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Dr Seuss: Six books to cease publication over ‘hurtful and wrong’ racist imagery

Written by on 3 March 2021

Six Dr Seuss books will no longer be published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves the author’s legacy has said.

The six books are 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.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr Seuss Enterprises told the Associated Press in a statement that coincided with the late American author and illustrator’s birthday.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr Seuss Enterprises’ catalogue represents and supports all communities and families.”

Dr Seuss. File pic via AP Image: The author’s books made $33 million (£23 million) last year. File pic via AP

The decision to cease publication and sales of the books was made last year after months of discussion, the company added.

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

Books by Dr Seuss – who was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Massachusetts on 2 March 1904 – have been translated into dozens of languages as well as in braille and are sold in more than 100 countries. He died in 1991.

He remains popular, earning an estimated $33 million (£23 million) before taxes in 2020, the company said. Forbes listed him second on its highest-paid dead celebrities of 2020, behind Michael Jackson.

Dr Seuss is adored by millions around the world for the positive values in many of his works, including environmentalism and tolerance, but there has been increasing criticism in recent years over the way minorities are drawn in some of his most beloved children’s books, as well as in his earlier advertising and propaganda illustrations.

In this Feb. 27, 1986, file photo, Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, talks to some children with his book Image: The author greets children at a New York book shop in 1986. Pic: AP

However, the National Education Association, which founded Read Across America Day in 1998, has for several years de-emphasised Dr Seuss and encouraged a more diverse reading list for children in the States.

School districts across the country have also moved away from Dr Seuss.

In 2017, a school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, criticised a gift of 10 Dr Seuss books from former first lady Melania Trump, saying many of his works were “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes”.

In 2018, a Dr Seuss museum in his hometown of Springfield removed a mural that included an Asian stereotype.

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Boris Johnson tells schoolchildren of his love for The Cat In The Hat Comes Back, the sequel to Dr Seuss’s original story.

The Cat In The Hat, one of Dr Seuss’s most popular books, has also received criticism but will continue to be published for now.

Dr Seuss Enterprises said it was “committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio”.

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