Now Scholastic is pushing identity politics on very young children

Anyone who has spent much time in the children’s section of a library over the last decade or so has likely observed a shift in the selection of books available for children to borrow. The books have become (1) a lot more politically correct, and (2) a lot dumber overall. More and more of the books explicitly push a far left-leaning political agenda. And the people who write children’s literature because they have an agenda generally do not care about things like building a child’s vocabulary. (Indeed, there is something about needing to tell people what they should believe that is infantilizing in its own right.) Some urban libraries now offer children’s programs like Drag Queen Story Hour – which started off controversial and became even more so after a Houston library invited a registered sex offender convicted of assaulting an eight-year-old boy to read to the kids.

If you have followed the professional organizations for library staffers on Twitter or Facebook, this behavior would not surprise you at all. Many of their posts are ideological in nature, because apparently it is hard to increase literacy among children without being divisive. Your tax dollars at work.

Public schools and libraries are attractive to political activists precisely because they offer access to children. Not unlike pedophiles and other child predators, these folks engage in “grooming” behavior. They do a thousand little things to build trust with children and then they try to exploit that relationship.

Political activists deliberately target ever younger children because they are betting that they will beat parents and churches to these conversations. Why does a kindergartner need to be hanging out with drag queens at the library? Because chances are parents have not had a conversation about sexuality with a five-year-old and most parents do not think they are dropping their child off in the children’s library to learn about getting a sex change.

I learned early on in parenthood that I needed to pre-read what our daughter found at the library because children’s books were becoming ever more inappropriate, glorifying promiscuity and suicide and many other destructive, antisocial behaviors. Children’s television has also followed suit. Now we have shows like 13 Reasons Why – which fetishizes the depression of a young girl and makes her suicide seem so deliciously full of drama. They are coming out with a Nancy Drew series, but this time the detective work involves casual sex. A relative was telling me that when her son was in 7th grade, his teacher passed out boxes of condoms to every kid in his class. Because in public schools, the assumption is that responsible adults encourage seeking sexual partners among girls who are barely old enough to have gotten their period. Is it really surprising that Jeffrey Epstein was once a school teacher?

You have to be a royally fucked up person to delight in sexualizing childhood. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fucked up people working in schools and libraries now.

Beyond sex and suicide, there are now a lot of books targeting very young children intended to subvert values like patriotism. Consider this book – with third-graders as its target audience – that is written from the point of view of the illegitimate sons Thomas Jefferson had with one of his slaves. Twenty years ago, eight-year-old children were reading books like Charlotte’s Web and Abel’s Island. Now they are given books about raping female slaves. Help your child question the meaning of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” its Amazon listing boasts. Just what every third-grader needs to be doing.

Scholastic Books used to be the definition of a wholesome service for kids. Teachers would distribute the company’s fliers to kids in their classroom, the kids would take it home like a Toys R Us catalog, beg their parents for the money, and then wait for their package to arrive at their desk weeks later.

Now Scholastic is promoting books like:

Caroline Mackler’s Not If I Can Help It, where the main character discovers her father is sleeping with her best friend’s mother

Alex Gino’ George, about a transgender elementary school student

Barbara Dee’s Star Crossed, about a middle school girl who discovers that she is bisexual during their school’s production of Romeo and Juliet

Alex Gino’s You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P, which includes text like this:

Jillian prides herself on not being a bigot. She has an aunt who is black and her aunt has a partner, whom Jillian loves as well. Her Aunt Alicia, who is black has two children, Justin and Jamila, 3 and 5 respectively and Jillian just loves them. However, she has other family members such as her grandmother and her Uncle Mike, a singular buffoon who display their bigotry. The grandmother asks her daughter-in-law Alicia to bring ethnic foods such as a sweet potato pie. She also makes comments about Jamila’s hair. Many people might not catch the subtle bigotry in that, but to me and many others the subtext is quite plain…The uncle is Archie Bunker revisited, an unabashed bigot who defends his ignorant comments, even when he sees that he is driving others away. You just want to shove a drumstick down his throat.

Then Molly Osertag’s The Witch Boy, because now gendered followers of the occult are oppressors:

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

All of these books are targeted at 8- to 12-year-old children.

These folks are not going to stop until they trash everything associated with childhood. They are doing everything they can to ensure that the chasm between people who invent and fetishize suffering and everyone else is multi-generational. And the end result will be that there are a lot of normals whose kids will not experience the joy of getting books from the library because there’s nothing but garbage on the shelves. And, probably, at some point, governments will stop subsidizing public libraries altogether because it’s too controversial.

I used to laugh at my mother when she’d say things to me like, “you should really buy up all the classics you can, because they are going to stop selling them.” Now I see that’s a sort of wisdom.

What I am reading these days

I have a great love of books and film to begin with… But I have to say, I have been indulging in some rather magnificent fare lately.

All Things India

First, I have developed a serious interest in India. (Or perhaps recovered is a better term. I had a Jhumpa Lahiri phase in my early 20s.) I know I have mentioned the fantastic book I finished on the history of curry. Feasts and Fasts is another amazing book by the same author, which uses the history of food as a gateway into discussing the broader history of the Indian subcontinent (and, by extension, the various cultures that have been stakeholders there across millennia). It is so strange to me now to hear the name of a dish and be able to pinpoint the region it comes from and how it ever came to be a thing there. India is high on my list of places to visit now.

Before that, I had been reading about the Mountbatten dynasty via Pamela Hicks’ Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten. (I wish I could recommend this book, but it’s honestly quite painful. Torturous really. If you can imagine Gwyneth Paltrow with all of her name-dropping of celebrities and shallow digressions, but with nabobs, then you have already gleaned all there is to glean from this book.) I am thankful my interest survived.

I started working my way through the series Indian Summers on Masterpiece, which I think is excellent. (Does this series come from the book Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire? I am curious, but have not read that book yet.) The show takes place across summers in Simla, which is in the foothills of the Himalayas, with a group of the British civil servants and merchants at the time of the British Raj, beginning in 1932. The show follows two plot lines: one with the British and one with the struggle for independence.

Martha Gellhorn

We very much loved touring Hemingway’s house in Key West last year, and since then, I have read a lot of books on Hemingway’s time in Florida and Cuba. And then I started reading the works of Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn was an incredible writer in general, but an especially talented war correspondent. Most people, however, know her only as “Hemingway’s third wife.” She met Hemingway at Sloppy Joe’s bar in Key West (Hemingway’s favorite haunt) while vacationing with her family. Lord, what that woman could do with words. Her books are filled with very nuanced tales of how war and poverty impacted ordinary people.

Hemingway’s house in Key West

The Second Seminole War

I wrote earlier about how I have been studying the Second Seminole War (or, as I like to call it, the Afghanistan of the 1830s) ever since Elise and I decided to hike out to the ruins of a sugar plantation that was torched by Seminoles. My latest book on the topic is The Second Seminole War and the Limits of American Aggression. A lot of folks like to make a big deal about the Seminoles resorting to guerrilla tactics, but it’s silly to pretend this was a novel development in American history even then. After all, we have a country because a bunch of colonialists did exactly the same thing to the Brits.

Novels… I’m Trying to Enjoy Fiction (The Struggle is Real)

I am attempting to read a series of novels by H.S. Cross that revolve around the lives of boys and adults at a boarding school in England. I vastly prefer non-fiction to fiction, but these novels are well done and erudite, with is sort of a reward for a life of reading quality non-fiction, no?

High Tea, Sherlock Sports a Bow Tie

I have encountered other homeschoolers who have a ritual of enjoying afternoon tea and reading poetry aloud for their children. We prefer to read novels and nonfiction books as a family in the evenings (when we aren’t playing board games or Dungeons and Dragons). It has evolved into a sort of family literary society, where we take turns reading and discussing what we’ve covered. It’s amazing how quickly this builds both literacy and critical thinking skills in children.

This afternoon we decided to give tea and poetry a chance. We went all out, however. We set the table with E’s great-grandmother’s bone china and silver. We made parfaits in her great-great-grandmother’s crystal. It was an opportunity to explain to her how to arrange a formal table setting and to talk about traditions. The first rule of pulling out the fine china and crystal: Be gentle and respectful, because it ultimately belongs to future generations.

The table set for tea.

And we put a bow tie on our rough coat Jack Russell terrier, Sherlock.

A proper English dog. Yes, he will sit politely at the table.

I think reading poetry is a fantastic way to help young children build an aesthetic sense. E is very similar to me in her reading habits – she loves nonfiction, and particularly books about nature, science, and history. But there’s something about poetry that just works for our personalities. The poet loves detail as much as the scientist.

Excellent collections of poems for young children include: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young, Gyo Fujikawa’s A Child’s Book of Poems, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (with gorgeous illustrations by Tasha Tudor), Eric Carle’s Animals Animals, Margaret Wise Brown’s Give Yourself to the Rain, Arnold Lobel’s The Frogs and Toads All Sang, Emily Dickinson’s Poetry for Young People, Mary O’Neill’s Hailstones and Halibut Bones, and of course, everything by Shel Silverstein. Michael Bedard wrote an excellent book, Emily, which covers the life and quirks of Emily Dickinson.

E having a good afternoon.

What’s the difference between afternoon tea and high tea?

Some Outstanding Books on Sailing, Exploration, and Other Great Adventures

Here is a long list of books for folks who love sailing and incredible expeditions over water or through wilderness around the world.

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship

The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat by Mark Nicholas

The Cruisers Handbook of Fishing by Scott and Wendy Bannerot

Tricks of the Trades by Bruce Van Sant

Island Hopping to the Caribbean by David and Annie LaVigne

Cape Horn to Starboard: The Classic Chronicle of Rounding the Horn in a 32-Foot Sloop by John Kretschmer

Sailing a Serious Ocean: Sailboats, Storms, Stories and Lessons Learned from 30 Years at Sea by John Kretschmer

Across Islands and Oceans: A Journey Alone Around the World By Sail and By Foot by James Baldwin

Bound for Distant Seas: A Voyage Alone to Asia Aboard the 28-Foot Sailboat Atom by James Baldwin

A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Seaworthy: Adrift with William Willis in the Golden Age of Rafting by T.R. Pearson

Around the World in a Cement Boat: A Young Girl’s True Adventure by Cheryl Trzasko

Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West by Bryce Andrews

A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya by Linda Schele and David Freidel

The Serpent and the Rainbow: A Harvard Scientist’s Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombies, and Magic by Wade Davis

The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis

One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rainforest by Wade Davis

The Lost Amazon: The Pioneering Expeditions of Richard Evans Schultes by Wade Davis

Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries by Kim MacQuarrie

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

The Travels of Marco Polo (I also highly recommend this 16-episode documentary, The Silk Road, on Curiosity Stream. The journalist Alfred de Montesquiou retraces the path Marco Polo took from Venice to China. You will learn so much about so many cultures and sub-cultures. It’s incredible.)

Aztec and Maya: The Complete Illustrated History by Charles Phillips

Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day by Carrie Gibson

Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Private Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe that Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign by Stephan Talty

Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Ocean by Brian Fagan

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen

Caribs: The Original Caribbean Pirates and the Founding Fathers of American Democracy by John Boyd

The History of Florida by Michael Gannon