The famous children’s books written by Dr. Seuss have recently gained a lot of traction on social media due to the Seuss estate’s decision to discontinue six books on account of racist imagery.
Theodore Geisel, who writes under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, is a children’s books author that was born in 1904 and passed away in Sept. 1991, his books are hallmarked for their rhymes.
According to the New York Times, Dr. Seuss’s writing history began in the summer of 1936 when he randomly wrote down rhymes while on a ship from Europe to New York. He wrote “And this is a story that no one can beat. I saw it all happen on Mulberry Street,” which eventually morphed into “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” He went on to publish 60 more books, some of which have sold 700 million copies worldwide.
Since his death in 1991, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has been managing his content to protect his legacy. On March 2nd, also Dr. Seuss’ birthday, they released a statement explaining that they were discontinuing the following titles: “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.”
Dr. Seuss is loved for his works, especially for teaching kids about environmentalism through simple stories like the Lorax. However, in the last couple of years, people have been discussing how people of color are portrayed in his books and in some advertising and propaganda illustrations he previously made.
Dr.Seuss Enterprises reviewed these books with a panel of experts and educators and published the following statement to explain their decision: “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Entreprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
The books that were in question contained “racist, stereotypical imagery,” for example, “If I Ran the Zoo” has a drawing of two bare-footed African men that are wearing grass skirts and their hair is tied above their heads.
Public backlash built up as the news spread quickly on social media and news sites and many were not hesitant to express their opinion on the topic. People began buying the books solely to express their support for the literature, so on Thursday morning, March 4th, the Dr. Seuss books hit Amazon’s print best-seller list, reaching nine out of the site’s top 10 best sellers.
Many members of Congress or affiliated officials have also expressed their opinion, some calling the Dr. Seuss books another victim of the infamous “cancel culture.” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy complained about the decision and later posted a video on YouTube of him reading a book by Dr. Seuss titled “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Dr. Seuss’ granddaughter, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, has spoken out against the estate’s decisions saying, “There wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body.’’
Nevertheless, people are sad to see these popular classics be discontinued as they provided a sense of familiarity and connected them to their childhood.