If “cancel culture” has truly come for Dr. Seuss, Walton County certainly hasn’t noticed.
Despite uproar in political circles over an announcement from the estate of Theodore Geisel, the children’s author better known by his pseudonym Dr. Seuss, that they would no longer publish six of the author’s lesser known books for perceived racist imagery, the local community’s book culture has shown no sign of taking any action against the author’s books.
On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises issued a statement to the public, admitting they would no longer publish six of Seuss’s books — “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.”
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the statement read. “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.”
All six titles have been criticized previously in some circles for stereotypical portrayals of people of color, such as a caricatured Chinese man in “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” a book already revised in the 1970s by Seuss himself to remove the word “Chinaman,” or art of Africans wearing grass skirts and Asians described with “eyes all a slant” in “If I Ran the Zoo.”
Soon after the announcement, which fell on Read Across America Day, and the lack of acknowledgment of Seuss’ birthday by President Joe Biden during his remarks on the day, conservative pundits began decrying liberal attempts to “cancel” Seuss and his works, although no action has been taken by any group other than Seuss’ own estate.
Biden’s lack of mention of Seuss stood out from recent White House tradition of mention the author by name on Read Across America Day, however, which was enough to draw ire from the Democratic president’s critics.
The author’s most popular works, including “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham” remain in print and all the affected books, which remained on sale online while stock lasted, shot up in sales due to the announcement. Used copies are now going for high amounts on resale websites across the web.
The books are not hard to find locally, however. The Azalea Regional Library System, which includes all of Walton’s libraries, has multiple copies of all six books. All six can be found at the Monroe-Walton County Library, and the libraries in Loganville and Social Circle all have copies of several of the books, if not all. Only the Walnut Grove Library, which is only a few years in operation, has none of the six, but it has several Dr. Seuss books in stock, including “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat.”
The Azalea system put out a statement on the affected books, saying they would remain in circulation despite the Seuss Foundation’s announcement: “There are no plans to remove the affected Dr. Seuss books from any member library within the Azalea Regional Library System. These books, like all books, are products of their time and reflect the views of a past era. By allowing these books to remain in our collections, we are not endorsing stereotypes or unflattering depictions; we are simply making them accessible to the public. AZRLS libraries do not condone censorship or the banning of books and we stand behind our mission of providing constituents with equal access to educational, informational, and recreational print and digital resources and services in order to encourage life-long learning, further development of an informed citizenry, and support the innovative, academic, and creative endeavors of the communities we serve.”
Local school libraries also continue to stock Seuss’ books and have announced no push to do otherwise.
“In recognition of Read Across America, the Walton County School District celebrated literacy in a variety of ways, including reading books by Dr. Seuss and other authors,” the system announced in a prepared statement. “At this time, WCSD has not made plans to remove Dr. Seuss’ books from local schools. We will work to continue ensuring books in our school libraries meet Georgia Department of Education standards.”