‘These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong’: Six Dr. Seuss titles discontinued

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Theodor Seuss Geisel at his drafting table in his home office, La Jolla, California, April 25, 1957. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images.)
Theodor Seuss Geisel at his drafting table in his home office, La Jolla, California, April 25, 1957. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images.)
  • Dr. Seuss Enterprises is withdrawing six books from its catalogue due to racist imagery. 
  • Among the titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937) and If I Ran the Zoo (1950).
  • The Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ says it is dedicated to ensuring its catalogue represents and supports all communities and families. 


As a result of racist imagery, six books of Dr. Seuss’s children's books are being recalled. The announcement was made by the Dr. Seuss Enterprise on the author’s birthday; 2 March 2021. 

Among the six that will no longer be published or sold are popular titles And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937) and If I Ran the Zoo (1950). In the former title published in 1937, an Asian person is identified by stereotypically depicting them in a conical straw hat while they eat with chopsticks. In If I Ran the Zoo, African characters wear grass skirts. 

Speaking to the Associated Press, the Dr. Seuss Enterprises said “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

In recent years, the public has grown acutely aware of the author’s offensive imagery. In 2015 a Los Angeles auction house put a 1929 drawing by him on sale. The drawing featured racist images of Black people and a racial slur. Then in 2017, a librarian at a school in Massachusetts, where the author is from, refused a gift of several Dr. Seuss books from Melania Trump. 

In an open letter explaining her decline, the librarian said titles like And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo were “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes.” Later in 2017, a mural based on the character from And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street made authors like Mo Willems and Lisa Yee boycotted a festival hosted at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. The mural was later removed. 

However these and other incidents were not the first time these titles are being reviewed. In 1978, Dr. Seuss agreed to make some revisions to And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. These changes include replacing the term “a Chinaman” with “a Chinese man” as well as removing the character’s pigtail and changing his yellow skin tone. 

The decision to withdraw these titles was based on the feedback that Dr. Seuss Enterprises took from its audience of teachers, academics and specialists in the field of children’s literature. They then worked with a panel of experts to screen the catalogue. 

The statement then went on to say that “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalogue represents and supports all communities and families”. 

Although lesser known, the other discontinued titles include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24