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Untold Story: Children’s Books

Young adult literature has become more “lurid, grotesque, profane, sexual, and ugly” in recent years, Meghan Cox Gurdon [1], a children’s book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, said in a college lecture recently.

“Let me give you three examples—but with a warning that some of what you’re about to hear is not appropriate for younger listeners,” she told the crowd. Indeed, an earlier generation of young adults would have been sent out of the room to keep from listening to the exemplary young adult literature Gurdon highlighted:

Instead of helping teenagers overcome their self-centered and short-term perspective normally, authors and narrators focus on prolonging the “now, now, now” and self-centered teen perspective for material gain, Gurdon said in a talk that she gave earlier this year at the conservative Hillsdale College.

Some critics accused her of creating “a culture of fear” in young adult literature when she was making a point about publisher’s discouraging and demeaning taste in literature. Gurdon acknowledged that publishers say “kids have a right to read whatever they want,” which leads to the sketchy rhetoric of how adults should now not be gatekeepers or filters of what children read. This progressive rhetoric further elaborates on this ideology to say “Young people should encounter material that jolts them out of their comfort zone; that the world is a tough place; that there’s no point shielding children from reality.”

But, the damning evidence is how the Left “agree[s] that books influence children and prefer some books to others” and “children’s literature was an excellent means of putting left-wing ideas into young minds.” Gurdon made an important point about literature when she said the following:

“Books don’t just cater to tastes. They form tastes. They create norms.”


Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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