Bases Bloated: The Nightmare of Children’s Books
When I was a kid I was really into books. I learned to read pretty early and would voraciously devour whatever I could get my snotty little hands on. (My hands were snotty due to allergies, not because I was picking.)
My niece is turning five next month and I figured she should learn to read. She may already know how to read. I have no idea. All she talks about is Frozen or Macklemore. White people. Ugh. Anyway, in researching what to get the child who insists on ruining every game of hide and seek by telling me where to hide, I learned that children’s books are giving kids the wrong ideas about life.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
A caterpillar binge eats until he turns into a butterfly. This is sending kids the wrong message. I binge eat every day and have yet to turn into anything other than an adult with acne.
There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer
This book is fucked. I’m still haunted by this story even today. A kid is trying to sleep when a nightmare pokes its head out of the closet. The kid is terrified but for some reason invites the nightmare to cuddle up next to him in bed. There’s something very Michael Jackson about this whole scenario. Too soon?
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
There’s a poem about a girl who spends her entire life trying to eat a whale. She succeeds and then dies. Great lesson here, kids. If you put your mind to something it will eventually kill you.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
More like goodnight, OCD? Amirite? This book actually prepared me for a life of checking, ritualistic behavior and intrusive thoughts so it’s actually great for children who are predisposed to mental illness.
Matthew and the Midnight Turkeys by Allen Morgan
A bunch of wild turkeys come visit this little dude at midnight. Little dude decides he wants to eat the turkeys so he digs a hole in his backyard to trap them, letting kids know that if it’s on your property, you can legally eat it.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
A hippy bull wants to smell flowers all day then gets stung by a bee. He’s taken to a fight but gets distracted by more flowers and ignores the matador. He’s then sent back to the pasture where he was originally smelling flowers like a lazy daydreamer. The moral of this story is that hippies ruin everything.
Also, this book was banned by Hitler so it’s automatically a good read.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Speaking of Nazis, let’s get into everyone’s fave anti-Semite, Roald Dahl! This book teaches kids that if they’re bad, they will die by explosion as they are turned into a giant blueberry.
It also shows that contrary to popular belief the Jews do not control the world’s money supply because if we did, we would not have funded two movie adaptations of this book.
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
The moral of this story is that everybody dies, including old spiders.
This book taught me about feminism at a very young age. I also learned that nobody will ever spell my name right.
Me = Elisabeth
The protagonist = Elizabeth
Get your Z away from me.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A fake rabbit becomes real after a kid has scarlet fever and a doctor orders everything in the child’s room to be disinfected and burned. Fun fact: My parents borrowed this book from the Saint Laurent, Québec library to read to me in the early eighties and never returned it! Goddam thieves!
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
This book is what happens when you’re in your 20s and smoke weed and decide to make breakfast at midnight. You’re high so don’t cook your eggs properly. You’re like, the ham is kinda burnt and the eggs are green, will I die if I eat this? So you ask your roommate and they’re all like, “Yo, I would not eat this in a plane, in a train or in the rain.” And you’re like good call, let’s order pizza.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
Every kid goes into their closet after reading this and tries in vain to get to Narnia. Guess what, kids? THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS NARNIA. It’s bullshit. You know what’s in the back of your wardrobe or closet? A nightmare that wants to get into your bed.
The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier
This book is about a young Montrealer who accidentally gets a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater in the mail from Eaton’s. If you’re not Canadian, you may not understand the significance of this book so I’ll put it in terms that are more relatable.
Imagine if you’re a youngster from Boston and your mom orders a new Red Sox jersey for you. When it comes in the mail, it’s actually a Yankees jersey but your mom’s all like, “We’re poor so you will wear this and you will like it.” So you wear it to the playground and all your friends are calling you names and threatening to beat you up.
This book is also an allegory for Québec separatism and a line from the story appeared on our $5 bills until 2013 when I guess the Bank of Canada decided that the rest of the world had made enough fun of us for being obsessed with hockey.
The entire Berenstain Bears series by Stan and Jan Berenstein
Anthropomorphic bears do everything from eat too much junk food to clean up their messy bedrooms. I always imagined this family of bears lived in Winooski, Vermont because they look like they enjoy non-GMO honey.
Also, Papa and Mama Berenstain probably protested the Vietnam war and fought for equal rights. They would be big-time Bernie supporters today. Feel the Berenstain Bern!
The Kid Who Only Hit Homers by Matt Christopher
A kid sees dead people that teach him to play baseball. This book shows kids that if you’re seeing visions of dead ball players you shouldn’t tell people about it because no one will believe you. Unless it’s Ray Liotta in which case you should play catch with him because he’s your dad.
What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry
Scarry was known to re-edit his books to reflect social changes. For example, he added a menorah to a Christmas scene in one book and removed characters dressed in “cowboy” and “Indian” costumes in another.
If Scarry were alive today, he would change the title of this book to: What Do People Do All Day When They’re Unemployed Because of the Global Recession or Because They Are Copywriters Like Elisabeth Galina and Don’t Make Enough Money to Survive?