Last night, as I was forced to read a Disney Princess book for the 8,353rd time, I decided Hannah needed some library expansion. And not just any library expansion, one that was carefully selected to guide her mind away from the crap she receives out in the big wide world. Especially as she is becoming much more aware of the world around her including race and gender… and also the division of people into the “goodie” and “baddie” categories. I’ve blogged before about my delight at the book, Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, so I set out to get more conscious about what the kiddo reads/gets read.

After being subjected to blather about Princesses marrying their charming Princes and their lives being fulfilled instantly, I knew for sure that I wanted to track down “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch. Because sometimes, Princes are douches. Nothing like a little bit of early feminism.

Once I’d tracked down that book, I started googling “anarchist children’s books” and coming up with a whole lot of ideas. This thread was ever helpful and pointed me in the direction of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”.

I’d like to get my hands on many more Dr. Seuss books because of all the awesome messages in them… but this handles the environmental side of things quite nicely for now.

“The Story of Colors” by Subcomandante Marcos also seemed like a good choice, not only because it has awesome reviews for the story, but because of the politics surrounding the funding of the book and the Zapatista’s struggle for autonomy in Chiapas, Mexico. Queue boring my child to death with political discussions. Actually, I shouldn’t really dismiss her understanding of the politics of conflict. As a four year old present at a discussion about the situation in Burma, where a Green Party MP was detailing the UN process and sending half the audience to sleep, she turned toward me and asked “Why doesn’t New Zealand just tell them to stop killing people?” Wish she’d said it loud enough for the Green MP to hear. And if only our politicians had the courage, my child.

And finally, for now, Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin. Julie recommended this one and I don’t know much about it… safe to say that the undertones are of worker’s rights and anti-capitalism. I’ll be sure to rave a bit on here if it’s any good.

I’m also on a mission to track down Pippi Longstocking books. Although I may be temporarily shooting myself in the foot by regailing tales of an assertive, young, red-headed girl who questions adults’ authority, I think it’ll work out well in the long run. Right? Eeeeek.


18 thoughts on “Indoctrination

  1. When I used to babysit my 2 year old cousin, I used to make up stories to tell her.

    They almost always featured a princess, saving a prince from some kind of horrible beast, then realising she kind of fancied her ladies maid better anyway.

    Said 2 year old is now 9, and is _SUCH_ a Disney kid, it's just not funny. The only reason I know who Hannh Montana/the Jonas Bros., Selena Gomez are is because of her.

    Clearly, I needed to tell more stories.


  2. We have the version of Pippi that Sharonz mentioned. It is gorgeous!!
    Will try to remember to bring it for you to look at, def worth owning IMO.
    The Lauren Child books are pretty awesome in general. Both of my kids love her Charlie and Lola books and Ella has just discovered Clarice Bean. They're also great reading from a grown-up perspective too!
    Another good series that I have started collecting are the 'Sophie' books by Dick King-Smith.
    They're first chapter books about a little girl whose biggest aspiration in life is to be a lady-farmer. She does not approve of crying and does not get on with the pretty little girl in her class, Dawn, because she'd deliberately squashed Sophie's herd of woodlice.
    I love Sophie 😀
    They're a little bit old fashioned but that kind of adds to their charm.
    I'll stop raving now. As the mother of a girl besotted with all things Disney princess and Barbie related, anti-princess reading material is a subject close to my heart too!


  3. Well, you two have just convinced me so I bought the Lauren Child one. Eeeek. Officially spent ALL my money.

    Oh, and I also bought 'Death, Duck and the Tulip' because I LOVE that book.


  4. Yay Nikki! Did the one you got come with the illustration prints?

    Next time you want to make big book investments let me know, I have connections and can get them a bit cheaper. I'm happy to hook you up.


  5. Mel… nah, I don't think I did. The one place I found that mentioned them didn't have em in stock. And thanks! I know someone who works for a publisher too… must abuse them.

    Nova – ooo cows with guns. will look up!


  6. I got my nephew the Hairy Maclary books because they're *STILL* my favourite kids books. The night after I bought the original Hairy Maclary for him I had friends over for dinner. I mentioned I bought the book and we realised that between this six of us we could recite the entire book from memory. 'Out of the gate and off for a walk….'.

    Though of course it is for little ones.


  7. Niksta! Please don't interpret this as me be a closet anarchist! When I was a kid, the school I was at in South Auckland had The Lorax on video – I don't think I've ever read the book. It was by far my favourite video, and the concepts really got through to me on what happens when people are douches. I'm not suggesting it instead of the book, but if HanniePants loves it then perhaps a suitable choice for her next movie purchase? (You must be sick of Strawberry Shortcake by now?) xox


  8. Looooooooovvvvvvvvvveeeeeee this post. I've been subjected to the stoopid Disney princess books lately too. Three and a half years was pretty good before she cottoned on, but man am I hating it. Kind of gave in there for a while because hey, it's reading, and her grandparents gave them to her, and that's cool. But not loving the messages. Or the stories. So crap!
    Your list of books has inspired me to spend – muh ha ha ha!


  9. Oh, and I'll add my own recommendation, a book I got for Miss I at Christmas. Awesome illustrations and a really cool story about a crocodile living with ducks: Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen. One of my favourite books to read to her. I just looked it up on Amazon and one of the people leaving a review also talked about Click Clack Moo, so that's a good sign.


  10. Oh, I saw “Guji Guji” when I [re]came across “Death, Duck and the Tulip” and wanted it! I pretty much want the whole world to own a copy of DD and T – it is SUCH a gorgeous story.


  11. Beware of Dr Seuss, though … there's a gazillion pages with loads to read and it takes forever to get through it. We've been reading Horton Hatches an Egg, and Sweeney's caught on to me skipping pages in order to get through it before midnight …
    But yes, his message is always great.


  12. Can't believe how lucky I got when I recently found at my local library an awesome condition, library-style-protecta-wrapped hard cover copy of Lauren Child Pippi Longstocking for sale for FIFTY (Australian) CENTS. I cannot for the life of me figure out how it got into the 'sell eet' pile… almost sad that the library decided it was past it's used by date since there's nothing wrong with it. Library's loss, my gain though.


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