Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Responding to Surprised Dr. Seuss Fans

When the news hit on March 2 that the organization that oversees Dr. Seuss' body of work was going to cease publishing six of his older titles based on racist content, it took many people (including a few library staffers) by surprise. Here is what Dr. Seuss Enterprises released:

Many people have been studying and writing and talking about the content of these particular books for a long time (see our March 2, 2021 blog post for a critical citation to give you more background on this issue). 

For many, this was an important day and piece of news. Understanding the larger context of these problematic titles, there was a sense of "know better, do better" or "it's about time." 

Many library staffers are fielding questions and concerns from patrons. Is this censorship? Is it "cancel culture"? Why is this happening to books we love so much?

Early Literacy Librarian Kathryn Salo developed a helpful infographic to support you in answering these questions. The following graphic is used with her permission.

Here are links to the resources Katie lists at the bottom:

"The Cat is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss's Children's Books" by Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens. Research on Diversity in Youth Literature. Vol 1, Iss 2. 2019.

"The Problem With Picture Book Monkeys: Racist imagery associating simians with Black people has a long history" by Edith Campbell. School Library Journal, December 4, 2019.

Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature and the Need for Diverse Books by Philip Nel. Oxford University Press. 2017.

Anti-Racism and Dr. Seuss YSS posts

For more information on anti-racism and activism resources, please see these additional YSS posts:


Youth Services at Pewaukee said...

Great timing, we just had a patron come in and want to know if we were getting rid of all of his books.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful (& beautiful ;) ) information! Very helpful!