Article by Madelyn Kenney
Image from: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/books/dr-seuss-books.html
As you may have heard, six Dr. Suess books have been “pulled from shelves” this month and there is lots of false information flying around. Read on to find out the truth and how to interpret the historical context during Dr. Suess’s rise in popularity.
1) Dr. Seuss was born before World War I
Yep, that’s right. He was born on March 2, 1904. He wrote and illustrated lots of political cartoons and propaganda posters during World War II to contribute to the war effort. Among these included animations regarding Japanese concentration camps in the west.
2) His first book was barely publishable
While his first book finally gave him his big break, “To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” was rejected 27 times before finally being published in 1937. He planned on scrapping the whole story when he happened to bump into a friend (who just so happened to be a children’s book publisher) while walking in New York City.
Dr. Suess even agreed to revise some of the lines and illustrations regarding Asians in 1978, renaming the character “Chinese man” instead of its original use of an ethnic slur and removing his yellow skin color.
3) He published over 70 books in his career
Well, 79 to be exact, according to teachwithme.com. So don’t worry… ‘The Cat in the Hat” is still safe. If you would like to read some of his lesser-known books, try taking a look at this list to add some of his other works to your shelf.
4) The government didn’t ban the books…
The announcement was made on March 2nd to cease the publication of six of Seuss’s works. Dr. Suess Enterprises stated that the illustrations “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” The company also noted, “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
However, the books that were pulled from the shelves were not making much money anymore, so the decision was also based on finances.
5) This whole thing was a marketing scheme… and you all fell for it.
Do you know anyone who went out and bought some childrens books to fight back at supposed over-censorship in society? Well tell them congratulations! They did exactly what Dr. Suess Enterprise wanted them to do.
Since the statement was made in the first week of March, over 1.2 million copies of Dr. Suess’s books have been sold. As of this article’s publication, 12 out of 20 of the most sold books on Amazon are Dr. Suess’s. So no, this is not “cancel culture” at work.
This was a marketing scheme, and it was quite genius.