Six Dr Seuss books will no longer be published due to racist and insensitive imagery. Dr Seuss Enterprises said in a statement on Tuesday 2 March that six Dr Seuss books “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong”.
“Today, on Dr Seuss’s Birthday, Dr Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship”.
Dr Seuss’ racist books: What you need to know
Which Dr Seuss books will cease publication?
Dr Seuss Enterprises said the company is “committed to action”, and have decided to cease the publication of the following books, as part of the company’s commitment to its readers:
- And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street
- If I Ran the Zoo
- McElligot’s Pool
- On Beyond Zebra!
- Scrambled Eggs Super!
- The Cat’s Quizzer
Dr Seuss is mostly known for his children’s books. A little known fact is that before and during his career, he also published racist political cartoons, comics, and advertisements for newspapers, magazines, companies, and the US government.
Why will these books be pulled?
The company said it worked with a panel of experts, “including educators, reviewed our catalogue of titles”, and explained that its “broader plan [is] to ensure Dr Seuss Enterprises’ catalogue represents and supports all communities and families”.
While social media is a hot mess at the moment over this particular topic, it’s easy enough for grown adults to do their own research before shrieking on Twitter about cancel culture and what not.
A quick Google search for “Dr Seuss racism” will alert you to a new study on St Catherine’s University website, published by Research on Diversity in Youth Literature (RDYL).
The study, titled “The Cat is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr Seuss’s Children’s Books”, can be viewed here.
‘White supremacy in children’s books’
Researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens studied more than 50 books and more than 2 200 characters written by Dr Seuss (Theodor Geisel) published over a period of 70 years. Why?
“Our study sought to evaluate the claims that his children’s books are anti-racist, and was shaped by the research question: How and to what extent are non-White characters depicted in Dr Seuss’ children’s books?”
Ishizuka and Stephens also looked at how and to what extent “non-white characters are depicted in Dr Seuss’ children’s books”. The 51-page study is comprehension, however, the following paragraph on page 15 stood out.
“Notably, every character of colour is male. Males of colour are only presented in subservient, exotified, or dehumanised roles. This also remains true in their relation to White characters. Most startling is the complete invisibility and absence of women and girls of colour across Seuss’ entire children’s book collection.”
RDYL is a peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal hosted by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program and University Library. It is published twice a year.