Woke children’s books have pushed everything else off the shelves
My bookshop visit seemed like part of a pattern, in which we subject the most impressionable part of society to our most radical experimentsJULIET SAMUEL4 December 2021 • 6:00am
All I wanted was a book to explain the story of Chanukah for children. Was that so much to ask? I know Judaism is a small religion in this country, but I had gone to a very big book shop.
The children’s section occupied most of the second floor. There was a whole bookshelf devoted to the Gruffalo, one for the Hungry Caterpillar and another for Dr Seuss. Fair enough. Then I found the reference books. As you might expect, it was full of dinosaurs, animals, nature, anatomy and maps. The largest chunk, however, was given over to politics.
It wasn’t labelled as such, perhaps because the curators did not recognise that’s what it was. There was a section of biographies of people who were clearly meant to be role models. Several were uncontroversial – Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Rosalind Franklin – even if the text inside was a load of poorly written dross.
But in among them were texts on the lives of former US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Vice President Kamala Harris, whose main qualification for inclusion seemed to be that they were female, American and Left-wing. What this has to do with the interests or educational needs of a normal British child I could not tell you.
Then there was what I’ll call the Greta Thunberg section. You could buy seemingly innumerable hagiographies of the Swedish teenager alongside an array of books about why children should become campaigners because “silence is not an option!” There were books about NHS “heroes”, a deeply irritating shelf of cod feminism with titles like Rebel Stories for Rebel Girls and books lauding Black Lives Matter.
There was a book that I think must have escaped the fiction section, but which could have made a good political tome, called Calm down, Boris! (Blurb: “Boris is a very lovable monster. If only he didn’t get so carried away…”)
And then down on the ground, occupying a modest half-shelf, I found the books on religion: a few children’s bibles, a book on Islam and some Christmas stories. That was it.
An assistant ran a search at the shop – Hatchard’s on Piccadilly – and at all surrounding Waterstones stores, including the 200,000-book, five-floor monster branch nearby. If I wanted a children’s book on any recent political fad, I was in luck.
As for Chanukah books, they used to have several, she found, but they sold out. Given there is demand, perhaps they might restock one, if the children’s indoctrination section has any space going. It’s just an idea.
I couldn’t help but feel my bookshop visit was part of a pattern, in which we subject the most vulnerable and impressionable part of society to our most radical experiments.
Crusading ideology in cartoon form, unnecessary teenage vaccination and mandatory face masks in schools when they aren’t required in offices or bars: these things speak of a civilisation with unhealthy neuroses and without the willpower or good sense to shield our children from them.
Promoters of this stuff probably delude themselves that they are handing on a sense of responsibility to the next generation. What they are really doing is using children as a dumping ground for all their own guilt and fear. But children don’t vote, so it doesn’t matter.