Feature 12.01.2021 5 minutes

Baby Book Wars

Reader imagination

Kids' lit gets lit.

When the frizzy-haired Marxists at my local library start ranting about seizing the means of production, they’re not talking about factories anymore. They’re talking about you, your womb, and its output.

We have put childless despots like this in positions of authority over our kids. They have cleverly figured out that their great nihilistic cultural project requires your children to see it through to the end. And they are coming for them. You can hear the plains vibrating as the great galloping horde approacheth your elementary school.

After all, their harebrained schemes will only work if they can fool a large majority of people to do what they say. You, dear reader, are too smart to fall for their lies! But three-year-olds? Those idiots will believe anything.

Just look around. From the outside, these creatures look normal: young bookstore clerks heaping tables full of rainbow flags and Margaret Sanger hagiographies, lumpy school board officials quietly slipping descriptions of “extreme bestiality and pornography” into middle-grade curricula, feminist librarians proudly displaying Transgender Toddler board books and other government propaganda on the low racks so little kids can easily see them.

Do not be fooled by a Regime functionary’s harmless outward appearance! They are harpies who have swooped into every burgh and barn. They peer at you through jealous eyes as you push your stroller through the park, rubbing their claws together and snapping their beaks as they hatch their plans to ensnare your kids. When I think of these wretched people, I think of Quentin Blake’s drawings for Roald Dahl books like The Witches and The Twits, the evil giants in The BFG, or Giant Peach James’s horrible spinster aunts.

Dahl knew who the true enemies of children were. He warned us! Yet we still put Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker in charge—of everything.

Scary Tales

All great children’s literature has a whiff of horror, because children historically have had much to fear. The world used to be quite a dangerous place for kids. Famine, plague, war, wild animals, spooky woods to get lost in, various cruel adults. In classic fairy tales, these perils become wicked stepmothers and child-eating witches and dragons and ogres. The friendly man who lures you to Pleasure Island, but turns you into a donkey and sells you to the circus. The sea witch who promises you legs and a new life, but you have to sell your voice and your soul to get it.

The warning from these long-dead writers echoes over the centuries and should be heeded now: run, little children! Run as fast as you can and hide from the grown-ups who are wolves in disguise!

Recall the spirit medium Tangina’s scene-stealing monologue in Poltergeist. There is something very 2021 about her words when she explains why the evil ghost stole Carol Ann from her family. “I don’t know what hovers over this house, but it was strong enough to punch a hole into this world and take your daughter away from you. It keeps Carol Ann very close to it. It lies to her, it tells her things only a child could understand. It has been using her to restrain the others. To us, it is the beast. Now let’s go get your daughter.”

Poltergeist, as it happens, is a wonderful movie about maternal love overcoming the devil. When you watch it now, it almost looks like a parable for the battle that is now raging between parents and the woke witches, eager to punch a hole into your normal world (through a screen, no less) and drag your kids into their own nightmare dimension.

Today, though, there is a new set of fairy tales we are teaching our children. These progressive fables have no practical use to their actual readers, the kids. They are only useful to the purveyors of these lies.

Amazon is recommending a book called It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity for kids as young as three. In one illustration, an adult holds a baby and says to it “When you were born, you couldn’t tell people who you were or how you felt. They looked at you and made a guess. Maybe they got it wrong, maybe they got it right.”

Yes, the baffling mystery of what gender a newborn is. Forget it, it’s like trying to sex a clam. One day experts may crack the elusive code!

The profusion of bullshittery at the local bookstore looks, as the Daily Wire writer Matt Walsh puts it, like “signs at an Antifa rally.” Board books have ludicrous titles like Woke Baby, Anti-Racist Baby, and A is for Activist.

Browsing these modern titles quickly devolves into a horror show. One book called Mama, Why Do You Have to Go to Work? features a distressing illustration of two crying, terrified toddlers on the cover clinging to their mother. Sounds like a heartwarmer! “Why Do You Have to Go to Work helps children understand why mom’s job is important and how it enriches their time at home together. The book also reminds mothers how remarkable they are at building a career while simultaneously nurturing a family.”

Hear that? Stop crying, kids!

Once they’ve piped down, you can look forward to helping your kids understand where their little sister went with a “medically accurate, non-judgmental, and gender-inclusive resource” called What’s An Abortion Anyway? Spoiler alert: in this family, they don’t all live happily ever after.

Writers Fight Back

Finally, some are pushing back. Walsh just released a spicy new children’s book that skewers this insanity and offers some much-needed counterprogramming. Johnny the Walrus is about a little boy who likes to pretend he’s a large marine mammal. Naturally, Johnny’s imaginative game gets taken too literally by his neurotic mother. There’s even a terrifying illustration of a pink-haired, machete-wielding doctor who declares “a simple procedure cuts feet into fins!”

I got to ask Walsh about his book and why they want our kids so badly. “Because kids have no psychological defenses,” he said. “Kids are very easy to convince. Gender theory is especially prominent [in children’s books], even more than race, because the ideas are so absurd that it’s harder to reach adults. When you see Democrat politicians in their 60s talking about trans rights, they haven’t been convinced. They’ve adopted this pose for self-preservation. If you really want to convince people, you need to go to very young kids. They don’t understand the difference between reality and fantasy, so they’re easier to reach.”

Author Matt Mehan also recently released a beautifully illustrated children’s book called The Handsome Little Cygnet, a poetic retelling of The Ugly Duckling in which a young male swan gets confused about his identity. Sound familiar?

I predict a wave of rebellious children’s books like these. Illiterates destroyed children’s literature, so it now falls to a small handful of smart dissident writers and poets and illustrators to create it anew.

I am doing my part; my contribution to this important new genre is in the works. “K is for Kyle,” the first in my series of inspirational American heroes, is coming soon from an underground samizdat publisher at an undisclosed location.

“People are concerned with their kid’s physical dangers, masks etc., but not concerned enough with the moral dangers,” Walsh warns. To help teach our kids to avoid these moral dangers, we will need a great many more unwoke fairy tales. We need to teach them how to defeat modern-day dragons and inspire them to push ogres into their own traps.

“Fairy tales are more than true,” wrote G.K. Chesterton—“not because they tell us dragons exist but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

Let us hope he was right.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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