The 10 Most Horribly Depressing Children's Books
We moved when my daughter was just a year old, and in order to help prepare her for the transition my wife and I went out and got The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day. As a child I had the birth of my baby brother explained to me through the offices of the Bears, and saw no reason why I couldn't ease a different life change for my own daughter. And you're in luck because there are children's books for any situation no matter how soul-crushingly horrible it happens to be. Strap in because this is going to suck real hard.
Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: Do you remember the recovered memory movement in the '90s, where a bunch of psychologists misused hypnotherapy to convince people they had repressed incidents of abuse? The most ridiculous result of the movement was this myth that children were secretly being used in Satanic rituals, and this book shows in loving detail what signs to be on the look out for if it was, you know, true. There's naked children, hooded figures, and a nice, snide dig at sending your kids to daycare rather than being a stay at home mom included.
Is There Love After Abuse?: Lori Susewitt could use an editor, but her tale of an abused dog named Kobe that learns to love again after being abused is still worth the read even though she's not real good on the difference between "you're" and "your." Grammar aside, it's a beautiful book with tremendous illustrations by Amra, it's just that it also kind of makes you want to kill yourself afterwards.
Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept: Jayneen Sanders was worried that Australia wasn't doing enough to prepare families for the possibilities of sexual abuse, so she crafted a book that is more chilling than the time Stephen King wrote about a kid being sodomized for overdue library books. Her story shows in cold, methodical detail the way a person of power can basically collect child victims by making their parents dependent on them for employment, and makes you want to bleach your soul afterwards.
The Night Dad Went to Jail: You're probably not planning on going to jail, but I come from a family full of jail birds and none of them were planning on going any more than they planned out their robberies with any sort of sense. Going through the legal processes that results in incarceration is hard enough for an adult, but trying to explain these things to a kid is insurmountable. Melissa Higgins does pretty well for older kids, but if you try using the book to counsel a three-year-old I guarantee that he or she is just going to want to visit prison where the bunnies live.
Chased By An Elephant: The Mormon Church has made their stance on homosexuality pretty clear, so it should come as no surprise that Janice Barrett Graham, wife of Stephen Graham, President of the anti-gay organization, Standard of Liberty would pen a helpful, 100+ page book explaining proper sexual identity with some nice commentary on why you gals should not only resist your sapphic side, but also why feminism is ruining your empty little heads. Yes, it is a South Park episode come to unholy literary life, except that when South Park does something offensive and wrong it's on purpose. Oh, and Tarzan's involved for some damn reason.
Does God Love Michael's Two Daddies?: To save you the trouble of reading this book I will answer; Yes, God loves pretend gay marriages, but they're going to hell anyway. Probably Michael too because God is sort of an all or nothing fellow. If you want to make sure that your children grow up with the same vague homophobia that you blame on Jesus I can think of no better tome. Oh, and though they never come out and say it baldly, there are plenty of allusions to interracial marriages being as illegitimate in the eyes of God as same-sex ones.
On a completely unrelated side note... people who viewed this book on Amazon also viewed something called an Accoutrements Yodelling Pickle. Your guess is as good as mine, folks.
Vanna's Dance: Cambodia has the largest amputee population in the world. Know why? Because the country is rotten with land mines left over from the civil war in the 1970s. Sometimes little kids step on them, and what happens to their poor little bodies gets turned into a book by Maria Almudevar-van Santen. She's far from the only one, either. So if you're one of those people who say America is going to hell in a handbasket, just remember that your odds of stepping on a landmine tomorrow are very, very small, and try to keep some perspective.
Losing Uncle Tim: By the time I'd stumbled upon Losing Uncle Tim I'd been researching books that would explain death from a drawn-out painful illness for more than an hour because even a job where they pay you to watch Doctor Who has to have its downside. Mary Kate Jordan actually wrote a rather amazing story, and deals with the full range of emotions you go through as you say goodbye to someone who slowly dies. It doesn't make it any less heartbreaking, though.
The Liberal Clause: As I've pointed out before, it's never too early (or even very expensive) to use your young children as a repository for your own airheaded political and social beliefs. Failed Tea Party candidate David W Hedrick decided he would harness the magic of Christmas to explain exactly how Obama would steal America. Granted, this is clearly a work meant for adults who only think like children, but there is no way in all the seven hells that someone who bought this didn't try to use it to warp a kid against everything liberal by painting it as socialism. Using Christmas. Where as far as kids go everything is bequeathed to you by an invisible overlord for free.
Alfie's Home: Not to go back to the same social well, but the top spot can't belong to anything but Alfie's Home. The book was, this is not a joke, submitted as evidence on the recent Supreme Court hearings on California's Prop 8. I could understand if it was the pro-same sex marriage side doing so as proof of the complete idiocy of their opponents, but nope, a children's book was held up as honest scientific evidence.
It's written by Richard Cohen, a famed reparation therapy expert. His theory is that gays reproduce by touching children who are neglected by their fathers, thus making them gay and want to touch children in return. It's written with the same style and grace of a man trying to attempt anal sex with his sleeping wife, and has more failure of logic than FIFA 12. In addition to completely misunderstanding literally everything about same-sex relations except the fact that people of the same gender touch each other's genitals, it teaches an even worse lesson.
Uncle Pervetron? Nothing happens to him. After Alfie attends a single counseling session and realized (phew) he's not queer, his uncle apologizes and everything goes back to normal (not gay). He doesn't go to jail, and everyone apparently trusts him to keep his bad touches to himself. Parents, don't do this!
Oh, and Alfie ends up married to a woman named Nancy, which is a joke so obvious I'm not touching it because I'm afraid it's a booby trap.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events