The favourite children’s books that have been cancelled: As Biff, Chip and Kipper title is pulped for its ‘Islamophobia’, how Dr Dolittle, Enid Blyton’s ‘Noddy’ and Dr Seuss have been rewritten after backlash
- Iconic children’s books have been axed or amended decades after publication
- Celebrated authors J.K Rowling, Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss have come under fire
- Latest example is Biff, Chip and Kipper title that was panned for Islamophobia
Iconic books designed to stimulate the imagination of millions of British children are being axed or amended for their ‘insensitive’ or ‘racist’ connotations decades after publication.
Widely-celebrated authors including J.K Rowling, Enid Blyton, Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl have all been hit with accusations of discrimination or cultural insensitivity.
Last year, Cambridge University’s archive included ‘trigger warnings’ for harmful content in children’s books for ‘content relating to slavery, colonialism and racism’.
Researchers reviewed thousands of books and magazines to expose offensive authors after campaigners demanded teachers censor racial slurs when reading Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
Six Dr Seuss classics were also pulled from the shelves in 2021 because they contained racist images of African ‘natives’ designed to look like monkeys.
The Royal Shakespeare Company even issued a warning that cancelling William Shakespeare’s work for a politically correct audience would be ‘the worst thing we can do’.
Just this week, the Biff, Chip and Kipper title ‘The Blue Eye’, which aims to help children learn to read, was panned for its ‘Islamophobia’ amid allegations from readers the story and its illustrations are racist.
Following the latest twist in this long-running row, MailOnline shares other high-profile examples of children’s classics being edited for today’s audience.
Six Dr Seuss classics – including ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ were pulled from the shelves in 2021 because they contained racist images of African ‘natives’ designed to look like monkeys
The black-faced golliwogs from Enid Blyton’s 20th century Noddy classics were banished from modern editions of the children’s tale and replaced with goblins
Hugh Lofting’s Dr. Dolittle was first published in 1920 however in the late 1980s was altered to remove the racist content, including a reference to ‘n*****’
Biff, Chip and Kipper – ‘Islamophobic’
Oxford University publishers have apologised and pulled a Biff, Chip and Kipper children’s book from shelves amid allegations the story and its illustrations are racist and Islamophobic.
The story – used in classrooms across the UK to help teach children to read – sees the protagonists magically transported to a generic Middle Eastern-looking country.
The Oxford Reading Tree book, entitled The Blue Eye, by Roderick Hunt, was deemed offensive after baddies in the children’s book – perceived to be Muslim – were described as ‘unfriendly’ and ‘scary’.
Social media commentators suggested it was teaching kids to be racist and Islamophobic.
The publishers – Oxford University Press – have since removed the book from publication and apologised for any offence caused.
A book called The Blue Eye has been pulled by publishers after social media users called out its portrayal of seemingly Muslim characters, saying it encouraged Islamophobia and racism
Dr Seuss classics – Racially insensitive imagery
Six books by the American children’s author were withdrawn by the Dr Seuss Enterprises company in 2021.
The publisher said it would no longer print six of his works over racist and insensitive imagery.
The six books affected 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’.
In ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ an Asian person is portrayed wearing a conical hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl. Earlier editions of the book showed the same character with yellow skin and a long ponytail.
‘If I Ran the Zoo’ , published in 1950, includes a drawing of two dark-skinned characters wearing what appear to be grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads.
‘Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,’ the company said.
The decision to cease publication and sales of the books was made after months of discussion, the company said.
In ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ an Asian person is portrayed wearing a coned hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl. Earlier editions of the book (right) showed the same character with yellow skin and a long ponytail
‘If I Ran the Zoo’, which was published in 1950, includes a drawing of two dark-skinned characters wearing what appear to be grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads
Dr Dolittle – Altered to remove racist content
Hugh Lofting’s Dr. Dolittle was first published in 1920 however in the late 1980s was altered to remove the racist content.
The original edition contains the N-word and other derogatory terms, as well as racial stereotypes in pictures of characters Prince Bumpo and his mother Queen Ermintrude, drawn by Lofting himself.
In one disturbing passage from the original book the protagonist bleaches the African prince’s skin because he wants to marry a Caucasian princess.
Librarian Isabelle Suhl called the book ‘chauvinistic’ and dubbed the protagonist ‘the personification of The Great White Father Nobly Bearing the White Man’s Burden’
She added to the New York Times that his creator was a ‘white racist and chauvinist, guilty of almost every prejudice known to modern white Western man.’
Hugh Lofting’s ‘Dr. Dolittle’ was first published in 1920 however in the late ’80s was altered to remove some of the offensive content
Enid Blyton – Edited to remove offence
Prolific children’s writer Enid Blyton was linked to racism in updated English Heritage information about the blue plaque on the Chessington home where she wrote her first stories while working as a nursery governess between 1920 and 1924.
Her use of the term ‘Golliwogs’ in the beloved children’s book series Noddy has now been changed to ‘Goblins’ in recent editions.
The original Noddy stories, penned by Ms Blyton between 1949 and 1963, featured black-faced golliwogs who lived in Golly Town.
Mr Golly, one of Noddy’s best friends, ran the town garage and looked after the popular character’s car. His complexion was later changed to have whiter skin.
Miss Blyton also featured villainous golliwogs in the stories and in the 1951 book, Here Comes Noddy Again, the dolls were Noddy’s arch enemies, who were rude to his friends and stole his car.
Golliwog dolls were popular at the time the stories were written, but were later considered racist, prompting publishers to reissue the books and replace the golliwogs with other characters.
In 2009, Author Sophie Smallwood, Ms Blyton’s granddaughter, decided to banish golliwogs from any new Noddy tale in a bid to avoid controversy.
The original Noddy stories, penned by Enid Blyton between 1949 and 1963, featured black-faced golliwogs who lived in Golly Town. These were replaced in modern editions of the children’s classic
Babar the Elephant – ‘Celebrates colonialism’
The Babar the Elephant series by French novelist Jean De Brunhoff has come under fire for offensive, racist images of black people in both illustrations and text.
It tells the story of a young elephant who leaves Africa for Paris after his mother is killed by a cruel hunter and is taken in by a wealthy old woman who promptly begins to teach him how to live as a human.
Critics have argued that the book celebrations of colonialism because of how the title character leaves the jungle and later returns to ‘civilize’ his fellow animals.
Another book in the series, Babar’s Travels, came under fire for exposing children to ethnic stereotypes when one of the elephant’s adventures finds him faced with ‘savage cannibals’.
It was removed from a library in East Sussex in 2012 after staff upheld a complaint that it contained offensive stereotypes of black Africans.
Babar’s Travels, in which one of the cartoon elephant’s adventures finds him faced with ‘savage cannibals’, has also come under fire for exposing children to ethnic stereotypes
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