Should Dr. Seuss Books with Racially Stereotypical Imagery be Removed from the Shelves?


Syerra Watlington, Staff Writer

Dr. Seuss, a name familiar to many from his rhyme-schemed children’s books and their film adaptions, has come under fire recently after many people have expressed great disgust for racially stereotypical imagery in some of his books. These books include And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo which have already been removed from the shelves and forever unpublished, as decided by a series of enterprises. Other Dr. Seuss books with similar imagery like McElligot’s Pool, Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Egg Super!, and The Cat Quizzes are still actively being decided if they are to meet the same fate as Dr. Seuss’s seemingly lighthearted rhymes.

Some argue that the books should stay on the shelves to portray contrasts of today’s society and what we see as fit and inappropriate compared to the past. Within the books now shown to be controversial, Asians were drawn with stereotypical slanted and small eyes, one strand goatees and mustaches, bald heads, and some were even drawn with pointy hats and colored with yellow skin. In other books, places like Africa were shown as wastelands, and the people were drawn as cavemen with big noses, heavier than the other characters, no shirts, and rounded heads. People meant to be classified as Arabs and Indians were drawn with loose turbans and overweight bodies.

Even with all these stereotypes displayed in the books, there’s still heavy debate on whether any of them should be permanently removed from the shelves because, racist imagery or not, many children and adults still have fond memories with the books. I and many others read these tales at a very young age, mainly when we were just figuring out how to read, so they had an impact on my childhood. However, I am African American. Things like the shows and books we read as children have a longer lasting affect than many like to consider. I still can remember specific parts of the children shows I watched as a kid, the theme songs popping into my head at times. I still visibly recall the very first book I cried over and the context. I can still recite parts of the Dr. Suess book Oh the Places You’ll Go! This indicates that young children who consume these books with racially stereotypical imagery may actually see other races in this way. Children are influenced by their environment, the way people talk, and the things they think, especially about other people. I say that we need to keep the books that have been removed gone and the books with these racist drawings should be taken off the shelves as well.

The media we consume as kids stays with us for years in the future. It effects the way we think about certain topics and the way we think about others. Keeping these blatantly racist books on the shelves and displayed to young children only has a harmful outcome. There are plenty of other Dr. Seuss books that are just as good for young children but do not hold harmful stereotypes. Though I wish enterprises and the government focused on more important issues than harmful images in children’s books, I feel as if they did make the right decision in this matter.


Photo Credits: The Indian Express