News and Commentary

Six Dr. Seuss Books Yanked Over Racist And Insensitive Imagery

"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
American author and illustrator Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904 - 1991) sits at his drafting table in his home office with a copy of his book, 'The Cat in the Hat', La Jolla, California, April 25, 1957. (Photo by
Gene Lester/Getty Images

The company that publishes Dr. Seuss books will 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 just happens to be the 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.

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. The move was a far cry from his former boss, Barack Obama.

In the former president’s 2014 proclamation, he said Dr. Seuss’ stories “challenge dictators and discrimination. They call us to open our minds, to take responsibility for ourselves and our planet.”

In 2015, Obama said: “The works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to us as Dr. Seuss, have sparked a love for reading in generations of students. His whimsical wordplay and curious characters inspire children to dream big and remind readers of all ages that ‘a person’s a person no matter how small.”

And in 2016, Obama said Seuss was “one of America’s revered wordsmiths” who “used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear.”

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.”

The Seuss company defended the decision to cease publication of six of his books.

“Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process,” the company told the AP. “We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles.”

Related: Biden Won’t Mention Dr. Seuss In ‘Read Across America Day’ Proclamation

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