The other day I was sent an Instagram video of a little boy having story time on his mother’s lap. The little boy was precious, the time spent on his mother’s lap special, but the choice of reading material was… “woke.”
The selected story was The GayBCs by M. L. Web. “A is for Ally,” repeated the little boy, “B is for Bi, C is for Coming Out, D is for Drag.” His mother praises him after he finishes the book, asking, “Are you a ‘woke’ toddler?” Parroting her words, the little tot proudly proclaims, “I’m ‘woke.’”
Such “woke” reading selections are par for the course as educators, politicians, and society at large seek to lead children through our world’s challenges. The recent release of Renaissance Learning’s “What Kids are Reading” report underscores that educators and authors are now seeking to teach young children about “social equity issues, climate change,” and other political trends. As such, the report promotes “woke” titles like Black Brother, Black Brother, which deals with inequitable treatment people with different skin colors, and other books dealing with charged political issues such as immigration and gender identity, including Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home and Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard.
Judging by these examples, it seems the “woke” steamroller is actively coming for the next generation. But it doesn’t have to run over our children. Knowing its methodology is one of the first steps to preventing its destructive ways.
Aldous Huxley offers some insight in his 1958 title Brave New World Revisited:
Children, as might be expected, are highly susceptible to propaganda. They are ignorant of the world and its ways, and therefore completely unsuspecting. Their critical faculties are undeveloped. The youngest of them have not yet reached the age of reason and the older ones lack the experience on which their new-found rationality can effectively work.
Thus, if society can catch them young, tenderizing them through imparting “woke” ideology on racism, sexuality, and other progressive issues, then such policies are more likely to be accepted a few years down the road. This is intentional, Huxley explains, for “the dictators and the would-be dictators have been thinking about this sort of thing for years.” He goes on to say:
[M]illions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of children are in process of growing up to buy the local despot’s ideological product and, like well-trained soldiers, to respond with appropriate behavior to the trigger words implanted in those young minds by the despot’s propagandists.
Wokeness is the propaganda of the despots of our time. Children are inundated with this propaganda by way of trainings they receive at school, books they find at the library, programs they watch, and people they follow online. As Huxley says, their young and impressionable minds are as yet unable to sort through the information they receive to understand what is true and right.
As the video above shows, some parents are eager for their children to receive such propaganda. Others, however, are not.
How do those who find themselves in this latter camp proceed? Can we combat such propaganda and ensure that it doesn’t settle in our children’s minds?
It’s a challenge, but I believe it is possible.
The first thing to do is present children with a steady diet of material that runs counter to “woke” ideology. Providing your children with books which model family values, a strong work ethic, a love of country, and a traditional perspective on history is a good way to start. Drawing from Charlemagne Institute’s Great Books List, several titles for grade school, middle school, and high school students include:
1. Aesop’s Fables
2. Little House on the Prairie
3. The Door in the Wall
4. Black Ships Before Troy
5. The Swiss Family Robinson
6. Amos Fortune
1. Johnny Tremain
2. The Bronze Bow
3. Tales from Shakespeare
4. The Hiding Place
5. Little Women
6. Animal Farm
1. Great Expectations
2. The Screwtape Letters
3. To Kill a Mockingbird
4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
5. A Tale of Two Cities
6. Pride and Prejudice
A second course of action is to teach your children logic. Knowing how to present good arguments and recognize fallacies in the arguments and presentations of others is essential for those living in a world of propaganda. While teaching logic can seem a bit daunting to parents who may feel like they don’t even know it well themselves, learning logic can become almost like a game through The Fallacy Detective and its companion book, The Thinking Toolbox.
The battle against propaganda battle is difficult indeed, but fighting it is not a lost cause. It’s time we went on the counterattack for the sake of our children.
Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. When not writing or editing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and time with family and friends.