Wednesday, January 9, 2019


In case you didn't know, Dr. Seuss was a racist. 

A few months ago, an instagram account I follow (The Conscious Kid - they're the best. Go follow them.) published a study in Research on Diversity in Youth Literature about their findings with regard to racism in Seuss' children's books.

The report shares:

"Before and during his career publishing children’s books, Dr. Seuss also published hundreds of racist political cartoons, comics, and advertisements for newspapers, magazines, companies, and the United States government. In spite of Seuss’ extensive body of explicitly racist published works dehumanizing and degrading Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and people from other marginalized groups (including Jewish people and Muslims), many differentiate and defend the author’s children’s book."

Researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramon Stephens found that only two percent of the human characters in Seuss's books were people of colour. And all of those characters, they say, were depicted through racist caricatures.

"In addition, some of Dr. Seuss' most iconic books feature animal or non-human characters that transmit Orientalist, anti-Black, and White supremacist messaging through allegories and symbolism. These books include The Cat in the Hat​, ​The Sneetches​, and Horton Hears a Who!”

Seuss regularly depicted Black people as not human - drawing Africans and African Americans as monkeys and apes, in subservient positions to white men. Outside his children's books, his work frequently used the n-word.

Though perhaps most importantly, Seuss lived until 1991 and before he died, he took the opportunity to look over his extensive body of work to decide if he wanted to make any edits to his depiction of people of colour, or even pull certain book from publication. He chose NOT to make any edits or pull any of his books.
If kids open books and "the images they see [of themselves] are distorted, negative [or] laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society in which they are a part," Rudine Sims Bishop, a scholar of children's literature, wrote. But when they see themselves represented in a positive way, it can have a similarly powerful effect.

Dr. Seuss stories encourages “the development and reinforcement of racial bias in young children. Literature has an impact and an influence on the early development of self, the understanding of self, how children come to know themselves and […] their potential, therefore, we need to pay attention to the way literature conveys messages.”

You can read the report in full HERE
We all need to be willing to explore the things that shape the young minds of our children - and be willing to change our own minds when presented with new truths, even if they might not always be comfortable to process.

So for us, it was a no-brainer. With the ABUNDANCE of amazing and diverse literature available, Dr. Seuss is a really easy pass. Good riddance.

And if you are looking to add a wider variety of voices to your children's literary collection, check out my good friend OUR BOOK BAG - Carie regularly and consciously shares authors and books that feature traditionally under represented voices.

Photo via Our Book Bag