Mr. Geisel’s stories are loved by fans for their rhymes and fantastical characters but also for their positive values, like taking responsibility for the planet. But in recent years, critics have said some of his work was racist and presented harmful depictions of certain groups.
In “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” a character described as “a Chinaman” has lines for eyes, wears a pointed hat, and carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice. (Editions published in the 1970s changed the reference from “a Chinaman” to “a Chinese man.”) In “If I Ran the Zoo,” two characters from “the African island of Yerka” are depicted as shirtless, shoeless and resembling monkeys.
A school district in Virginia said over the weekend that it had advised schools to de-emphasize Dr. Seuss books on “Read Across America Day,” a national literacy program that takes place each year on March 2, the anniversary of Mr. Geisel’s birth.
“Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,” according to the statement by the district, Loudoun County Public Schools.
The decision to stop the publication of some Dr. Seuss books helps revive a debate over classic children’s titles that do not positively represent minority groups. In France, the latest in a series of beloved comic books, Lucky Luke, features a Black hero and a narrative that reimagines the role of the cowboy, drawing criticism that the book was caving to an American-inspired obsession with race.