Most Americans believe Dr. Seuss’ books do not contain racist depictions

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
March 11, 2021, 3:00 PM UTC

Last week, the estate responsible for the Dr. Seuss children’s books announced that they would halt the publication of six books that included racist and insensitive imagery, including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo.” 

The announcement prompted outrage from many who decried the “cancellation” of elements of Dr. Seuss’ work. Others praised the decision for discontinuing the circulation of racial stereotypes, which the Seuss Estate called “hurtful and wrong.” But most Americans (54%) in the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll do not believe that Dr. Seuss’ books contain derogatory stereotypes of some racial and ethnic groups. Just one in five (19%) say his books do.

By 51% to 24%, Americans tend to disagree with the decision to halt publication of the affected books. That is especially high among those who do not believe that Seuss’ books contain offensive stereotypes. Four in five Americans who say the books do not contain derogatory images (83%) disagree with the decision, compared to just 15% of those who say the books do. 

Nearly nine in 10 Republicans (86%) and 56% of Independents disagree with the discontinuation. Democrats are much less likely than their partisan counterparts to do so: 23% disagree while 46% believe it was the right choice. Two-thirds of Americans over 65 disapprove (65%), compared to 60% of those aged 45-to 64-years-old and 40% of those between 30 to 44-years-old. Americans under 30 are split on the topic: 32% agree, while 32% disagree. 

Should children have access to discontinued Dr. Seuss books? 

Most Americans (55%) believe that children should still have access to the discontinued books. That sentiment is especially high among those who disagree with the ceased publication (91%), but 15% of those who agree with the halted printing also want children to have access to all Seuss books.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Yahoo News/YouGov Poll 

Methodology: The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,629 U.S. adults interviewed online from March 4 to 8, 2021. The respondents all participated in a prior Yahoo News survey conducted either March 10-11, 2020, or March 25-26, 2020, and were contacted to participate. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or non-vote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel. The margin of error is approximately 3.4 percent. 

Image: Getty