PUBLICATION OF SIX DR SEUSS BOOKS STOPPED AFTER BIDEN DROPPED AUTHOR FROM READ ACROSS AMERICA DAY
The childhood author, Dr Seuss' reputation, has been called into question in recent years because of racist imagery in his children's books.
Dr Seuss authored more than just children books. He also produced political cartoons and advertisements that contain controversial images.
An article published in 2019, titled The Cat Is Out Of The Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr Seuss's Children's Books, stated that the author had published "hundreds" of racist political cartoons, comics and advertisements.
A collection dedicated to Dr Seuss's art also acknowledges that some of his early drawings "were hurtful then and are still hurtful today".
Recently, it was decided that six of the author's books will no longer be published due to racist and insensitive imagery.
The six books are; 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.
The decision to stop publication of the six books was announced the day after President Biden broke tradition and left Dr Seuss out of the 2021 Read Across America Day proclamation.
The White House did not provide an explanation as to why Dr Seuss was left out of this year's proclamation event.
The Read Across America Day traditionally featured Dr Seuss books for over 20 years. In Obama's 2014 proclamation, he stated, "[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 also stated that "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 said that Dr Seuss was "one of America's revered wordsmiths. He used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear".
Former first lady Melania Trump also celebrated Read Across America Day in 2017 by reading Dr Seuss books to hospitalized children. At the time, Melania stated that "Dr. Seuss has brought so much joy, laughter and enchantment into children's lives all around the globe for generations. Through his captivating rhymes, Dr Seuss has delighted and inspired children while teaching them to read, to dream, and to care".
Trump himself also 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 in any direction you choose".
Dr Seuss Enterprises, the company that preserves and protects the author's legacy, made the announcement on Tuesday, explaining the decision to stop the publication of the six books. The company explained that "These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong. 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 also added that the decision to cease publication was already made last year after several months of discussion.
"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."
Random House Children Books, Dr Seuss' publisher, also issued a brief statement on the day of the announcement. They stated, "We respect the decision of Dr Seuss Enterprises and the work of the panel that reviewed this content last year, and their recommendation".
Dr Seuss is adored by millions around the world for the positive values in many of his works. But, his books have also been facing increasing criticism in recent years over the way blacks, Asians and others are drawn in some of his most beloved children's books.
The National Education Association, the founders of Read Across America Day in 1998, de-emphasized Seuss for several years and encouraged a more diverse reading list for children.
Many school districts across the country have also moved away from Dr Seuss, stating that they are banning the books entirely. The school district said in a statement that "Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss".
Dr Seuss Enterprises did add that it is still "committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio".