Libby Purves tears her hair and groans in response to the report of the American librarian rejecting a gift of books from Melania Trump.
Seuss said he never started with morals — “kids can see a moral coming a mile off” — but noted that all stories had one. His Yertle the Turtle mocks fascist leadership, as the over-ambitious turtle is capsized trying to reach the moon. The Grinch and Lorax condemn materialism and pollution. They’re dated but fun: not “harmful” propaganda. Seuss should frolic alongside newer authors, because once you learn to read you are made free of everything, whether you pick up Auntie Yang and “A Story of Immigration and Separation” or JK Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson, Dahl and Sendak and Nesbit, Alice in Wonderland and Just William and the Beano. Even Little Lord Fauntleroy.
The librarian’s rejection was hastily disowned by her school board, but there is a wider battle to fight. A battle for fantasy and nonsense, for different perspectives; for entering into other lives and attitudes past and present. When you’re two, the very joy of words and jokes connects you to another’s imagination and thence to the wider world. When you’re six, stories about medieval knights or Victorian explorers can obliquely help your own struggles. Black or white, boy or girl, wizard or muggle, you need many doors to many worlds.