Dr. Seuss may no longer be celebrated by certain segments of society, but his books have rocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller lists.
Books by the man who was born Theodor Seuss Geisel filled the Top 5 slots on Amazon’s bestseller list Thursday morning and also held nine of the Top 10 positions – even though they were first published more than 50 years ago.
On Wednesday, 16 of the Top 20 and 35 of the Top 50 bestselling books on Amazon were books within the Seuss realm.
The bestselling book on Amazon Thursday was The Cat in the Hat, followed by One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh the Places You’ll Go! and Fox in Socks.
Amazon’s bestseller list is updated hourly and includes every type of book: fiction, nonfiction, children’s books and adult books.
“I’d be surprised if anything like this has ever happened before,” author Eric Nelson tweeted Wednesday. He is the author of a Seuss parody for adults, Oh, the Meetings You’ll Go To!
Thirty-three of the top 50 books on Amazon are Dr. Seuss right now. I’d be surprised if anything like this has ever happened before.— Eric Nelson (@literaryeric) March 3, 2021
The National Education Association this year chose not to include Seuss books as part of Read Across America Day, which is celebrated annually on Seuss’ birthday, March 2. The Biden administration’s proclamation on Read Across America Day did not mention Seuss, a departure from proclamations issued by Presidents Obama and Trump.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday defended the Biden proclamation, saying Read Across America Day is a “chance to celebrate diverse authors whose work and lived experience reflect the diversity of our country.”
A Virginia school district received nationwide attention when it told its teachers not to connect Read Across America Day with Seuss.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises this week said it would no longer publish six Seuss books that “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Those 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.
On Thursday, the asking price on Amazon for a used copy of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was $300. The price of a used copy of If I Ran the Zoo was $799.
Robby Soave, senior editor of Reason, criticized the nationwide push to cancel Seuss.
“It's true that Dr. Seuss is a more complicated figure than he first appears. Some of his oldest books do contain problematic illustrations of black and Asian characters. He harbored anti-Japanese sentiments during World War II and produced several cartoons that could be seen as defending U.S. internment camps,” Soave wrote at Reason.com. “But like many people, Dr. Seuss changed his views over time, and he also published cartoons that were clearly anti-racist.
“Indeed, Dr. Seuss's most famous books tend to promote liberal and anti-authoritarian messages. The best-known example is probably The Lorax, a save-the-environment parable, but it's hardly the only one. The Butter Battle Book is a Cold War satire, and the eponymous villain of Yertle the Turtle is meant to echo the rise and fall of Adolph Hitler.”
Seuss books, Soave wrote, are “popular with children in large part because of the crazy stories and funny pictures.”
“Learning to read was very boring until The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham came along in the 1950s,” Soave wrote. “Problematizing everything that's different, weird, or uncomfortable won't get us any place worth exclaiming over.”
Writer Sam Thielman suggested that the six canceled books be re-released, with the troubling content edited.
“FWIW Richard Scarry actually rewrote and redrew some of his books so as not to reinforce stereotypes,” Thielman tweeted. “... I don’t know that I’m on team Aggressive Seuss Corporation Brand Management but let’s not pretend we’re dealing with stone tablets engraved by God here.”
Virginia School District Declines to Celebrate Read Across America Day, Says Dr. Seuss Books Contain 'Racial Undertones'
6 Dr. Seuss Books Cancelled by Publisher for Having Racist Undertones
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mario Tama/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.