Our Take on Six Seuss Books

Hello Book lovers!

I’m sure you are aware of, and curious about, the recent news concerning Dr. Seuss and 6 of his books that Seuss Enterprises (the organization that holds the copyrights to his works) has decided to discontinue. Please know that Dr. Seuss has not been banned or canceled. It’s also helpful to remember that his books and his own racist and anti-Semitic attitudes have been a topic of discussion for a long time. This is not a brand new issue coming out of nowhere.

Because thoughtful, informed conversation serves us all, I offer these very interesting resources which explore the complexities of race as it relates to literature:

Regarding the six books no longer in publication I recommend the insights of Wisconsin's very own Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s Intellectual Freedom Services:  “Books with Racist Images,” and  “Cultural Inaccuracies in Books and Intellectual Freedom.”

The Cat in the Hat was not one of the titles designated by Seuss Enterprises at this time. However, the following article about books authored/illustrated by Dr. Seuss provided context, then and now, for examining racist imagery in books for children: The Cat is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books by Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens. Research on Diversity in Youth Literature. Vol 1, Iss 2. 2019. Another resource is the book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, by Philip Nel. Oxford University Press. 2017. It provides those who teach, create, edit, or agent children's books tools to recognize and discuss the subtleties of racial imagery and attitudes in books.

The Problem With Picture Book Monkeys: Racist imagery associating simians with Black people has a long history by Edith Campbell. School Library Journal, December 4, 2019.

Also, consider the blog post from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association.

There's lots to take in and consider! If you have questions, please contact me directly.

Sincerely,

Linda DeCramer - Youth Services Librarian

decramer@riponlibrary.org, or 920-748-6160