Something deeply sinister is happening in the world of children’s literature. While the children’s section of your local library or bookstore was once filled with fables and fairy tales, it’s now filled with titles like Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish and Race Cars: A Children’s Book About White Privilege and How moms love their babies with healthy lines like “Some moms dance the night away in special shoes. It’s hard work! ”The illustrations accompanying this page are an outdoor shot of a strip club at night, with neon lights glowing and a woman protesting for fair pay for strippers.
Here is a recent tweet from the author:
I used to do way too much cocaine in this bathroom and so of course I feel obligated every time I piss in it to take a selfie pic.twitter.com/Hq0QgigwR2
– JUNIPER “MIDWEST NICE” FITZGERALD (@juniperfitz) November 9, 2021
Other writers of children’s books, those who want to write what was once considered appropriate for children, are being blocked. An aspiring writer told me, “I’ve been through the query process for the past two months and can’t believe how many officers are asking for LGBTQ children’s books.”
Another aspiring author echoed his remarks, highlighting the inner workings of the process: “Agents and editors ARE the gatekeepers, ensuring that books that are published are aligned with the current agenda. If you don’t know it, check out this site. This is a summary of agents and publishers’ Twitter posts regarding their manuscript wishlists. Some are so transparent that they’ll say they only want LGBTQ + stories, or ask for a WWI book, “but make it weird.” Some agents have said they will only accept books on climate change until they have a cohort of writers defending the environment. It’s deflating, disturbing and frustrating, both as a teacher and as a writer of YA historical fiction. YA stories that are published often pervert the story to force queer romance.
Writers and agents know what editors want, and it’s awake content written for young children. You might be wondering: who buys the twenty-seven different versions of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Biographies for Children? Who shows their children books like My Mandy on a transgender parent? Why does the children’s market have books called I am not a girl and Santa’s husband?
The answer: librarians and teachers. A librarian at a large public library told me: “I am very involved in acquiring books for the library and I have contact with many publishers. Library science is one of the most liberal professions. I have been thinking and praying for a while about what is going on with publishing books and buying books for libraries. It’s a wake-up call.
School book fairs, organized by Scholastic Inc., are also less and less viable for parents. In 2015, I wrote to Federalist on how a book published by the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature produced a book whitewashing the North Korean genocidal regime.
So where does that leave the parents? Instead of browsing through the new books section, the best and safest bet is a second-hand bookstore with titles published before they were born.
Fortunately, an alternative has begun to deprive Scholastic of its stranglehold on the market and the minds of young Americans.
Heroes of Liberty is an Israeli-American literary startup. Initially, by looking for the best possible illustrations, the founders approached ten possibilities in North America. When they heard about the project and the people they would illustrate – Ronald Reagan, Thomas Sowell and Amy Coney Barrett – the illustrators declined to participate. Fear of going against the grain in the world of children’s book publishing was enough to convince freelancers to turn down a high paying job.
The battle for the minds of children takes place in classrooms, at school council meetings, and in New York City publishing houses. It may seem hopeless as a parent battling this monster; it’s a real David and Goliath kind of fight. But Heroes of Liberty offers parents an essential tool for teaching children: books. In profiling the heroes of our country’s history, we take up children’s literature from the wide-awake crowd that is currently strangling it and, by extension, the hearts of our children.
Our goal is not to counter with our own right-wing propaganda. It is to transmit the values and morals of these historical and contemporary titans. We want Rush Limbaugh to teach kids to say what they think, we want Alexander Hamilton to teach our kids about humility and John Wayne to teach them about masculinity and honor. These are crucial lessons that our society once valued, but which have now fallen out of favor thanks to cultural elites.
Appeared last month on Ben Shapiro’s Sunday special podcast, Bari Weiss said it best: “There’s one word that sums up how we came to this insane dead end, and that’s cowardice. The number one ingredient that, if present, would change the outcome of all these stories… is courage. It’s a story of cowardice and courage, the moment we are.
We want all of these heroes to teach our children about courage, something that is sorely lacking in our culture. We want to raise a generation of children who will one day get a call and ask them to illustrate or write a new series of children’s books about the heroes of our past. And we want them to say “Where do I register?” “