Bad Advice: Books For The Baby Rebel

If you’ve ever been to my house, first let me say, no, that was not an anomaly. There are always that many dirty dishes. But also, you know that the entire place is full of books. I won’t say that we could build a whole second house purely out of all the books we have, but that’s mostly because I don’t want to sacrifice them for structural integrity.

a house made entirely out of books

But how are you supposed to read them?!

Inevitably, the wee leprechaun has developed his own substantial library, which is slowly spreading and taking over what used to be a relatively sizable living room. And while some of his favorites are either weird (I’m looking at you, Wolves in the Walls), or bore the pants off me (**cough** Little Engine That Could **cough**), most of them are pretty great, and some even teach some valuable lessons!

So today I thought I would share. Buckle in, folks, because I’m bringing you…

Children’s Books With Important Social Messages 


Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

By Doreen Cronin, Pictures by Betsy Lewin

This was the first book to introduce the concept of revolution for the under-5 set. Ostensibly a cute little book about a bunch of cows that find a typewriter in the barn and use it to ask the farmer for electric blankets (it gets quite cold at night), the real message here is about the power of collective bargaining. The Man may have opposable thumbs, but if enough people/farm animals band together and refuse to participate in his oligarchy, eventually the patriarchy will tumble! It’s Marxism with charming illustrations!


But Not The Hippopotamus

By Sandra Boynton

Look you guys, mental illness has been stigmatized for far too long in our culture, and it’s often hard to know how to open the conversation. Let Sandra Boynton help you, with this parable about social anxiety. The hippo just needed a little encouragement to get over her fears, and soon she too will be drinking juice with a moose and a goose!


The Cat In The Hat

By Dr. Seuss

On the topic of social anxiety, I’m pretty sure this is the book that woke that sleeping demon in me. One minute, you’re hanging out, watching the rain fall and contemplating the nothingness of the human experience, then next you’re trapped in a party gone horribly wrong, and you’re helpless to stop it. Never open your door to six feet tall cats, kids! And listen to your goldfish at all times!

I think we can all agree these are universal messages we all need to learn.

Oh, and also: Moms are terrifying, and ruin all the fun. Which is just true.



By Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Charles Vess

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always worried about accidentally going through the wrong garden gate and winding up in a fairy tale, with hidden dangers around every turn. Thanks to this book, my offspring is fucking prepared, yo. Witches? Enchanted forests? Door knockers that have a nasty tendency to bite? He’s got it covered.

(All right, I’ll admit it, I’m at most 50% sarcastic about this one. I really do read this to him with an eye for him to learn life lessons, but I’m also an English Major who took a seminar-level course on Fairy Tales, so you really shouldn’t be surprised)


Nobody Likes A Goblin

By Ben Hatke

Dude, do I really need to explain this one? Nobody likes a goblin. Duh.

Oh, and all the good guys from Dungeons and Dragons are actually terrible, and you should therefore definitely find a better way of spending your pubescent years than in the dark in someone’s mom’s basement. Kind of hoping the spawn will take that lesson away too.


Miss Rumphius

Story and Pictures by Barbara Cooney

I couldn’t resist this one, I had to include it, even though I don’t actually have anything sarcastic to say about it. It’s just my favorite, and I really and truly think the story, about a lovely woman who grows up to visit far off places, comes home to a place by the sea, and then devotes her life to making the world more beautiful is pretty spectacular. The pictures kick ass, there’s no token love interest just because she’s a girl, the heroine is an old lady, and I want to be her more than anyone else in the world.

Read this book, even if you don’t have any small humans within yelling distance. Read the shit out of it.


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