The company that owns the rights to Dr. Seuss books said Tuesday it will cease publication of six popular titles in its catalog that “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it would no longer publish 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 announcement came amidst a nationwide debate over Dr. Seuss books, although the company said the decision was made last year.
Books by Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel, have traditionally been tied to Read Across America Day, which is celebrated annually on his birthday, March 2.
Although proclamations by Presidents Obama and Trump celebrated Seuss, the proclamation released this week by President Biden did not mention him.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it had worked “with a panel of experts, including educators” and “reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing.”
“Today, on Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship,” the company said in a statement.
The six books in question “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the company said.
“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,” the statement said.
President Obama celebrated Seuss in proclamations on Read Across America Day. For example, a 2016 proclamation said Seuss “used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear.” A Trump proclamation in 2019 quoted Seuss as saying: “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
The Biden proclamation, though, does not mention Seuss. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday defended the proclamation, saying Read Across America Day is a “chance to celebrate diverse authors whose work and lived experience reflect the diversity of our country.” She also said the proclamation was written by the Department of Education.
The action by Dr. Seuss Enterprises wasn’t popular on social media. Some defenders of Dr. Seuss said his book about the Sneetches remains one of the best books opposing racism in publication. It was not canceled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
“You don’t have to take any direction from people who believe boys can be girls, babies in the womb are clumps of cells, that promiscuity is empowerment, and that 2 + 2 can sometimes equal 5. Keep reading Dr. Seuss,” author and commentator Allie Beth Stuckey tweeted.
Erielle Davidson, an analyst with the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, contrasted a popular vulgar song by Cardi B. with Dr. Seuss books. Society, she tweeted, seems to be saying Cardi B’s song “is totally fine, but Dr. Seuss must be cancelled.”
“What a broken and morally depraved culture we live in,” she tweeted. “Which material would you rather your kids be exposed to?”
Virginia School District Declines to Celebrate Read Across America Day, Says Dr. Seuss Books Contain 'Racial Undertones'
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Joe Raedle/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.