Ironically I looked up the six Dr. Seuss books that have been canceled and all six are alive and well in the Toronto Public Library. Even more interesting, demand for these books has skyrocketed compared to the Dr. Seuss books that were not canceled (even though the uncanceled books were far more popular in ‘normal’ times, as evidenced by the number of copies).
See for yourself. The yellow checkmarks show how many holds have been placed and the number of available copies:
For a list of all the canceled books, see: Here are the ‘wrong’ illustrations that got six Dr. Seuss books cancelled
After considering both sides of the argument I’ve come to the conclusion that if I had kids I would rather keep history intact and take the time to sit down and talk with them about the issue, and about many other issues like this one.
Why for instance, is a traditional Chinese hat bad but not a traditional, say Mad Men-style hat? That is, business hats from the 1920s to 60s?
If you have to cancel something because of a traditional hat, isn’t that saying the traditional hat is bad? Or is it saying that you are seeing that traditional hat as bad? And if you are seeing that traditional hat as bad, what does that say about you?
Will all kids’ books with Mad Men-style hats be canceled too?
And Curious George wants to know what will become of The Man With The Yellow Hat?
Part of me understands what some see as the complexity of the issue. Another part thinks the whole thing is somewhat ridiculous.
Where does it end? Where and how do we draw the line?
Rather than have someone choose for our kids, would it not be better to encourage them to develop the critical thinking skills to make their own literary choices?