The sales of six Dr. Seuss books will cease due to racist and insensitive imagery, according to the business that preserves and protects the author's legacy. Dr. Seuss Enterprises issued a statement on Tuesday, the author’s birthday, explaining that the books in question "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong." The company said it made the decision to stop publishing the books as part of its effort to preserve the late author's legacy.
The six books in question include 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. According to The Hill, If I Ran a Zoo depicts its narrator using "helpers who all wear their eyes as a slant" from "countries no one can spell" as servants. According to the company, which issued a statement to the Associated Press, the decision to cease publication of the books was made last year after consulting educators and reviewing its catalog.
"Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process," the company said. "We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles."
In recent years, a number of Dr. Seuss' works have come under criticism. A study published in the journal "Research on Diversity in Youth Literature" in 2019 examined 50 books by the author and found that 43 out of the 45 characters of color have "characteristics aligning with the definition of Orientalism," or the stereotypical, offensive portrayal of Asia. The study noted that the two "African" characters both have anti-Black characteristics. In The Cat's Quizzer, one of the books that will no longer be published, "the Japanese character is referred to as 'a Japanese,' has a bright yellow face, and is standing on what appears to be Mt. Fuji," the study noted, according to CNN.
As a result of this criticism, a number of school districts across the country have moved away from Dr. Seuss' literature. Just days before Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ announcement, Loudoun County, Virginia announced it would no longer feature the author's works on Read Across America Day, which was founded by The National Education Association in 1998 and was deliberately aligned with the author’s birthday. In a statement, the Loudoun County Public Schools said it wants "to encourage our young readers to read all types of books that are inclusive and diverse and reflective of our student community."