Dr. Seuss Cancelled?

Several of the popular children’s author’s books recently came under fire for containing racist images and harmful stereotypes.

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photo courtesy of Christopher Dolan for The Times-Tribune

Six of Dr. Seuss’s books will no longer be published.

Chelsea Boyer, Social Media Editor

“One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish…”

You have probably heard this phrase before and recognized it immediately. The beloved Dr. Seuss books were a huge part of our childhood and were featured in almost all of our library trips and reading challenges. Who could have imagined that the books we once loved could possibly be cancelled?

Dr. Seuss books have recently been exposed and called out for their racism and hurtful images. The six books that will no longer be published 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.

Dr. Seuss’s real name was Theodor Geisel. He started his career by simply scribbling lines down that eventually morphed into wildly popular children books. His first book was And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The story revolves around a boy who goes around and witnesses freakish events. The book also includes a racist illustration of an Asian man with slanted lines for eyes and a xenophobic attitude. The man is also pictured with a bowl of rice and a conical hat with the caption, “a Chinese man who eats with sticks.”

The lack of diversity in Dr. Seuss books doesn’t help matters. Of 2,240 human characters in all of his books, only 2 percent are characters of color.

Many of us grew up reading these books, unaware of the offensive and racist images. The question now is if halting the books’ publication is an instance “cancel culture” or a justifiable and necessary decision?

I hope this revelation causes people to think deeply on whether these books should be shared with children.”

I believe the decision is correct. No one is being asked to stop reading the books, and no libraries are being forced to remove them — the publication of the six books is merely being discontinued. The move holds Dr. Seuss accountable and prevents more children from seeing these hurtful, racist images. The art and images in these early books contain common racial stereotypes and attitudes from the 1940’s and 50’s that should not be perpetuated.

A major argument against the books’ recent discontinuation is that cancel culture has gone too far. After all, many of the characters in Dr. Seuss books are not realistically portrayed. Since the majority of characters within the books do not typically look “normal,” some people believe the pictures are being over-analyzed.

However, there is never a reason to excuse outright racist images, regardless of how animated the book is. Not to mention, there are so many other children’s books that celebrate and promote diversity, so why should we try to make exceptions for harmful images at all?

Schools and libraries now face the decision of whether or not to keep Dr. Seuss books on their shelves. I hope this revelation causes people to think deeply on whether these books should be shared with children. This isn’t just cancel culture– it’s racism being brought to light.

I am not saying that the books need to be banned, but the situation needs to open us up to inviting more diverse books to our collections.