The politicization of children’s books
Like most boys their age, my sons much prefer playing video games rather than reading for fun, which they see as an oxymoron. I always buy books from them, but every year it gets harder and harder to find titles that focus on storytelling rather than politics.
Recently, I read three e-mails from bookstores with recommendations for children’s books as part of a national “Indie Next” program run by the American Booksellers Association (ABA). Among 93 new books, all published since May, I couldn’t find one that my boys would like. The picks included a “contemporary wellness romance” about a young trans athlete battling “discriminatory law targeting trans athletes”; a book about a young lesbian with pansexual and non-binary friends who denounced her white privilege; a âqueer coming-of-age storyâ about a young lesbian joining the boy’s football team; a young adult novel on gender fluidity written by a non-binary writer who is the mother of a transgender child; a âtale of self-discoveryâ about a bisexual love triangle; a book about a transgender witch named Wyatt; and a “fabulously jolly” novel about “hanging out, having a ball and kissing your inner queen” which starred “an openly gay fat boy stuck in a small town in West Texas”. Other titles included the story of a Puerto Rican eighth-grader who “sails.” . . the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a fast-bourgeois Brooklyn â; a young adult thriller with a bisexual protagonist that explores the “politics of systemic racism”; and Don’t hate the gamer, a gamer novel that I thought would appeal to boys until I realized it was about a young feminist struggling with the misogyny of the “male dominated gaming community”.
A host of new children’s books available on Amazon appeal to the same set. These include a new press release for 8-12 year olds on a young Muslim living in a xenophobic town in Texas where âhostileâ residents are protesting against the construction of a new mosque; a âswoonyâ gay pirate adventure story reported by NPR; a queer ghost story starring a bisexual teenage paranormal podcaster; and a controversy for 7-12 year olds entitled Palm trees at the North Pole: the burning truth about climate change.
The protagonists of these books included pigs, porcupines, dogs, cats, dinosaurs, mice, Navajo, immigrants from Vietnam and Pakistan, transgender witches, a lone raccoon named Grub, pirates. gay, lots of young feminists and very, very few straight, white males. If a story turns the page, the skin tones and identities of the characters are irrelevant; my priority is to give my children good books. But the focus of many of these new titles for awake children seems to be identity politics and indoctrination, not storytelling. In addition, the lack of representation of a particular group is striking. As a recent analysis in the the Wall Street newspaper recently illustrated, men now represent only 40 percent of students. The enrollment rates of poor white men and the working class are now lower than those of young black, Latino and Asian men from the same economic backgrounds. Given this reality and the fact that boys read far less for fun than girls, shouldn’t there be pressure for disadvantaged white boys to read at an early age?
Literary agents are the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. Many explicitly state that they are looking for books from and for âmarginalized and under-represented communitiesâ. A non-profit organization called We Need Diverse Books also works to help authors publish books with “diverse characters.” But diversity of thought and opinion is not a priority in the publishing world; nor the poor white children who live in crude exurbs or sticks and have parents who voted for Donald Trump. I asked an ABA representative about the left orientation in their recommendations and was told they represent “the titles (booksellers across the country) are most excited to recommend. to customers”. As for conservative books, when I asked my local Barnes & Noble for such titles, a bookseller looked at me like I asked him for child pornography and said, “There might be some on our site.” website but without knowing the name of the book you want I have no idea.
If I have little in common with my sons literally, there was a TV show that we all watched as a family once a week. For years, Survivor was the only cultural offering we could all agree on, but the show inserted its own left-wing talking points. I quit the show after its host, Jeff Probst, gleefully canceled his signing, 20-year-old “Come on in, guys!” appeal to the castaways based on the objection of a single competitor, a gay man with a pregnant “husband” (ie a woman in transition) at home.
My new goal is to try to awaken my children to classical literature. But the word “try” is effective: my kids say they hate reading “old books”, although they enjoyed classics such as The foreigners, The Hobbit, White Fang, and a few more, if I buy them a brand new edition. Some contemporary children’s books are written by curators. Dan Crenshaw has a new book that warns kids about the dangers of crop cancellation. Dennis Prager’s nonprofit Prager U produces excellent children’s books and videos, including recent titles on September 11 and an upcoming book on Columbus Day. Andrew Klavan has a series of teenage thrillers that my kids might enjoy.
The glut of left-wing children comes at a time when the National School Board Association would like conservative parents to be investigated and potentially prosecuted as “national terrorists,” if they oppose it too vigorously. which is taught in their classrooms. But the government does not have time to investigate half of the country’s parents. If you aren’t already paying close attention to the books your kids are reading, now is the time.