Discussing Dr. Seuss
(TAGS: Dr. Seuss, Intellectual Freedom, Children’s Classics)
Public libraries, New Tecumseth Public Library among them, are having conversations about how to balance the core library value of intellectual freedom with the harmful stereotypes depicted in some of what are regarded as children’s classics.
The estate of children’s author Dr. Seuss has recently made the decision to stop publishing six of the author’s books, published between the 1930s and the 1970s, because of racist and insensitive imagery. The six books are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. The decision, made after many months of discussion, aims to protect the legacy of the author in a society that is reckoning with racism and white supremacy. “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in a statement. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
Existing copies of these titles in the New Tecumseth Public Library collection will remain in circulation until they are no longer usable. As they are now out of print, these titles will not be replaced when they leave the collection.
In light of this news, it is worth taking a look at children’s books, even those considered classics, with a critical eye. Society has changed dramatically since Seuss first created these works. If you want to share classics and older titles with young readers, consider taking the opportunity to have a conversation about the themes, characterization and the time period a book was published. Then balance these stories with other diverse titles.
Diversity in publishing, especially in youth literature, has been a topic of conversation and concern in the industry for a number of years. NTPL is committed to building a diverse collection of children’s material that accurately depicts different cultures and people; we want our children’s collection to reflect diversity and to foster a culture that is respectful of difference. We invite you to discover new titles and authors through our catalogue and collections.