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Dr. Seuss books leaped onto Amazon’s top 10 bestselling list on Wednesday, a day after the publisher announced it was yanking six books from the catalog over alleged racist and insensitive content.
Seuss’ books, among them “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Fox in Socks,” made up nine of the top 10 bestselling books on Wednesday morning. And within the Top 50 books, there were more than 30 Seuss titles.
The publisher on Tuesday announced that it would stop selling six titles, citing racist and insensitive imagery. “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement.
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the company told the outlet in a statement Tuesday, which was the 117th birthday of Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel.
The company that seeks to preserve and protect the author’s works said they will no longer publish “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”
While millions of American children have been raised with the books, which include positive messages about tolerance and protecting the environment, some have drawn criticism over the way blacks, Asians and others are drawn. The author has also been ripped for his earlier advertising and propaganda illustrations.
One illustration in the 1937 work “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street” shows a “Chinaman who eats with sticks,” a caricatured picture of an Asian man using chopsticks. Drawings in “If I Ran The Zoo,” published in 1950, shows some black characters resembling monkeys, along with an illustration of an Arab chieftain on a camel with a caption that suggests he should be in a zoo.
Prices soared online. For example, when searching for “If I Ran The Zoo,” the Amazon site listed “1 new,” “1 used,” and “1 collectible,” but when clicking on the links for “new” or “used,” a message popped up reading, “Currently there are no other sellers matching your location and/or item specification.” Yet a “collectible” link showed the book available for $1,500.
“On Beyond Zebra” listed two “used” books, with prices of $169 and $768. “Scrambled Eggs Super” listed one copy for $900. “The Cat’s Quizzer” listed two books, each over $1,000.
President Joe Biden on Monday avoided mentioning Dr. Seuss in his presidential proclamation for Read Across America Day, which is celebrated on the author’s birthday. Meanwhile, a school district in Virginia ordered its teachers to stop the national reading day with Seuss because of “strong racial undertones” in some of his books.
“Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate ‘Read Across America Day’ in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard,” said a Feb. 26 announcement by Loudoun County Public Schools, one of the nation’s most affluent school districts. “As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing radical undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss.”