Story at a glance

  • Author Theodor Seuss Geisel, known by the pen name Dr. Seuss, has written dozens of children’s books, some of which include racist depictions.
  • The business that preserves the author's legacy is pulling six books that "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
  • The author has a history of racist work, but his children’s books are only now being scrutinized.

On the occasion of Theodor Seuss Geisel's 117th birthday, the company in charge of preserving his legacy announced six Dr. Seuss books would no longer be published, acknowledging racist depictions of nonwhite characters.  


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"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," said Dr. Seuss Enterprises in a statement. "Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families."

With input from a panel of experts, including educators, Random House Children’s Books decided to cease publication and licensing of "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," "If I Ran the Zoo," "McElligot's Pool," "The Cat's Quizzer,” "On Beyond Zebra!" and "Scrambled Eggs Super!” These titles include some of the most blatantly racist depictions of Black, Indigenous and Asian peoples. 


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In recent years, the literary world has reexamined its promotion of Geisel’s books, which center white characters. Only 45 characters of color, roughly 2 percent of characters, appear in Dr. Seuss books, according to a recent analysis, all of which are men. Forty-three of these characters are depicted with stereotypical Asian characteristics often portrayed in subservient roles. The other two are Black, depicted as "monkeys" and dehumanized. 

"Before and during his career publishing children’s books, Dr. Seuss also published hundreds of racist political cartoons, comics, and advertisements for newspapers, magazines, companies, and the United States government. In spite of Dr. Seuss’ extensive body of explicitly racist published works dehumanizing and degrading Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and people from other marginalized groups (including Jewish people and Muslims), many differentiate and defend the author’s children’s books as ‘promoting tolerance,’ and even ‘anti-racist,’" noted researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens.


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Published on Mar 02, 2021