Colin McEnroe Show: What Messages Are In Children's Books?

How does what children read reveal what society wants them to be?

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Colin McEnroe Show: What Messages Are In Children's Books?
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Colin McEnroe Show: What Messages Are In Children's Books?

I get why conservative people would think children's culture is, in general, too liberal.

I would assume, without knowing, that many of my childhood influences -- Maurice Sendak and Shel Siverstein come to mind --  voted Democrat. Sesame Street started out with kind of a hippie workshop vibe and never really lost it. I could go on.

But that raises a question: In a context like children's culture, what is a liberal or conservative idea? I guess the answer might be that liberal values are a little more open ended and a little more subversive. Sesame Street can add a sympathetic HIV positive character at the height of the AIDS crisis. Sendak can tell parents who worry about his content to go to hell. Conservative values, I guess, are a little more hard and fast -- fixed on eternal, inflexible verities. But that's just the beginning of the conversation. 

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E-mail from Karl

Your guest is politer than I to not mention Bill Bennett's gambling problems and Drug Czarship. No apology, no mea culpa, no change in the world around him; just magically retconned out of existence. A section of the population taking his works seriously shows how badly some people want to indoctrinate their kids into "do as I say, not as I do" values.

E-mail from Woody

in regards to the man who spoke of Childrens lit being dumbed down, do what my wife and I did. We read to our daughter and taught her at her reading level, and when she moved beyond the level, we selectively sought new literature at her new level. Reading levels aren't age specific, they're a generalization. My daughter is in fourth grade reading at a seventh grade level. As far as content goes, it should be current and geared towards their life situations. Being Unitarians, we have many Friends that are lgbt, and any appropriate literature that teaches her and helps her understand those that surround her, and helps her assimilate into our new world of tolerance should be taught to her. She is the future and she deserves to be educated and armed.