree living

New Shoes and a Drunk Tornado

Last we talked about impending Bengaluru trip.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Leslie Hitchcock

Leslie Hitchcock

American immigrant in the U.K.

More from Medium

Empathy for human sacrifice and visiting the Yucatán Peninsula

Can we please bring back iZombie? #no-brainer

Out beyond the ideas of right & wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there.

New York City: Dreamers & the Joy in the Doing