Writing, Literature, and Publishing associate professor and Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow Jabari Asim wrote a piece about reading Dr. Seuss’ books to his son at library, updating it this week as six books will now discontinue publishing as they contain racist content.
Asim recalls reading If I Ran the Zoo with his young son decades ago, coming across offensive content and redirecting to another book at the time.
To my regret, I didn’t report my experience to the library staff. I’m averse to the banning of offensive material; it’s often useful to scholars, policymakers, and regular citizens who prefer to decide for themselves. (And it’s important to note that the Seuss books in question have not been banned.) But I do believe it has no place on the picture-book shelf in a community library. I hope that the New York Public Library and other institutions planning to keep them on shelves will store them behind a desk, available upon request. A child allowed to roam freely and stumble upon racist material may seem like a minor scenario, unless it’s your child.