by Laura Huggins
Here’s what not to buy for your kids: books like Where Does the Garbage Go?, Oil Spill!, and What’s So Bad About Gasoline?
As PERC fellow Andy Morriss writes in this essay on eco-propaganda for kids, “If these books are what kids grow up with today, we should hope they spend their time on video games instead of reading.” The books are troubling, according to Morriss, because by “ignoring economics and by focusing on eco-politics, they get the solutions to environmental problems wrong.”
Furthermore, as PERC’s Holly Fretwell discusses in PERC Reports, many green-themed children’s book, including classroom textbooks, are influenced “by an ideological view that presents human beings as evil.” The patriarch of the vogue green books is Carl Hiaasen, the author of Hoot and Scat. In Hiaasen’s books children are asked to sympathize with environmentalists who thwart businessmen, even when the good guys take destructive measures such as sinking boats. Good nature, bad capitalist is always the theme.
Finally, as Morriss points out:
The vision of the world these books present lacks human agency as anything other than motivating the mindless consumption that leads to ecological catastrophes. Not only is this a world missing entrepreneurs and inventors, there’s also no excitement to its vision of the future. Although I am still waiting for my personal jetpack, the world of the The Jetsons promised a future of excitement and fun rather than a grim time in which we merely replace our cars with hybrids. The optimism that prompted Julian Simon to term humanity “the ultimate resource” is missing from this literature.
So much for picture book classics like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel or The Little Engine that Could.