Mark Pratt, Associated Press, March 2, 2021
Six Dr. Seuss books — including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo” — will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday.
“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 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’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” it said.
The other books affected are “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”
The decision to cease publication and sales of the books was made last year after months of discussion, the company, which was founded by Seuss’ family, told AP.
In “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” an Asian person is portrayed wearing a conical hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl. “If I Ran the Zoo” includes a drawing of two bare-footed African men wearing what appear to be grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads.
Books by Dr. Seuss — born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 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 before taxes in 2020, up from just $9.5 million five years ago, the company said. Forbes listed him No. 2 on its highest-paid dead celebrities of 2020, behind only the late pop star Michael Jackson. Within hours of Tuesday’s announcement, Dr. Seuss books filled more than half of the top 20 slots on Amazon.com’s bestseller list. “Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo” were on the list, along with “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”, “Green Eggs and Ham” and others still being published.
Dr. Seuss is adored by millions around the world for the positive values in many of his works, including environmentalism and tolerance, but criticism has grown in recent years over the way Blacks, Asians and others are drawn in some of his most beloved children’s books, as well as in his earlier advertising and propaganda illustrations.
The National Education Association, which founded Read Across America Day in 1998 and deliberately aligned it with Geisel’s birthday, has for several years deemphasized Seuss and encouraged a more diverse reading list for children.
School districts across the country have also moved away from Dr. Seuss, prompting Loudoun County, Virginia, schools just outside Washington, D.C., to douse rumors last month that they were banning the books entirely.
“The Cat in the Hat,” one of Seuss’ most popular books, has received criticism, too, but will continue to be published for now.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, however, said it is “committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio.”