The Arne Nixon Center in the Henry Madden Library at California State University Fresno applauds Dr. Seuss Enterprises for ceasing publication of six titles from the Dr. Seuss back catalog due to their harmful and inaccurate portrayals of Africans, American Indians, and Asians. Children’s books act as both windows into society and as a mirror to reflect each of us. It is vital that we think critically about what children read and how it affects them.
Children’s literature, like our society, has a long history of racism, stereotyping, and harmful textual and visual representations of those who are BIPOC. Librarians, archivists, teachers and others who work with children or have materials for children are beginning the work of redressing racism, sexism, LGBTQIA+ phobia, and inaccurate cultural representations in our collections and learning materials.
We hope that other creators, publishers, and literary estates follow the lead of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, and we encourage Dr. Seuss Enterprises to continue reviewing the Dr. Seuss catalog for other harmful instances in text or illustrations.
The Arne Nixon Center will keep its archival copies of these titles for research purposes to increase greater understanding of how racism and inaccurate cultural representations in children’s literature have been created by those who grew up in a racist society and to study how these representations have contributed to our biases and prejudices today.
To learn more about the titles discussed, race and representation in Dr. Seuss books, and lists of positive diverse books, please see the links below.
-Suzan Alteri, librarian for the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.
Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination (Pre-publication version)
Information on Diverse Books: