San Diego, CA – The company overseeing the legacy of illustrator and author Theodor “Sr. Seuss” Seuss Geisel has announced it has ceased publication and sales of six of his books due to their allegedly racist imagery.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises made the announcement on Tuesday in conjunction with the late author’s birthday and National Read Across America Day, FOX News reported.
Dr. Seuss has long been praised for his tolerance and environmentalism, but has recently become the focus of criticism with regards to some of the imagery in his books – particularly with regards to Asian and black people, the Associated Press reported.
The publisher said it will no longer publish or sell “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “The Cat’s Quizzer,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” and “McElligot’s Pool,” according to the Associated Press.
“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which was first published in 1937, was the story that essentially launched Dr. Seuss’ career in children’s literature, NPR reported.
One of the controversial illustrations contained in the story depicted a Chinese person wearing traditional Japanese-style shoes, carrying a bowl of rice and chopsticks, and has two lines for eyes, according to NPR.
An illustration contained in “If I Ran the Zoo” showed two African men wearing grass skirts without shoes or shirts, NPR reported.
The book also contains caricatures of Asian and Russian people.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in a statement to the Associated Press. “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 publisher said they made the decision to stop distribution and publication of the classic books last year following months of discussion, the Associated Press reported.
“Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises said. “We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles.”
Dr. Seuss books are sold in more than 100 countries around the globe and are available in dozens of languages, as well as braille, the Associated Press reported.
The author was born Mar. 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, and passed away in 1991.
Sales of his children’s books continue to be extremely profitable, grossing an estimated $33 million last year, according to the Associated Press.
The National Education Association has been deemphasizing his books for years, as have various school districts throughout the U.S., according to the Associated Press.
A Cambridge, Massachusetts school librarian blasted then-first lady Melania Trump in 2017 after she gave the school 10 Dr. Seuss books, complaining that much of the author’s stories were “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” the Associated Press reported.
A museum in Dr. Seuss’ hometown took down a mural in 2018 due to complaints about an alleged Asian stereotype contained in the image.
Last week, Loudon County Public Schools (LCPS) in Virginia released a statement denying allegations the district had banned Dr. Seuss books – calling the assertion a “rumor” – while still distancing itself from the author.
“Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,” the statement read. “Examples include anti-Japanese American political cartoons and cartoons depicting African Americans for sale captioned with offensive language.”
In the interest of the district’s “focus on equity and culturally responsive instruction,” schools within the district have been instructed for the past couple of years “not connect Read Across America Day exclusively with Dr. Seuss’ birthday,” the LCPS said.
“We continue to encourage our young readers to read all types of books that are inclusive, diverse and reflective of our student community, not simply celebrate Dr. Seuss,” the district continued. “Dr. Seuss books have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms, however, Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools.”