Many of us grew up reading Dr. Seuss books, whether it’d be the iconic Green Eggs and Ham or Go Dog Go or even the classic, The Cat In the Hat. Recently though, Dr. Seuss Enterprises made a decision to no longer publish six books since they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Reading Rainbow’s own LeVar Burton, who was also part of many childhoods, has spoken out about the publication’s decision.
Actually, I think that, in the general sense, once you know better, it is incumbent upon you to do better, and that's exactly what Seuss Enterprises is doing here. They are being a responsible steward of the brand and they looked at these six titles and determined that in the light of today, they really don't fit with the values that we've all come to know Dr Seuss for. Look, all of our heroes are human; they are all flawed. It's one of the things I learned from Gene Roddenberry, one of my storytelling mentors. Gene was a guy who had this great vision, but he also wanted all the women in short skirts, so our heroes are flawed.
LeVar Burton went on to say that the sooner we make peace and come to terms with the fact that this is part of the fabric of America, only then are we prepared to do anything about it, to make lasting system change. Burton then said that parents can ensure their children have access to diverse books and the world needs to be reflected in the literature kids absorb, as kids don’t naturally look at one another as particularly different. Burton said it’s the adults in the room that need anti-racist training.
In a statement, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it made the decision after consulting educators and reviewing the catalog, which is part of their commitment and their broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports families of all communities. A study that was published in 2019 examined 50 books by Dr. Seuss and found 43 out of 45 characters of color have “characteristics aligning with the definition of Orientalism,” or the stereotypical offensive portrayal of Asia.