Nov 9, 2012

Friday Five: Picture Books With Horrible Messages

Picture books are many things: educational tools, entertainment, a way to keep your kids busy while you watch your stories, nostalgic items, etc. etc.  They're also a way to teach kids what you think they, and everyone else, should believe.  After looking through some children and YA  political books for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, I came across Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!  Yikes.

Sometimes these books with a purpose are good (The Lorax, anyone?) other times, they can be hurtful.  So here are five I find to be completely ridiculous and hurtful. Obviously, due to their existence, others disagree.  But such is life.

1. Latawnya The Naughty Horse Learns to Say No to Drugs, by Sylvia Scott Gibson

I think the overall intention of the book to depict some drugs as bad is a good one, but the book holds some thinly veiled racism that is just too much to take.  It also turns alcohol into a superdrug after one sip, which is a little extreme.  You can read the book online here.

2. My Working Mom, by Peter Glassman

I found out about this gem thanks to Tina Fey's Bossypants.  Essentially, the child in the story has a working mother - a witch.  It's social commentary about the horrible things that happen when you have a mother who works.  And no, it was not written in the 1950s.  It was the 90s.  Maybe it was some backlash against the shoulderpads.

3. Votes for Catherine Susan and Me, by Cathleen Ainslie

This is a picture book from 1910 that served as anti-suffrage propaganda.  There's nothing scarier than female dolls with blades for arms wanting the right to vote.

4. Maggie Goes on a Diet, by Paul Kramer

There's nothing wrong with promoting healthy lifestyles.  But when you tell the four year old child the book is aimed at that they shouldn't be fat anymore, that's where the problem comes into play.  At that age, it's the parent who should be making health decisions, not the 4 year old gaining an image problem.

5. Alfie's Home, by Richard Cohen

This book.  There are really no words.  Read it for yourself here.  It's horrible on so many levels.  Can picture books be sad? Of course, some of the best ones are.  But this one is heavy in so many ways.  The wrong ways.  It treats homosexuality as a symptom, portrays unrealistic solutions to fighting, and the pedophile doesn't get punished.  KIDS: ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE PEDOPHILES GET PUNISHED!

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