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Six Dr Seuss books to stop being published and sold due to racist imagery

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The business that preserves and protects Dr Seuss’ legacy has announced it will discontinue publishing six of the famous author’s books, which are read in schools around the world.

Dr Seuss Enterprises said on Wednesday morning (Australian time) that it will cease sales of six children’s titles because they contain racist and insensitive imagery.

The news comes on Dr Seuss’s birthday, which in the US marks the start of National Read Across America Day when schools celebrate reading to commemorate one of the country’s most well-known and loved authors, who died in 1991.

Copies of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo will stop publication because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong”.

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“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,” Dr Seuss Enterprises said.

The other books affected are McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr Seuss. Photo: AAP

The company said it held months of discussions before agreeing to cease both publication and sales of the books.

“Dr Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process. We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles,” it said.

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Books by Dr Seuss – who was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904 – have been translated into dozens of languages as well as in braille and are sold in more than 100 countries.

He remains popular, earning an estimated $US33 million before taxes in 2020, up from just $US9.5 million five years ago, the company said.

Forbes listed him No. 2 on its highest-paid dead celebrities of 2020, behind only the late pop star Michael Jackson.

“If I Ran the Zoo,” By Dr. Seuss are among the six books that will stop being sold. Photo: AAP

As adored as Dr Seuss is by millions around the world for the positive values in many of his works, including environmentalism and tolerance, there has been increasing criticism in recent years over the way blacks, Asians and others are drawn in some of his most beloved children’s books, as well as in his earlier advertising and propaganda illustrations.

The National Education Association, which founded Read Across America Day in 1998 and deliberately aligned it with Geisel’s birthday, has for several years deemphasised Seuss and encouraged a more diverse reading list for children.

In 2017, a school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, criticised a gift of 10 Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump, saying many of his works were “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”

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The Cat in the Hat,” one of Seuss’ most popular books, has received criticism, too, but will continue to be published for now.

Dr Seuss Enterprises, however, said it is “committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio.”

-with AAP

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