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Dr Seuss estate scraps six books over racist and insensitive images

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Dr Seuss children's books are displayed at the North Pocono Public Library in Moscow, Pennsylvania, yesterday - they are among six books that will no longer be published because of racist and insensitive imagery. Photo: Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP

Dr Seuss children's books are displayed at the North Pocono Public Library in Moscow, Pennsylvania, yesterday - they are among six books that will no longer be published because of racist and insensitive imagery. Photo: Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP

Dr Seuss children's books are displayed at the North Pocono Public Library in Moscow, Pennsylvania, yesterday - they are among six books that will no longer be published because of racist and insensitive imagery. Photo: Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP

Six Dr Seuss books containing racist and insensitive imagery will no longer be published, the classic children’s author’s estate has announced.

Dr Seuss Enterprises said it decided to axe the books, including The Cat’s Quizzer and If I Ran the Zoo, because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong”.

“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,” a statement said.

Other books set to be archived are And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super and McElligot’s Pool.

If I Ran the Zoo includes an illustration of “two men from Africa” carrying animals and wearing grass skirts.

The final decision to cancel the books was made last year but was announced yesterday on what would have been author Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. “Dr Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process,” the statement added.

Books by Dr Seuss have been sold in more than 100 countries and translated into dozens of languages.

Dr Seuss, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, remains extremely popular.

The author earned an estimated $33m before taxes in 2020, second only to the pop star Michael Jackson on Forbes’s list of the highest paid dead celebrities.

Despite his enduring popularity, there has been growing criticism over the way Asians, black people and others are drawn in the books.

Joe Biden, the US president, did not mention Dr Seuss during his Read Across America Day, breaking a decade-long tradition. Barack Obama and Donald Trump both noted his contributions in their yearly proclamations.

Melania Trump, the former first lady, came under fire in 2017 after donating a gift of 10 of the books to a school library in Massachusetts. The school librarian argued that Dr Seuss’s books were “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes”.

School districts across the US have also begun moving away from the books. In one district, near Washington DC, teachers denied rumours last month that they were banning the books entirely.

One of Dr Seuss’s most ­popular books, The Cat in the Hat, has also been criticised but will stay in print.

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