These books seem racist, and they simply won’t do. Would you want ’em to exist if they were hurtful to you?
Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published due to racist and insensitive imagery, the business behind his publishing catalogue said in a move that will affect such titles as If I Ran the Zoo and Scrambled Eggs Super!
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which manages his publishing catalogue, says it made the move to protect and preserve the author’s legacy.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the business said in a statement on Tuesday.
“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 books have not been banned, but the company will no longer publish new editions of them.
Dr. Seuss published nearly 60 books over his decades-long career, and many of them remain top sellers. They’ve been translated into dozens of languages and are sold in more than 100 countries around the world.
The list of affected books does not include any of his highly celebrated titles such as Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat or The Lorax. It does include his very first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, which was published in 1937.
The six affected titles are:
- And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937)
- McElligot’s Pool (1947)
- If I Ran the Zoo (1950)
- Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953)
- On Beyond Zebra! (1955)
- The Cat’s Quizzer (1976)
Dr. Seuss Enterprises says it conducted a review of his entire catalogue last year over several months. Teachers, academics and “specialists in the field” contributed to the review, the company said.
The changes come after years of scrutiny around Seuss’ works. Academics have highlighted a Chinese character in Mulberry Street as problematic, due to him being depicted with chopsticks and a bowl of rice. They’ve also pointed out that two African men in If I Ran the Zoo are shown wearing nothing but grass skirts.
Additionally, critics have called out potentially racist depictions in If I Ran the Circus and The Cat in the Hat, which were not included in the new list of mothballed books.
Dr. Seuss was the second-highest paid dead celebrity in 2020, according to Forbes, with an estimated US$33 million in earnings before taxes. Only Michael Jackson’s empire earned more.
He was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Mass., on March 2, 1904, and died in 1991.
Educators turned his birthday into National Read Across America Day in 1998, although the reading-focused day has since been broadened to include a wider range of authors.
— With files from The Associated Press