It’s really disappointing when you find out a beloved children’s author was actually really racist and also included many of those racist sentiments in his super popular children’s literature. I know for me, it took a little while to let them go. I thought that perhaps they still had enough merit with their rhymes, alliteration, and fun for young readers.
But I eventually realized that it wasn’t worth it to me to have them sitting around and to have my children internalizing the messages from the words and illustrations. There are too many other excellent, inclusive children’s books out there for me to want to spend time apologizing for problematic ones.
Still, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with our stack of Dr. Seuss books once I decided I didn’t want them in our home. I pulled together 10 ideas of things you can do if you also are wondering what to do with Dr. Seuss books and want to remove Dr. Seuss from your home.
And if you’ve found out your school is still celebrating Dr. Seuss and you’re not sure what to say, I put together a sample school email/letter. I hope this makes it easy for you to speak up and advocate for more inclusive children’s literature!
10 Ideas For What To Do With Your Dr. Seuss Books
Make Paper Clay and Create Papier Mache Bowls with Dr. Seuss Books
This is a similar technique to papier mache. Start by cutting your Seuss pages into small pieces. Then it uses very basic ingredients (hot water, flour, salt, and a regular or hand blender) to create a paste, which you can mold into something inspiring. Even better – when it’s dry, paint an inspiring, antiracist message on it. (Here are instructions for making papier mache fruit bowls.)
Make Homemade Paper with Dr. Seuss Books
Caroline Pritchard had a brilliant idea to shred the pages from old Dr. Seuss they owned and make homemade paper out of them. After they dried, the wrote passages from other, inclusive books on them and framed them. It’s a perfect project if you’ve found out that Dr. Seuss was racist and you’ve chosen to get rid of Dr. Seuss books.
Seuss Quote Art
Find a favorite quote from a BIPOC author, poet, musician, speaker, or other leader. Find the words (or letters to create the words) from the Seuss books and cut them out. Paste them on a new piece of paper and decorate.
Stuff Multicultural Felt Dolls with Seuss Paper
This sweet little felt doll would be perfect stuffed with eco-friendly bits of old Seuss papers instead of batting. Make them in an assortment of skin tones for some open-ended play.
Rolled Paper Coasters out of Dr. Seuss Books
To do this project, start by ripping out a page from one of the books. Cut the page in half lengthwise, then glue them together at the short ends to create a long strip. Allow glue to dry. Paint over the paper with opaque acrylic paint. Let dry. Using a Sharpie, write inspiring messages or quotes from BIPOC folx.
Using a skewer, fold the paper over and continue folding to make a long coil. (Like this.) When you get to the end, dab a small bit of Glossy Accents or hot glue to the edge to hold the coil together. Take one end and coil inward, continuing until you’ve reached the end. Glue in place and use.
Sensory Wet Paper Bin Out of Old Books
Toddlers love splashing, so this is a great activity for little ones to literally get their hands wet. Just find a small plastic tub and fill it with water and sheets of Seuss paper. Let your child go to town playing with and touching it! This is best to do outside or on top of a towel. It’s a great and easy activity to use the pages for good if you’ve discovered that Dr. Seuss is racist.
Shred the Pages and Use for Packing For a Gift to A Loved One
Shredded paper makes terrific packing material. Consider sending a gift to a loved one – perhaps something that encourages antiracist action.
Study And Discuss Dr. Seuss Books
Teach for the Change has a beautiful bookmark template that’s great to use with slightly older children. It guides you through prompts of studying the books together and evaluating them critically, with open-ended questions for discussion about racism in Dr. Seuss books.
Line A Chicken Coop with Dr. Seuss Books
If you have a chicken coop or laying box, shred your paper and lay it inside. It’s perfect for keeping warm and lasts much longer than hay. Here’s more info.
Recycle Dr. Seuss Books
Many will feel that it’s wrong to simply throw out books. However, perhaps you feel understandable discomfort with having Seuss books in your home, but don’t have the time or resources to do one of these projects. That’s okay. It’s more important that you set the example of removing racist thought and influence from your home.
So while simply recycling the books may not feel ideal, it is still concrete action that prevents them from being read further. One way to recycle them is to use them as “brown matter” for compost – just shred the pages and add along with your “green matter.” (While colored paper is considered safe by the Composting Council, you’ll want to decide your comfort on this for yourself. This article has more info.)
[…] discussion with my little ones. So we decided to remove them from our bookshelves. (Here are 10 ideas for what to do with your Dr. Seuss books. Also, here are some Alternatives to Dr. Seuss Day if your school is celebrating Read Across […]