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Oh, what a birthday week for Dr. Seuss books

Controversy has increased sales of books by Theodor Seuss Geisel (pictured here in 1987), a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.
(Associated Press)

Oh, the books that sold last week by Dr. Seuss.

More than 1.2 million copies of stories by the late children’s author 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. For days virtually every book in the top 20 on Amazon’s bestseller list was by Dr. Seuss.

According to NPD BookScan, which tracks around 85% of retail sales, the top sellers weren’t even the books being withdrawn. “The Cat in the Hat” sold more than 100,000 copies, compared with just 17,000 in the previous week. “Green Eggs and Ham” topped 90,000 copies, and “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” sold around 88,000.

The pivot from Dr. Seuss’ books during a national event founded to honor him seems sudden, but for the NEA and local teachers it was a long time coming.

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 was born on March 2, 1904, and sales traditionally go up during his birthday week. But this year they likely received an extra shot because of those most opposed to the estate’s decision. Conservatives soon responded with allegations of “cancel culture,” as Fox News provided extensive coverage and such prominent Republicans as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released videos of themselves reading from Seuss books.

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Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it will stop publishing six of his books. His oeuvre shows the author’s work evolved and he was willing to learn from past mistakes.


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