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
'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 told AP.
On Monday, President Biden omitted Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day - held annually on the children's author's birthday on March 2.
Biden broke presidential tradseition when he left out any mention of Dr. Seuss.
Both former President Barack Obama and former President Donald Trump both recognized Dr. Seuss' contributions several times in their proclamations each year.
Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodor Geisel, had been the face of the annual Read Across America day for more than 20 years.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator's legacy, announced on his birthday that it would cease publication of several children's titles including 'And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street' and 'If I Ran the Zoo,' because of insensitive and racist imagery.
President Joe Biden did not mention Dr. Seuss during his proclamation for Read Across America day bucking a more than 20 year trend
A mural that features Theodor Seuss Geisel, left, also known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, covers part of a wall near an entrance at The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, in Springfield
Explaining the decision to stop the publication of the books, the company said: '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.'
Racist drawings and shocking cartoons: Why Dr. Seuss's legacy is in question
Dr. Seuss's reputation has been called into question in recent years because of racist imagery in his children's books, including stereotyped cartoons of Chinese and Japanese people that he drew in the 1930s and 1940s.
One such illustration which has caused controversy appeared in the 1937 work And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, which includes a drawing of a 'Chinaman who eats with sticks' - a caricatured picture of an Asian man with slits for eyes carrying a bowl of rice for no apparent reason.
Drawings in 1950's If I Ran The Zoo have also shocked modern readers, including African characters resembling monkeys, and an Arab chieftain on a camel with a caption suggesting he too should be in a zoo.
A so-called 'Chinaman who eats with sticks' in a 1937 work by Dr. Seuss
As well as children's books, Dr. Seuss produced political cartoons and advertisements which contain many images horrifying to modern eyes.
A 1929 drawing explicitly showed black people for sale to whites and adapted a racially charged phrase to say: 'Take home a high-grade [N-word] for your woodpile'.
During World War II he drew offensive cartoons of Japanese people, including one showing them queuing up for supplies of TNT and suggesting they were waiting for the 'signal from home'.
This 1929 cartoon shows black people for sale and uses the N-word
A 2019 article called The Cat Is Out Of The Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss's Children's Books, said the author had published 'hundreds' of racist political cartoons, comics and advertisements.
A collection dedicated to Dr. Seuss's art acknowledges that some of his early drawings 'were hurtful then and are still hurtful today'.
However, it says that he later amended his works - for example changing 'Chinaman' to 'Chinese man' - and wrote about equality during the 1960s civil rights movements.
It also defends him by saying that his drawings reflected stereotypes which were widely held at the time.
Geisel himself is quoted as saying later in life that the cartoons were 'just the way things were 50 years ago'.
The fresh scrutiny of his works has seen the Mulberry Street illustration removed from a Dr. Seuss museum in 2018 - a decision which his great-nephew said was 'extreme'.
Last month a Virginia school district distanced itself from the author, saying his books would no longer be the 'emphasis' of Read Across America Day.
'Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,' it said.
And he has now gone missing from the White House celebrations too after Joe Biden broke with a tradition continued by both Barack Obama and Donald Trump to leave him out.
Books by Dr. Seuss - who was 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.
As adored as Dr. Seuss is by millions around the world for the positive values in many of his works, including environmentalism and tolerance, there has been increasing criticism 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.
'Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,' the school district said in a statement.
In 2017, a school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, criticized a gift of 10 Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump, saying many of his works were 'steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.'
In 2018, a Dr. Seuss museum in his hometown of Springfield removed a mural that included an Asian stereotype.
'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.'
Numerous other popular children´s series have been criticized in recent years for alleged racism.
In the 2007 book, 'Should We Burn Babar?,' the author and educator Herbert R. Kohl contended that the 'Babar the Elephant' books were celebrations of colonialism because of how the title character leaves the jungle and later returns to 'civilize' his fellow animals.
One of the books, 'Babar´s Travels,' was removed from the shelves of a British library in 2012 because of its alleged stereotypes of Africans. Critics also have faulted the 'Curious George' books for their premise of a white man bringing home a monkey from Africa.
And Laura Ingalls Wilder´s portrayals of Native Americans in her 'Little House On the Prairie' novels have been faulted so often that the American Library Association removed her name in 2018 from a lifetime achievement award it gives out each year.
On Sunday, Virginia's largest school district, Loudoun County Public Schools, reportedly removed Dr. Seuss from its Read Across America Day celebration, citing racial 'undertones' in his children's books.
In former President Barack Obama's 2014 proclamation for Read Across America Day, said: '[Dr Seuss'] tales challenge dictators and discrimination. They call us to open our minds, to take responsibility for ourselves and our planet.'
In 2015, Obama stated: 'The works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to us as Dr. Seuss, have sparked a love for reading in generations of students. His whimsical wordplay and curious characters inspire children to dream big and remind readers of all ages that 'a person's a person no matter how small.'
The following year, Obama's 2016 proclaimed Seuss as 'one of America's revered wordsmiths' who 'used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear.'
Former first lady Melania Trump celebrated Read Across America Day in 2017 by reading Dr. Seuss books to hospitalized children.
'Dr. Seuss has brought so much joy, laughter and enchantment into children's lives all around the globe for generations,' Melania said at the time.
American author and illustrator Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904 - 1991) sits at his drafting table in his home office with a copy of his book, 'The Cat in the Hat', La Jolla, California, April 25, 1957
'Through his captivating rhymes, Dr. Seuss has delighted and inspired children while teaching them to read, to dream, and to care.'
Trump, in his 2018 proclamation, urged Americans to 'always remember the still-vibrant words of Dr. Seuss: 'You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.'
Trump also referred to Dr. Seuss in his 2019 proclamation, but Biden's omission from his 2021 proclamation led to plenty of criticism online.
Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump have all mentioned Dr. Seuss in conjunction with Read Across America Day, which is designed to encourage school children to read more. Obama is pictured in April 2010
Former first lady Melania Trump celebrated Read Across America Day in 2017 by reading Dr. Seuss books to children in hospital