Dr. Seuss penned some of the best-selling children’s books of all time, but the author made headlines this week for several that contain offensive images. Six outdated Dr. Seuss books are going out of print due to their offensive imagery.
To break down the news
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that oversees Theodor Seuss Geisel’s works (pen name Dr. Seuss), released a statement on his birthday on March 2 announcing 2020 was the last year the following books would be published: 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.
Many experts, including educators, have long spoken out against hurtful and racist images found in these books.
For example, in And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street there is an illustration of an Asian person wearing a conical hat while holding chopsticks and a bowl. In If I Ran the Zoo there are more offensive images of Asian stereotypes, as well as exaggerated African blackface characters.
Through the years, scholars have additionally pointed to racism in Dr. Seuss’s wartime political cartoons, as well as anti-Semitic and Islamophobic references in his comics and advertisements.
Should Parents Keep or Toss These Dr. Seuss Books?
Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ proactive decision to discontinue publishing and licensing the six books above shows their commitment to learning and evolving. Moms and experts agree this can be a teaching moment.
- Children can discuss and comprehend more than we think, and they are also watching how their parents process current events.
- Starting conversations about race can be difficult, but a recent expert guide was created to help parents approach the topic in an empowering way.
- Parents can also opt for other children’s books as there are tons of great ones to choose from.
- Rowe says Dr. Seuss’s books haven’t been included in her instructional practices for years. Choose ones with diversity where children will be able to see themselves.
For parents who’d rather explore children’s books from other authors without losing the whimsy and playful nature of Dr. Seuss’s books, Huang recommends Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt, Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.
Go for Inclusive Dr. Seuss Books
If you want to keep reading Dr. Seuss to your little ones, choose ones that are more inclusive.
Huang has read many other Dr. Seuss books to her children, including The Foot Book, Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book, There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, Dr. Seuss’s ABC, and Green Eggs and Ham. Though Huang agrees on the images in the six discontinued books are offensive and created when images like those were normalized. But she still believes Dr. Seuss was a genius as a children’s writer.
“It teaches children that all decisions—big and small—have consequences. Each of us has a global, social, and environmental responsibility to each other and humanity.”