More than 1.2 million copies of stories by the late children’s author Dr. Seuss sold in the first week of March – more than quadruple from the week before – following the news that his estate was pulling six books because of racial and ethnic stereotyping.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

On March 2, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy, announced it would cease sales of these books. 

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement that coincided with the late author and illustrator’s birthday.

The news has undoubtedly launched Dr. Seuss books back into the cultural conversation, though Read Across America Day, which also coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, usually leads to a renewed interest in his books and a yearly appearance on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list. But the number of his books on the bestsellers list at one time is unprecedented.

Theodor Geisel and his wife, Audrey, c. 1981
 (Everett/Shutterstock)

Sales for popular Dr. Seuss titles soared following the announcement that six of the children’s book author’s titles are no longer being sold because of racist and insensitive imagery

For days virtually every book in the top 20 on Amazon’s bestseller list was by Dr. Seuss.

The author claimed six spots in the USA TODAY’s Top 10 (“The Cat in the Hat,” “One Fish, Two Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” “Fox in Socks” and “Dr. Seuss’s ABC”). His works accounted for a total of 33 places on the 150 rank list.

The six books going out of print 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.’ 

Dr. Seuss childrens’ books, from left, ‘If I Ran the Zoo,’ ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ ‘On Beyond Zebra!’ and ‘McElligot’s Pool’ are displayed. These four were removed

Books by Dr. Seuss — who was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904 — have been translated into dozens of languages as well as in braille and are sold in more than 100 countries. He died in 1991.

He remains popular, earning an estimated $33 million before taxes in 2020, up from just $9.5 million five years ago, the company said. Forbes listed him No. 2 on its highest-paid dead celebrities of 2020, behind only the late pop star Michael Jackson.

As adored as Dr. Seuss is by millions around the world for the positive values in many of his works, including environmentalism and tolerance, there has been increasing criticism in recent years over the way Blacks, Asians and others are drawn in some of his most beloved children’s books, as well as in his earlier advertising and propaganda illustrations.

While some readers see Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s move as “canceling” the famous author, figures such as talk show host Stephen Colbert have commended the decision.

“It’s a responsible move on their part,” he said. “They recognize the impact these images have on readers, especially kids, and they’re trying to fix it because Dr Seuss books should be fun for all people.”

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