It’s not easy raising kids. It’s even more difficult if you want to raise your kids as independent, critical thinkers and not social justice warriors.
It doesn’t help that many of the so-called children’s books are not only horrible plots, but also teach children the wrong things. The version of Jack and the Beanstalk we ended up with, for instance, promotes bad economic decisions (Jack speculating on magic beans with his family’s entire net worth), trespassing (Jack snooping around the Giant’s house), and outright theft (Jack stealing the golden-egg-laying goose). It would be fine if these reckless actions were penalized in the story, but they are not as he and his mother live “happily ever after.”
It doesn’t get much better with modern stories.
There’s a lot of outcry about Thomas the Tank Engine’s fascist message and that shouldn’t be discounted with its blatant utilitarian philosophy with Sir Topham Hatt’s incessant, “Be a useful engine!” And, clearly Paw Patrol is setting kids up for the impending police state.
So, what’s a parent to do if they want to instill a love of books and liberty? Well, until I can create a children’s version of Gods of Ruin, we’re left with a short list of these excellent stories:
10. 10 Little Fingers 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox
Lesson: All humans are equal.
In this repetitive picture book, we’re taught the value of every human person through a lesson on equality. While it’s not technically correct that every human person has ten fingers and ten toes, they are all created with equal dignity and rights. This linchpin of libertarianism is conveyed in the cutest of ways with watercolor paintings of chubby babies.
9. The Crow and the Pitcher by Aesop
Lesson: You get what you work for.
The crow faces a daunting task of procuring water from a pitcher in this Aesop’s Fable, but he can’t reach it and if he knocks the pitcher over it will be gone. The crow doesn’t sit back and demand easily accessible water for crows of all shapes and call the pitcher racist. No, the crow figures out a way to raise the water by adding pebbles to the pitcher.
8. The House the Biff Built by Janet Campbell and Tom Cook
Lesson: Production requires cooperation.
Going step by step through the process of building a house from the foundation to the electrical wiring to the drywall to the carpentry, this book details the necessity of cooperation in productive enterprises. In an I, Pencil-esque explanation, we see everything that goes into building a house and how many disparate parties are involved.
7. The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Aesop
Lesson: Lying can be deadly.
Societies are built on trust and for one to operate effectively, truth must be respected. The boy who cried wolf learns this the hard way when he abuses the trust of the town’s people for a laugh. When he really needed them, no one came to his aid and his livelihood suffered.
6. The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island by Conor Boyack
Lesson: Inflation is theft.
With a clever take on real-life events conveyed in a fantastic narrative, this Tuttle Twins picture book teaches the dangers of inflation in entertaining fashion.
You’re going to love it when your child talks about the Fed as a “big mean monster”!
5. Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop
Lesson: Success depends on effort.
This quintessential Aesop’s Fable tells the story of a biologically restrained animal who challenges one with a high physical prowess and even higher cockiness. While the turtle started off with a handicap, he ended up winning by working hard. The tortoise teaches us you can’t rely on God-given ability in life, and you shouldn’t use the lack of it as an excuse either.
4. The Ant and the Grasshopper by Aesop
Lesson: You must work for what you want.
Probably the basis for Pixar’s excellent A Bug’s Life, this Aesop’s Fable recounts a lazy grasshopper who laughs at the hardworking ants storing food for the winter. When the temperatures drop, the grasshopper is at the mercy of the prepared ants.
3. The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen
Lesson: Conceit humbles the powerful.
When swindlers convince the ruler that their amazing clothes are invisible to those who are unworthy of their office, everyone in the kingdom is faced with a dilemma to lie and appear competent or tell the truth and appear a fool. No doubt inspiring the literary works of Nineteen Eighty-Four and entire political movements like the Soviet Union, this Hans Christian Andersen classic teaches the value of truth over power.
2. The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law by Conor Boyack
Lesson: Government is not always good.
The Law is Frédéric Bastiat’s concise magnum opus and Connor Boyack has made it a brilliant picture book for kids. The ideas were already easy to comprehend, but there’s genius in applying them to the average kid’s modern life. Learning about property, pirates, and plunder has never been so entertaining.
1. Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss
Lesson: Average people can topple tyrannies.
In an unsurpassed lyrical style, Dr. Seuss drops the gauntlet on greedy tyranny through his tale about turtles. Painting a clear analogous picture of the weight of authoritarianism, this cheerful story will get you thinking as it implants the message of liberty on your little one. Reflected in the fall of communism, the fall of Yertle the Turtle started with a just a geopolitical burp. The poem ends with the inspirational:
“And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free,
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.”
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