- A slew of ‘woke’ children’s books is dominating book shelves with titles like ‘Antiracist Baby’, ‘Feminist Baby’, ‘Woke Baby’, ‘Teach Your Dragon About Diversity’ and ‘Daddy & Dada’
- The books, seen by DailyMail.com at book stores across the country, feature transgender infants, queer families and dreamers, but the subjects above all others are race, police brutality and activism
- The sales of books about race exploded across all age groups last summer as protests over the death of George Floyd tore across the world
- In the book Woke Baby! Mahogany L. Browne writes of a race struggle that starts in the crib. ‘Woke Babies raise their fists in the air. Woke babies cry out for justice’
- Introducing narratives of very young children transitioning ‘risks destroying children for the rest of their lives,’ says Walt Heyer, author of Trans Life Survivors
- Author John Butcher says these ideologies have no place in children’s books, telling DailyMail.com, ‘All of these books are meant to drive home the message to these young children that life is about struggle’
- ‘Antiracist Baby and other books [like it] are not designed to teach basic literacy or character formation; they are designed to indoctrinate children into a specific ideology,’ Christopher Rufo tells DailyMail.com
Once upon a time it was simple. Children went to sleep on a diet of bedtime stories that grew out of folklore, depended on magic or were just enchantingly simple: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Goodnight Moon.
Not anymore, because these days bedtime is all about getting woke.
Take a glance at the shelves of the children’s department of any major bookstore.
Teach Your Dragon About Diversity, sits next to ‘Daddy & Dada’. Glance a few books along and you’ll find, Joey, not a heartwarming tale about a baby kangaroo, but an illustrated hagiography of Joe Biden written by, ‘best-selling author,’ Jill Biden.
And let’s not forget, ‘Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice,’ because what four -year-old doesn’t want to hear about the Vice President’s political rise?
There are books about transgender infants, queer families and dreamers, but the subject that dominates all others, bound up in the pages of child-friendly picture books, is race – that and a dollop of police brutality and activism.
The sales of books about race exploded across all age groups last summer as protests over the death of George Floyd tore across the world.
At the peak of the summer’s disturbances seven out of Amazon’s top ten titles and nine out of Barnes & Noble’s took on the subject of race.
On June 1, Libro.fm, a company that partners with 1,200 bookstores in the US and Canada to sell audiobooks, reported that every book on its top ten sellers list was about race and that the titles had sold 500 per cent more than on May 1.
Sales of ‘White Fragility’ by Robin Diangelo jumped by 2000 per cent. Against this sales frenzy, Penguin Young Readers tripled their print-run of Ibram X Kendi’s ‘Antiracist Baby.’ The book’s initial print run was 50,000. Seeing the swell in demand and pre-orders the company ordered an additional 100,000.
Kendi’s confrontationally titled book starts with the assertion, ‘Antiracist baby is bred, not born’ and proceeds to set down nine steps for parents eager to rear ‘accountable’ children.
Though his book is supposedly aimed at children aged 0-3, Kendi is not primarily a children’s author. He is the controversial poster boy for critical race theory and author of ‘Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,’ listed by the American Libraries Association as one of the most banned and challenged books of 2020.
Parents’ challenges to school boards in districts whose reading lists featured the book included the argument that Kendi practiced, ‘selective storytelling’ and, ‘does not encompass racism against all people.’
For his part Kendi – born Ibram Henry Rogers in Queens, the son of Methodist ministers Carol and Larry Rogers – makes no apology for preaching a discriminatory creed.
He has stated, ‘The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.’
This, according to John Butcher, Will Skillman Education Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, is the worldview that informs all Kendi’s work and has no place in the pages of children’s books.
Speaking to DailyMail.com, Butcher, whose book ‘Splintered: Critical Race Theory and The Progressive War on the Truth,’ is out in February, explained, ‘All of these books are meant to drive home the message to these young children that life is about struggle. But one of the main problems of critical race theory is what’s the ultimate objective? What are we trying to do that makes the world a better place than when we started
‘With Kendi’s work you never get to that place where there’s some sort of policy, prescription or cultural healing. And what’s significant about Kendi’s stance is that he’s saying discrimination is appropriate, right? We shouldn’t be teaching our children that discrimination has any place ever.’
What’s more, according to Butcher the notion of ‘anti-racism,’ promoted by Kendi is ‘the perfect trap.’ He said ‘Everyone’s a racist unless they’re an anti-racist, it’s not enough to say you think racism is evil, you’re a racist unless you’re an anti-racist. There’s no way out. It’s an infinite loop.’
In ‘Woke Baby!’ Mahogany L. Browne writes of a race struggle that starts in the crib. ‘Woke Babies raise their fists in the air. Woke babies cry out for justice.’
The illustrations show a black baby wearing a onesie with a panther emblem on his chest.
The text alongside them reads, ‘Look at your fists. Fingers curled into a panther’s paw pointing up up up, reaching out for justice.’
And while un-woke babies presumably just learn to crawl, ‘Woke Baby’ takes a knee (or two) and rises, ‘Up up up on each knee, bent like half-moons. Woke Baby, you are an awakened dream.’
Self-styled ‘children’s author’ Browne is the Executive Director of JustMedia an organization that purports to push for ‘Transformative Justice,’ and leans heavily on the topic of police brutality.
The organization’s website includes a ‘learning companion’ to Ava DuVernay’s controversial Netflix drama about the Central Park Five, ‘When They See Us.’
Little Heroes of Color: 50 Who Made A Big Difference sits on display in a Barnes & Noble in New York, highlighting the accomplishments of people of color
Other books on display are history lessons for toddlers, with one book about the former First Lady titled ‘I Look Up To…Michelle Obama’
The tales of progressive icons like the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are on display for the ‘woke children’s book section’ of Barnes & Noble
Books about progressive people in history are on display in the children’s section of a Barnes & Noble in New York
Former New York City prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, is currently suing over the depiction of her role in events surrounding the Central Park rape and subsequent prosecution of five young black men, and the drama has been branded willfully inaccurate and dangerous.
JustMedia’s site also provides a link to, ‘Incite! Women of Color Against Violence,’ which offers an activists’ ‘resource and toolkit’ for download. The ‘kit’ conflates ‘police brutality and other forms of law enforcement violence,’ with, ‘policing and enforcing gender and sexual conformity along with power relations based on race, class, immigration status and ability.’
Dizzying concepts for many an adult never mind a child under the age of three.
According to Sharna Olfman, a psychology professor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh the truth is that most of the messages in this new wave of children’s books will go over their target audience’s heads.
Speaking in The Atlantic she explained that very young children can empathize with others’ feelings, but it isn’t until ‘middle childhood’ – ages 5 to 11 – that they can empathize with someone’s circumstances, like coming from another country or not being able to speak a certain language fluently.
And only after the age of 11 can they grasp the finer points of a political philosophy. Until then, the chances are that any ‘learning,’ is simply, ‘parroting the perspective of the author or the parent,’ rather than understanding it.
This comes as no surprise to Christopher Rufo, Senior Fellow and Director of the Initiative on Critical Race Theory at the Manhattan Institute. Rufo points out that these are not children’s books so much as missives aimed at their virtue-signaling parents.
He told DailyMail.com, ‘Antiracist Baby and other books [like it] are not designed to teach basic literacy or character formation; they are designed to indoctrinate children into a specific ideology, using their parents as the mechanism of transmission.
‘Kendi argues that babies exhibit racial bias by six months old and become fully fledged racists by three years old. This is patently ridiculous. It should go without saying: babies are not racist. They exhibit preferences for people who physically resemble their parents, but this isn’t racism – it’s a simple and effective survival mechanism.’
According to Rufo, Kendi and Browne are ‘racial snake oil salesmen,’ encouraging Americans to ‘purge themselves of their ‘internalized racism,’ or ‘implicit bias.’
According to Sharna Olfman, a psychology professor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh the truth is that most of the messages in this new wave of children’s books will go over their target audience’s heads
Gay and Lesbian History for Kids sits on the shelves in the children’s section of a bookstore in Los Angeles
But while Olfman suggests that the messages of racial injustice and struggle will simply be lost on their young audience, Walt Heyer is adamant that introducing the notion of transgender to young children is positively harmful.
Heyer, 80, author of Trans Life Survivors, spent 8 years as a woman before de-transitioning back to a man. He lost his job, his marriage and his children in the process and now devotes his life to supporting pre-transition young people struggling with their identity as well as those who, like him, suffer the bitter regret of a mistaken transition.
For Heyer books like, ‘Call Me Max,’ by Kyle Lukoff which tells the story of a child who identifies as a transgender boy or ‘Julian is a Mermaid,’ by Jessica Love, in which Julian identifies as queer and, with his abuela’s encouragement, joins Coney Island’s famous Mermaid parade, are not only misguided, but they are also dangerous.
Love’s book is presented as a sweet tale of acceptance. But, according to Heyer, such books are not recognizing a child’s ‘truth’ so much as foisting a damaging narrative upon them.
Speaking to DailyMail.com he explained, ‘I am absolutely adamant about the fact that this is wrong. It’s psychologically, emotionally and sexually very harmful. It’s like showing a child pornography.
‘If we’re to be intellectually honest with ourselves, and there’s an absence of that in all of this, then we have to accept that no-one ever transitions from one gender to another. The only thing you can do is change your persona and so many of the young people I work with never had gender dysmorphia – they’re displaying something they’ve seen, or something their friends are doing, or they’re suffering from body dysmorphia, or were sexually abused, or have mental health issues that a clinician has failed to realize.’
‘Our Skin’ and ‘Being You’ are meant to be children’s ‘first conversation’ about gender and race, but speaking to DailyMail.com Heyer explained, ‘I am absolutely adamant about the fact that this is wrong. It’s psychologically, emotionally and sexually very harmful. It’s like showing a child pornography’
Author Anna Membrino is releasing a new children’s book in 2022 titled My Moms Love Me, an ‘ode to the magic in everyday for two mothers and their little one’
Introducing narratives of very young children transitioning ‘risks destroying children for the rest of their lives,’ says Walt Heyer, author of Trans Life Survivors
Introducing narratives of very young children transitioning ‘risks destroying children for the rest of their lives,’ Heyer said.
He has identified the source of his confusion and pain as a combination of sexual abuse at the hands of a relative and his grandmother’s habit of dressing him in a purple dress in secret when he was just four.
He said ‘I wish instead of validating me in that she had validated me in my cowboy outfit.
‘I’m almost 81 and I’m still talking about what happened to me when I was four. Who wants to live like that? I just don’t want kids to be hurt. This just messes them up. What’s wrong with saying, ‘You’re a wonderful boy?’ or ‘You’re a wonderful girl?’
‘It’s not complicated. Let’s not send them down this path.’
Both Rufo and Butcher also suggest that there is no happily ever after to these ‘woke,’ and ‘progressive’ narratives. Instead, they argue, they actively lay down foundations for problems in the years to come.
Butcher explained, ‘I don’t believe in banning ideas from classrooms and it’s not a school’s job to protect students from ideas they might find offensive or disagree with.
‘But I do believe that these ideas should be introduced at an age-appropriate time when students can be taught to question and challenge them and to see when they run contrary to America’s identity.
‘I would firmly argue that the 1619 project and Kendi’s work and Diangelo’s are inconsistent with our national creed.
‘We need to prepare students to reject the idea that discrimination has any viable place in school or culture.’
Butcher explained, ‘I don’t believe in banning ideas from classrooms and it’s not a school’s job to protect students from ideas they might find offensive or disagree with. But I do believe that these ideas should be introduced at an age-appropriate time when students can be taught to question and challenge them and to see when they run contrary to America’s identity’
The children’s department shelves heave under the weight of ‘children’s’ books that aren’t aimed at children at all, but at their wannabe-woke parents who, according to Rufo, are, ‘Seeking to cure an illness that, in many cases, does not exist’
He continued, ‘The lesson for the next generation, the one that we should be laying down, is that we fought this struggle and racism lost. Individual instances of racism should be condemned for what they are, but there should not be a presentation of a society that is irredeemable.
‘The problem with critical race theory is that it says the opposite. It says that the American dream doesn’t exist and even if it did it’s not available to everyone.
‘It says we are all tribes competing for power and the younger you teach this the more you’re setting students up to be highly sensitized in a way that we’re already seeing in university campuses where students are worried about ‘micro-aggressions’ and the concept of free speech is challenged because they view speech as ‘violence.’ All this stems from critical philosophy and the critical worldview.
‘Why set our children on this cynical path? We should be teaching them that the American dream belongs to everyone regardless of the color of your skin.’
According to Rufo, ‘The biggest myth in America is that ‘we don’t talk enough about race,’ when, if anything the opposite is true; schools, universities and the media talk endlessly about race, to the exclusion of some important topics.
‘The proliferation of books like ‘Woke Baby,’ demonstrates that…telling Americans that racism lurks everywhere.
‘Like patients with psychosomatic illnesses, many Americans want to purge themselves of their ‘internalized racism’ or ‘implicit bias.’
‘Corporations, schools and universities now spend billions on ‘diversity training’ and ‘antiracism training’ every year with abysmal results.’
And, in bookstores, the children’s department shelves heave under the weight of ‘children’s’ books that aren’t aimed at children at all, but at their wannabe-woke parents who, according to Rufo, are, ‘Seeking to cure an illness that, in many cases, does not exist.’