Data from UW–Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), which is housed in the School of Education, was utilized in two recent articles examining the decision of the Dr. Seuss estate to stop selling six of the author’s books that include racial and ethnic stereotypes.
A Mar. 4 New York Times article, headlined “Dr. Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy Erupts,” notes that “re-evaluation of these classic works is part of a larger debate about a lack of representation in publishing, and there has been an effort to diversify not just children’s book characters but also their creators.”
The article continues: “Data compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education in recent years has shown a significant increase in the number of authors and characters of color in the books it tracks. There remains, however, a long way to go.”
Likewise, a Mar. 5 Washington Post editorial, headlined “Pulling racist Dr. Seuss books makes kids’ literature better and more inclusive,” explains: “But the problem isn’t just the presence of stereotypes in children’s literature. There’s also an absence of inclusion. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education, about half of new children’s books in 2018 centered White characters while about 1 in 4 focused on people of color.”
“The remaining quarter were about animals or other creatures, which means, yes, animals have about the same representation in children’s literature as children of color,” the op-ed piece continues. “That doesn’t just make kids of color feel left out — it could even hinder their ability to learn, with a University of Toronto study finding that children can more easily understand lessons from books featuring humans than animals.”