You won’t be able to read them in a store, or if you’re sprawled out on the floor. You won’t find them upon a bookstore shelf, not even if you asks a Christmas elf. That’s because Dr. Seuss Enterprises has announced that it will cease publication and licensing of six books due to racist imagery.
The news comes on what would have been Dr. Seuss’, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, 117th birthday. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which runs and manages the collected works of the late children’s author, said it had consulted with a panel of experts and educators last year before concluding that six classic Seuss tales would no longer be published.
The six books in question 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 riddle book The Cat’s Quizzer. Each one features racially stereotypical drawings which the Dr. Seuss website acknowledges “were hurtful then and are still hurtful today.”
In Mulberry Street, an Asian character referred to as a “Chinaman” is depicted in “traditional clothing” while running with chopsticks. Even worse, the character used to be colored yellow. The Asian stereotype reappears in If I Ran the Zoo, with a trio of characters carrying a caged animal on their heads. The same book depicts Africans as shirtless individuals with large features and grass skirts.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” said Dr. Seuss Enterprises in a statement (via Rolling Stone). “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.”
Earlier this week, the Loudon County, Virginia school district made news when it chose to drop Dr. Seuss’ books from its annual “Read Across America” event, citing “strong racial undertones.” The decision was heavily criticized by conservatives who said it was the latest example of “cancel culture” run amok. However, given today’s announcement by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the school district’s decision appears to have been prescient.