There is something deeply sinister happening in the world of children’s literature. Whereas the children’s section at your local library or bookstore was once filled with fables and fairy tales, it’s now filled with titles like The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish and Race Cars: A Children’s Book About White Privilege and How Mommas Love Their Babies featuring wholesome lines like “Some mommas dance all night long in special shoes. It’s hard work!” The illustrations accompanying that page are an outdoor shot of a strip club at night, with glowing neon lights and a woman protesting for fair wages for strippers.
This is a recent tweet from the author:
I used to do way too much cocaine in this bathroom and so of course feel compelled every time I’m peeing in it to take a selfie 🤣😬 pic.twitter.com/Hq0QgigwR2
— JUNIPER “MIDWEST NICE” FITZGERALD (@juniperfitz) November 9, 2021
Other children’s book writers, those who want to write what was once considered appropriate for kids, are stymied. One aspiring writer told me, “I’ve been in the query process the last two months and I cannot believe how many agents are requesting LGBTQ children’s books.”
Another aspiring author echoed her remarks, shedding light on the inner workings of the process, “The agents and publishers ARE the gatekeepers, making sure the books that are being published are aligned with the current agenda. If you aren’t familiar with it, check out this site. It is a summary of the twitter posts by agents and editors about their manuscript wishlists. Some are so transparent, they will state they only want LGBTQ+ stories, or demand a book set in WWI, ‘but make it queer.’ Some agents have stated they will only accept books on climate change until they have a cohort of writers defending the environment. It is deflating and concerning and frustrating, both as a teacher and as a YA historical fiction writer. The YA historicals that are being published often pervert the history to force a queer romance.”
Writers and agents know what publishers want, and it’s woke content written for young children. You might be wondering: who is buying the twenty-seven different versions of Ruth Bader Ginsburg biographies for kids? Who is showing their children books like My Mandy about a transgender parent? Why does the children’s market contain books entitled I’m Not a Girl and Santa’s Husband?
The answer: librarians and teachers. One librarian at a large public library confided in me, “I am very involved with book acquisition for the library and have contacts with many publishers. Librarianship is one of the most liberal professions. I have been thinking, and praying, for a while about what’s happening with book publishing and book buying for libraries. It’s a tidal wave of woke.”
School book fairs, stocked by Scholastic Inc., are increasingly unviable for parents as well. Back in 2015, I wrote at the Federalist about how a book published by the biggest publisher in children’s literature produced a book whitewashing the genocidal North Korean regime.
So where does this leave parents? Instead of browsing the new books section, the best and safest bet is a used bookstore with titles published before they were born.
An alternative has, thankfully, started to rob Scholastic of their stranglehold on the market and young Americans’ minds.
Heroes of Liberty is a joint Israeli-American literary startup. Initially, while searching for the best illustrations possible, the founders approached a dozen possibilities in North America. When they heard about the project and who they would be illustrating — Ronald Reagan, Thomas Sowell and Amy Coney Barrett — illustrators declined to participate. The fear of going against the grain in the children’s book publishing world was enough to convince freelancers to turn down well-paying work.
The battle for children’s minds is being fought in classrooms, at school board meetings and in publishing houses in New York City. It can feel hopeless as a parent fighting against this monster; it’s a true David and Goliath kind of fight. But Heroes of Liberty is giving parents a crucial tool to teach kids: books. By profiling heroes from our nation’s history, we are taking back children’s literature from the woke mob that currently has a stranglehold on it, and by extension, our children’s hearts.
Our objective isn’t to counter with our own right-wing propaganda. It’s to impart the values and morals of these historical and contemporary titans. We want Rush Limbaugh to teach kids to speak their minds, we want Alexander Hamilton to teach our children humility and John Wayne to teach them about masculinity and honor. These are crucial lessons that our society once valued, but have now fallen out of favor thanks to cultural elites.
Appearing last month on Ben Shapiro’s Sunday Special podcast, Bari Weiss said it best: “There’s one word that sums up how we’ve gotten to this insane impasse, and it’s cowardice. The number one ingredient that if it were present would change the outcome of all of these stories…is courage. It’s a story of cowardice and courage, the moment that we’re in.”
We want all of these heroes to teach our kids about courage, something severely lacking in our culture. We want to raise a generation of kids who will one day get a call and ask them to illustrate or write a new children’s book series about heroes of our past. And we want them to say “Where do I sign up?”