Read Across America Celebrates Seuss in Downtown Canby

The sun it did shine. It was not too wet to play! The weather turned fine just in time for Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

And despite Covid-19 and controversies many, a great, booktastic tradition continued in the grand town of Canby.

Read Across America has been a Canby tradition for decades, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Canby, Canby Public Library and Cutsforth’s Market.

Courtesy of Luana Hill.

This year’s iteration was always going to be a bit of a challenge due to the continuing pandemic, but a new wrinkle emerged just as the event was set to get underway Saturday — a day chosen to coincide with National Read Across America Day on March 2 — the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the beloved children’s book author’s legacy, also chose March 2 to announce it would stop publishing six titles because of imagery deemed racially insensitive, including If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool and And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

The move to cease publication of the books soon became a battleground in the nation’s ongoing culture wars — because of course it did — with conservative commentators calling it yet another example of liberal “cancel culture,” though Dr. Seuss Enterprises made the decision on its own, after months of discussion with Geisel’s family as well as educators and academics.

Courtesy of Luana Hill.

To say the least, it made for an interesting backdrop Saturday, as a team of volunteers — having already made plans and purchase decor and giveaway items — got ready to stage Canby’s Read Across America Day as a drive-thru event in the parking lot of Caldera International’s offices in the former Parsons building.

“Our goal was simply to promote a love of reading — something we can all agree on,” said longtime Kiwanis member Luana Hill.

The community responded with a steady stream of traffic throughout the day, until volunteers finally ran out of treats and activity packets (and nearly ran out of books) around 2 p.m.

Courtesy of Luana Hill.

Hill thanked the library and the Cutsforth family for their dedicated support of the event (pre-pandemic, it was traditionally hosted in the Olde Town Hall events center above Cutsforth’s Market).

The library donated books, and children’s librarian Peggy Wickwire took part in the event Saturday. The Book Nook, Canby’s independent bookseller which recently completed its move to the other side of the Parson’s building, set up its life-size Cat in the Hat to join in the fun.

Courtesy of Luana Hill.

Kiwanians added more books to the giveaway pile, including some bilingual choices, along with stickers, pencils, and activity sheets assembled by Bob Hill.

“A fun group of volunteers enjoyed giving out books,” Luana Hill said. “Mary Ashton and Doris Robertson organized the books by age and reading level and Luana Hill handled decorations and giveaways.”

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