Dr. Seuss Enterprises made the decision to stop publishing six of the late author’s books due to racist imagery.
Dr. Seuss’s children’s books have recently faced criticism for depicting insensitive images. The business that preserves and protects his legacy told the Associated Press—on his birthday, no less—that 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 portray people in a way that is “hurtful and wrong.”
“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 statement reads. “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 catalog of titles.”
And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss contain illustrations that are derogatory toward the Asian community and African community, respectively. The former title shows an Asian person wearing a conical hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl. The latter includes a drawing of two bare-footed African men wearing what looks like grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads.
The books are written for children, so the notion that they perpetuate racism is especially harmful. However, there are plenty of wonderful children’s books that will entertain children and create a dialogue for parents to speak to their kids about racism. Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece Meena Harris wrote Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, which is about two Black girls trying to make a positive change in their communities.
Another option is The Day You Begin by Jaqueline Woodson, which shows how important it is to celebrate people’s differences and create space for diversity.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ decision to pull six of the author’s titles is a step toward eliminating books that disparage certain communities. There are plenty of other children’s book options to choose from that will help show kids how to embrace diversity instead of belittle it.