Episodes
Video Extras
ArticlesLinks
More
Back

Six Dr Seuss Books Cease Publication Over Racist Images

Six children's books written by Dr Seuss decades ago have been pulled from publication because they contain racist and insensitive imagery, the company formed to preserve the author's legacy says.

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 are among more than 60 books written by Dr Seuss, the pen name of American writer and illustrator Theodor Geisel, who died in 1991.

Several of the titles have jumped onto Amazon's best-selling books ranking since Monday's annoucement they would be discontinued. As of Tuesday afternoon, 13 of the top 20 best-selling books listed on Amazon in the US were by Dr Seuss.

"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," DrSeuss Enterprises said in a statement explaining its decision.

The books, originally published between 1937 and 1976, contain numerous caricatures of Asian and black people that incorporate stereotypes criticised as racist.

Dr Seuss Enterprises chose to make the announcement on March 2, the anniversary of Geisel's birth in 1904.

Theodor Seuss Geisel working on a drawing of a grinch. Image: Getty.

In 1998, the National Education Association designated his birthday as Read Across America Day, an annual event aimed at encouraging children and teens to read.

The most famous Dr Seuss titles - The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham - were not on the list of books that will be yanked.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! often tops the New York Times bestseller list during graduation season and also was not on the list of scrapped books.

The controversy over Dr Seuss imagery has simmered for years. In 2017, then-first lady Melania Trump offered a donation of 10 Dr Seuss books to a Cambridge, Massachusetts school.

Its librarian turned down the gift, saying images criticised as "racist propaganda and harmful stereotypes" filled their pages.

Publishers of the books included Random House and Vanguard Press.

Dr Seuss Enterprises said it worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review its catalog and made the decision last year to end publication and licensing. The company said the move was a first step in efforts to promote inclusion for all children.

Dr. Seuss' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Image: Getty.

"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 company said.

At a White House briefing on Tuesday, reporters asked why President Joe Biden's proclamation about this year's National Read Across America Day made no mention of Dr Seuss.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said it was important to ensure all children saw themselves represented and celebrated in the books they read.

Philip Nel, a children's literature scholar, likened the publication halt to the recall of an outdated, dangerous product.

"In the 1950s, cars did not have seat belts. Now, we recognise that as dangerous - so, cars have seat belts. In the 1950s, lots of books recycled racist caricature," Nel said.

He said the author, who also wrote The Sneetches, a parable about discrimination and racial intolerance, wasn't conscious of how racism influenced his visual imagination.

AAP.