The other day I came across the a website site devoted to terrible library books libraries everywhere removed from their shelves. Of course, many of them were outdated and damaged, while others tend to be outright inappropriate to put on the shelves. Ones that particularly caught my eye were a good set of children’s book which either discussed a certain subject which I would see as inappropriate and/or completely misses the point or even gives a message that’s completely wrong and harmful to kids in general. Some people think that anyone can write a children’s book (not really) yet many of these examples tend to make me disagree as well as scratch my head thinking was it a good idea gone bad, how can this be a children’s book, and how did this ever get published.
1. Worst Children’s Book Author: Doris Sanford. Sure she writes kiddie books on serious issues only to manage to mislead as well as terrify parents and kids of all ages everywhere. Her books usually date from the 1980s or 1990s or right around the time when I was a kid. These are usually books that tend to feature a child with abusive parents who shouldn’t have kids. Yet, she seems to discuss nothing wrong with the parents’ abusive behavior unless it involves pedophilia, satanic rituals, drugs, or alcoholism, and she conveys her message badly. Also, the artwork is beyond creepy and sometimes the subject matter is rather inappropriate for children. But don’t take my word for it, perhaps see for yourself how Doris Sanford discusses issues to kids like:
Satanic ritual abuse: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/satan-for-kids/>, <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/satan-for-kids-part-2/>
Titled: Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy
Child sex abuse: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/please-dont-talk-about-it-anymore/>
Titled: I Can’t Talk About It
Teen Drug Abuse: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/please-dont-talk-about-it-anymore/>
Titled: I Can Say No
Titled: Please Come Home
Parents Having an Argument (or just plain being abusive to kids, I can’t tell which): <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/lisas-parents-fight/>
Titled: Lisa’s Parents Fight
Titled: I Know the World’s Worst Secret
After looking at these books you might want to be sick.
2. Most Unintentionally Hilarious: Well, it’s perhaps Latawnya the Naughty Horse Learns to Say “No” to Drugs by Sylvia Scott Gibson. Another children’s book with a message which does get across but it’s pretty badly written. However, this is a terrible way to teach kids not to do drugs. Yeah, the characters are all talking horses but still, the illustrations of the horses smoking and drinking, well, I don’t think any parent or child can come across them without nearly dying of laughter. Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous but falls into the “so bad, it’s good” variety. About as effective to teaching your kids not to do drugs as Reefer Madness.
Here’s a link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/partying-horses/>
3. Worst Message for Young Girls: I would say it would have to be between Maggie Goes on a Diet and My Beautiful Mommy. Both books are certainly geared to young girls and convey terrible messages about physical appearance and your time be much better spent if you and your daughter watch The Little Mermaid or Snow White. The former is about a teenage girl with a weight issue who ends up improving her life after she went on a diet and lost weight (such as improving her soccer game, grades, and suddenly being popular and attractive to boys). Look, in a climate of high obesity rates, I understand how important it is for a child to lose weight since we all know the health risks like diabetes, heart disease, back pain, and early death. We should encourage our kids to lose weight or go on a diet but it should be discussed as health issue and should only be done for health reasons. Also, exercise should be in equation as well. This book doesn’t discuss it as such and presents a diet as a cure for negative body image and poor self-esteem. Losing weight might improve self-esteem but it’s not going to quite make you popular, desirable to boys, or better at school. The latter is about a girl whose mother has plastic surgery (like a tummy tuck and a nose job) which is discussed in glowing terms even though there’s absolutely no reason to have it. She looks fine. I mean this is the mother being insecure about her own looks and aging, especially weight gain, which is normal for anyone who’s at least 30. If there should be a book about mommy getting plastic surgery, then perhaps put her in a disfiguring accident for God’s sake and discuss how cosmetic restorative surgery helped her get her life back together. Still, both these books teach girls that appearances matter and if your unhappy about your own physical appearance, you should change it, which will make everything better. What a load of crap. Oh, and their both written by guys, one a plastic surgeon in Miami.
Link to Maggie Goes on a Diet: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/you-are-never-too-young-to-think-about-going-on-a-diet/>
Link to My Beautiful Mommy: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/mommy-needs-to-get-pretty/>
4. Most Scary Subject Matter: Why, Nobody Wants a Nuclear War by Judith Vigna. Of course, there is no perfect way to talk to our kids about scary subjects, especially the concept of nuclear warfare prone to obliterate everyone practically in it’s path. Heck, it’s a scary subject for adults. Still, even worse, this was written in 1986. 1960 might have been better since the Cuban Missile Crisis happened around 1962. Read this to your kid as a bedtime story and you will be sure he or she will have nightmares.
5. Worst Children’s Book Ever: I would have to say the honor has to go to a book called Alfie’s Home by Richard Cohen which is probably a great candidate for perhaps the worst kiddie book I ever came across. There are just so many things wrong with it that I would never recommend adults even to read it. Yeah, it’s incredibly fucked up and beyond terrible. For one, the book’s subject is about homosexuality with it’s message that it’s not okay. And of course, this is probably intended for Conservative Christian Evangelicals in the Bible Belt as well as Ex-Gay ministries everywhere. Second, it’s about a boy who questions his sexuality since his dad’s constantly working, his parents fight all the time, and his creepy uncle is sexually abusing him. Third, there’s actually a scene with the boy and his uncle in bed together and it’s implied that they are doing naughty things. Not to mention, there are pretty creepy parent diagrams later. Seriously, who shows child molestation in a children’s book, honestly? And to make things worse, the school guidance counselor attributes the kid question his sexuality because his dad’s not spending enough time with him or his mother. So the parents go to marriage counseling, the uncle gets some undefined help, Alfie spends more time with his dad, and later you see Alfie all grown up and with a wife and kids who’s not gay anymore. Really? Not only does this book portray homosexuality inaccurately, but considering what is happening in Alfie’s life, his sexual orientation is perhaps the least of his problems. Also, being a child of sex abuse can screw someone up for life. God what an awful fucked up book. Must’ve been published by a Christian publishing company in Texas or some other Southern state.
And here’s another review: <http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/blogs/latest/entry/the-worst-childrens-book-ever-alfies-home>
6. Most Cringe Worthy Cover: Todd and the Talking Pinata Talk Sacrifice, though the story is not bad and it’s actually not the Talking Pinata that gets sacrificed, you have to wonder. Also, Talking Pinata and baseball bat? That could get ugly. Still, pretty weird.
7. Worst Excuse for a PSA: If People Were Perfect, which is an e-book from KeepYourChildSafe.org, which is to address sexual abuse and prevention. Still, it doesn’t seem to prevent kids with being traumatized, especially with those creepy illustrations. Not to mention, it’s an e-book. Also, they have another one called The Day My House Catched Fires (honestly, believe me).
8. Worst Use in Photography: The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright. May seem like a cute idea at the time like in 1957, but by today’s standards it’s sure as hell creepy and willing to traumatize your kids into nightmaredom as we know it. Also, the doll gets spanked by a teddy bear. Jesus Christ.
9. Worst Retelling: The Magic Nutcracker which is kind of a creepy story catered to young girls since it’s made into a ballet, Yet, these pictures are oh, so creepy. Then again, many fairy tales tend to be creepy in general. This will make your children cringe around Christmas time. Also, pretty badly written.