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Banned Books Week: Green Eggs and Ham


Editor's note: As of October 2017, the author withdraws the key claim of this post—that Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham was banned in China from 1965 through 1991—due to a lack of corroborating sources.

Our next title under the microscope during Banned Books week is the canonical nonsense tale of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. "I do not like them, Sam-I-am, I do not like green eggs and ham." The People's Republic of China most notably concurred with this key mantra of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. Beginning in 1965, it was forbidden to read Green Eggs and Ham in Maoist China because of its "portrayal of early Marxism," and the ban was not lifted until author Theodor Seuss Geisl's death in 1991.

Green Eggs and HamGreen Eggs and HamFirst published in 1960, this whimsical book of rhyme aimed at encouraging children to try new things was great for early readers because it conveyed this complex message while using less than 50 words. Through repetition of simple words, protagonist Sam-I-Am insistently implores his nameless counterpart to try the book's eponymous dish (in a box with a fox, with a goat in a boat), who stubbornly refuses to taste the verdant breakfast. A bargain is finally struck between the debating characters; Sam's bedraggled friend will taste the meal if Sam-I-Am agrees to finally leave him alone. Lo and behold, Sam's friend discovers that he not only likes green eggs and ham, but he can't wait to eat them in all the scenarios Sam-I-Am had been suggesting all along.

Theodore Seuss GeiselTheodore Seuss Geisel

In addition to the decades-long suppression of Green Eggs and Ham in Communist China, Yertle the Tertle (1958) has recently crawled back onto banned book lists; in April 2012 the Prince Rupert School District in British Columbia, CA removed the book from schools because it violated a school ban on political messages for the line "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom, we too should have rights." The Lorax (1972) similarly raised the ire of a community in California because of its portrayal of loggers as being environmentally unfriendly.

Dr. Seuss himself admitted that as an author he was "subversive as hell," and did not want to write stories about modeling good behavior for children. His books encouraged standing up to authority while comically illustrating the consequences of fear-based thinking—bold ideas that have made a Grinch out of those opposed to instilling such attitudes in children.


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Green Eggs & Ham is facing a ban

Are you serious? It is a childrens' book and carries no hidden meanings. What's next,Rumplestillskin meets the electric chair, I swear, it is right over there. "In their lives there is such an empty space, a void, so there is nothing more to do, than become paranoid."

Banned Books

If another country is banning books, like China, then perhaps there's a language barrier. For it to happen in the US, as it did recently with The Invisible Man, then that's abhorrent.

http://afternoonsnoozebutton. maybe, or maybe he was just breaking down complex ideas into nice little simplified stories for children. He was a political cartonist before publishing most of those childrens' books. (9 days after that was published, Nixon left office.). SO... yeah.

China's ban in 1965

Please note that the ban was in 1965. You seem to have read that and stopped. It then says the ban was lifted in '91 after Dr. Seuss' death. I've been teaching in China since 2009, and I've taught Green Eggs and Ham to students for the past 3 years. Many old people still have posters of Mao in their dining rooms but this is no longer Maoist China. What he brought them was better than they had before, but paranoia was worldwide during his time. The younger generation are quick to tell about his flaws and their older generations blindness to them. You would be surprised to know how highly regarded Kobe Bryant is, so he spends a lot of time here. He even did a Sprite commercial with Jay Chou year before last. Sarah Brightman and Sophie Marceau were here for this year's Spring Festival. And there are jazz, rock and electronic/dance music festivals, and djs spinning tunes in clubs in the larger cities. So I think Rumpelstiltskin is safe.


Mao was a murderous genocial person just like Hitler. Better then what they had before? I guess Hitler brough the people he didnt kill or put in consentration camps lots of goodies to. (At the expense of those he had interned at camp consentration.) Mao even had more people murdered then Hitler did.

green eggs and ham

i would like to know the context of the controversial qoute

Good luck

If another country is banning books, like China, then perhaps there's a language barrier. For it to happen in the US, as it did recently with The Invisible Man, then that's abhorrent.

Would Like to Verify

I would like to verify that this happened and learn more about the context. Are there resources I can read to document the ban and clarify why China banned this book? A google search isn't turning up anything except several references back to this article...which includes no references. I'm looking for official verification that the book was banned, as well as citations about what specific content was deemed unsuitable. I understand the "why" part may not be available, but I wish the source was already listed here to verify that the ban actually happened.

Emily, thanks for your

Emily, thanks for your comment. I spoke with the author and we agreed that verifiable sources regarding the ban are lacking. In response, we added a retraction to the top of the post. Thanks again. We appreciate your feedback!

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