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Old 05-02-2005, 01:20 PM
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Do you know any propaganda children's books?


Books written to indoctrinate children into some non-instinctive worldview.
While buying books for our kids I have found two--one is called "Bread and Dew", a collection of illustrated stories from communist Moldova in which children learn about how great life is with communism. (e.g. two boys attempt to have the reddest red flag of communism, a boy finds out how nice state-run health care is, a boy inspires everyone in his government-built concrete high-rise neighborhood by planting a poplar tree, a boy savors the sweet taste of wet pesticides on his breakfast bread after the cropduster flies over, etc.) Published in English in 1983. The other book is called "Miriam lives in a kibbutz", about a 5-year-old girl whose family has just moved to a kibbutz and hates living in the children's house, apart from her mother and father, until somehow she surrenders at the end of the story.

Both books are fascinating and weird--a glimpse into a world of fake emotions and labored explanations. Has anyone else found children's books like this?
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:33 PM
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Oh dammit. There's a german children's book from the 30s about how the Jews are evil. Very Dick and Jane.
For the life of me I can't remember the name. I read it in college while studying art and literture of the 3rd Reich.
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:37 PM
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How 'bout "Heather Has Two Mommies"?
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:42 PM
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While I never actually read them, the Krogers that I worked at for two summers had a stand of frightening looking picture books. One of them, for instance, was titled God Made Dinosaurs, and the cover illustration showed a brontosaurus walking through a park while a smiling scientist looks at his feet with a magnifying glass.
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Old 05-02-2005, 02:39 PM
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Not a book, but...

Several years ago my block organized a neighborhood watch, due to the rising crime in the area. We decided that occasional block activities would galvanize the neighborhood as well as send a "no thank you" message to would-be criminals. So we organized a block party. BBQed foods, friendly visits from a local friendly cop, games, and a puppet show. Ah, yes, the puppet show. The big event for the neighborhood kids. Marina the Good Neighbor was going to give a puppet show, and it promised to be a doozie!

The smell of freshly cut grass was in our ears, the sound of BBQing meats was in our nostrils, and the sight of anticipation hung heavy in our septums. The curtain was about to go up! "Puppet show!, Puppet show!", we mused. "The great puppet show is about to begin!" Nothing could distract us from this spectacular. "Puppet show! The great puppet show is abou... Hey, burgers! Great!"

Small children were gathered around the stage. Cleverly, it was decorated in such a way as to make it look just like a plain cardboard box with a side cut out. Then on came the puppet. A hand puppet? Nope. A marionette? Nein. A ventrioquist's dummy? Nyet. In a patriotic display of Eastern European minimalism, Marina decided to go with the hand-held Raggedy Ann doll.

Then the narration began:

"This is Anika. Anika very sad. She is crying. Why Anika is crying? Because she is in the prison. Did she steal? No. Did she kill? No. She was arrested by corrupt Slobovian government for speaking mind. Government is corrupt! Give Anika amnesty! Anika not die in prison! Topple government! Revolution now!"

The children began to cry. The adults gave each other knowing glances that confirmed what we were all thinking: "Th' fuh?"

That night we all went to bed (not together) knowing that mid-Summer block parties just don't get any better than that.
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Old 05-02-2005, 02:42 PM
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I'd nominate "My First Bible" and similar religious primers, myself.

Not to mention The O'Reiley Factor For Kids, loaded with eyebrow-raising advice like "chicks dig a man in a white shirt and jeans," and ''The more polite you are, the more responsive the other person will be''.
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Old 05-02-2005, 02:48 PM
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The Chronicles of Narnia?
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Old 05-02-2005, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by tdn
The children began to cry. The adults gave each other knowing glances that confirmed what we were all thinking: "Th' fuh?"
I love this! Actually, I have been afraid to read "Bread and Dew" and "Miriam lives in a kibbutz" to our kids. They could turn into socialist believers, or develop a joyless cynical sense of humor, or burst into tears, or who knows?

Why risk it.
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:02 PM
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My grandmother gave me all sorts of Christian propaganda books. My mom got rid of the worst ones while no one was looking, like the one explaining how the earth was only however many years old and dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans, but I distinctly remember one that had drawings of people burning in hell, which traumatized me terribly.
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:08 PM
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I'm the very proud owner of a "Teenage Mutant Nija Turtles Clean up Boston Harbor" coloring book!
"Totally uncool. This is what happens when people are careless."
"..all this gnarly trash and stuff will end up in the ocean. Some of it on Boston Harbor beaches. Gross."
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Push You Down
Oh dammit. There's a german children's book from the 30s about how the Jews are evil. Very Dick and Jane.
For the life of me I can't remember the name. I read it in college while studying art and literture of the 3rd Reich.
Is it The Poisonous Mushroom? I saw a copy at the Holocaust Museum in DC. Nice cover, eh?
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:42 PM
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How about The O'Reilly Factor for Kids?
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:43 PM
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Damn you, rjung! Damn you for beating me!
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:51 PM
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I used to read a book to my daughter about a gay caveman who was ostracised from the tribe for being sensetive and artistic. I don't remember the name and the lesson was benign so I had no problem reading it to her. I remember, though, thinking it read very much like propaganda.
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Old 05-02-2005, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ErinPuff
My grandmother gave me all sorts of Christian propaganda books. My mom got rid of the worst ones while no one was looking, like the one explaining how the earth was only however many years old and dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans, but I distinctly remember one that had drawings of people burning in hell, which traumatized me terribly.
My aunt gave me a book about Christianity containing the following arguments:
* The Bible talks about fishermen catching fish with nets.
* You can still see fishermen catching fish with nets today.
* Therefore, you can tell from this evidence that everything else in the Bible is true.

Also:
* Many cultures have stories about floods.
* Therefore, the story of Noah's Ark is true.

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Old 05-02-2005, 04:25 PM
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I was traumatized as a small child in the 1970s when my mom ... uh, got a little enthusiastic about NOW, and for a while, I was only allowed to read Stories for Free Children. X, a shrill feminist missive about a child whose sex/gender is unknown, made me cry.

Fortunately for me, Mom relented fairly quickly and I was able to return to my sexist, misogynistic children's books before my taste in literature was completely spoiled.
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Old 05-02-2005, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Push You Down
Oh dammit. There's a german children's book from the 30s about how the Jews are evil. Very Dick and Jane.
For the life of me I can't remember the name. I read it in college while studying art and literture of the 3rd Reich.
Trust No Fox?

Is that the one you had in mind?
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Old 05-02-2005, 04:59 PM
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The Berenstein Bears declare Christianity to be the one true religion


It was almost surreal - I mean I enjoyed the Berenstein bears, but woah, I never expected this!

a brief synopsis: Sister Bear wonders where bears/the planet/etc came from. She goes to Papa Bear. Papa Bear gives a scientific explanation. Sister Bear gets confused because science is icky. Sister Bear goes to Mother Bear, who tells Sister Bear about religion, but Sister Bear is still confused because Mama Bear is not trained as a preacher. Mama Bear takes Sister Bear to church. Sister Bear is no longer confused.

To be fair, it doesn't really specify that Christianity is the religion is involved, but it's pretty clear it's a Judeo-Christian one. The reviews have responses from angry agnostics and athiests, and pleased Christians.
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Old 05-02-2005, 05:42 PM
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There was a story booklet called "Who Wants to be a Prairie Dog" that was published, in 1948, by the Department of the Interior to be used in teaching Dineh children on the reservations. The premise was that little Indian children who were lazy and preferred herding their family's sheep to going to school, would drop down into prairie dog holes, and become prairie dogs. An interesting aside was that the children that were illustrated in the book wore short hair and "White" clothing, BUT when they turned into prairie dogs, they all wore Dineh clothing and acted "like Injuns".
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Old 05-02-2005, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Torque
Is it The Poisonous Mushroom? I saw a copy at the Holocaust Museum in DC. Nice cover, eh?
That thing looks like a MAD magazine story! The one where a Russian returns to his homeland after visiting the capitilistic Americanskis.
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Old 05-02-2005, 06:28 PM
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Well, pretty much all children's books are propaganda of some sort or other; whether to get them to eat their beets, or kill infidels, there's always some sort of angle.

"Propaganda" being, in my opinion, any media used to elicit a response from the receiver, either to think a certain way, or to move the receiver to action of some type.

I think I have an excellent example for the OP: in 1941, a children's book was published by Faber & Faber in the UK, and by Harcourt House in the USA, called "My Sister and I: The Diary of a Dutch Boy Refugee."

It was a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic, and was purportedly the real diary entry of a young boy, fleeing the Nazi war machine with his little sister, their mother killed in the bombing of Rotterdam.

In fact, the thing was created out of whole cloth by British propagandists, designed to help sway US public opinion towards intervention (and both sets of publishers knew this at the time).

An excellent article on the best-selling fake: http://www2.rnw.nl/rnw/en/features/d...ature/041215dh
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Old 05-02-2005, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
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Well, pretty much all children's books are propaganda of some sort or other; whether to get them to eat their beets, or kill infidels, there's always some sort of angle.
Not quite all . . . http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846

And here's one that could be characterized as "propaganda" but I don't see how anyone of any political stripe could find anything objectionable in it: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...706166-9317606
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Old 05-02-2005, 06:41 PM
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Trust No Fox?

Is that the one you had in mind?

I think that's it.
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:29 PM
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I used to read a book to my daughter about a gay caveman who was ostracised from the tribe for being sensetive and artistic. I don't remember the name and the lesson was benign so I had no problem reading it to her. I remember, though, thinking it read very much like propaganda.
Was it Mik's Mammoth ? If I remember right, he was not so much a gay caveman as a non-competitive, pacifist, vegan, artistic caveman. At the end of the book, all the fierce meat-eating cavemen see how righteous Mik is and follow his example.

Wonderfully bizarre for me, confusing and annoying for my kids.
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Old 05-02-2005, 09:15 PM
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How about The Lorax or Yertle the Turtle?

Many of those books have political implications.
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Old 05-02-2005, 09:18 PM
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How about The Lorax or Yertle the Turtle?

Many of those books have political implications.
And the Butter Battle Book, Sneetches and Other Stories, and Horton Hears a Who -- all about the folly of war, prejudice and narrowmindedness.
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Old 05-02-2005, 09:51 PM
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I recall my parents getting some Mickey Mouse book from the library when I was a kid. Mickey Mouse was a postman and some guys with beards gave him a package to deliver to "Mr. Rich Guy." Mickey noticed that the package was ticking, so he threw it over a fence--blasting the two evil reds who had tried to mail the package in the first place. "I knew they were reds because of their beards," Mickey announced, as he was rewarded for saving Mr. Rich Guy.

We had a laugh riot over that one. .
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Old 05-02-2005, 09:52 PM
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When my sister and I were little and we got sick, Mom had to take us to work with her when she ran out of sick days. Mom, the ultra-Reform Jew with dashes of Buddhist and New Age sensibilities, back then ran an emergency social services referral program at Salvation Army. (That place could have been a sitcom - her other co-workers were a crusty Guatemalan herbalist who was about 4' tall, a hard-bitten on the outside but sweet on the inside Puerto Rican lady from the Bronx, a tall, crusty Jewish unreformed hardcore Trotskyite, a very mild-mannered Mennonite from a nearby quasi-commune, and a stunning, tall, deep-voiced transvestite who used to wear gorgeous silk dresses and pumps to work, thus outdressing all the biological women. But I digress.)

To pass the time in the recreation room, my sister and I would read anything we could find. What we found, mostly, were stacks of old comic books, featuring Johnny Cash, both as an alcoholic and then afterward, when he found God and dried out. I had no idea who Johnny Cash was at the time, but in retrospect those things were hilarious.
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Old 05-02-2005, 11:00 PM
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I was traumatized as a small child in the 1970s when my mom ... uh, got a little enthusiastic about NOW, and for a while, I was only allowed to read Stories for Free Children. X, a shrill feminist missive about a child whose sex/gender is unknown, made me cry.
It wasn't unknown. It was an X. I still like A Baby Named X. I also like The Princess Who Stood On Her Own Two Feet.

Re The Berenstein Bears. I could have sworn that they were Jewish. I'm sure that I've seen books with them celebrating the Jewish holidays. I am positive ( I even remember some of the songs) that rather than a Christmas special, their 70 something cartoon was a Thanksgiving special.
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Old 05-02-2005, 11:26 PM
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When I was a child in the 1940's, one of my favorite Little Golden Books was one called "Tootle." It was about a little engine that liked to leave the tracks and romp in the fields. By the end of the story Tootle had learned to stay on the tracks no matter what. (It never bothered me that the part I liked best was the frolicking and not the moral to the story.)

When I was a freshman in college, an essay in my English 101 text pointed out how this story tried to teach conformity.
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Old 05-03-2005, 12:02 AM
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As can be seen with a glance at this list of titles, Munro Leaf produced many propagandistic works. Let's Do Better (1945), which I discovered courtesy of a copy my mother had owned as a child, issued an appeal to young readers to avoid remaking the mistakes which had plunged the globe into the then still-omgoing World War II.

Hoping to downplay his radicalism and convince the "powers that were" of his status as a "good American", Langston Hughes produced The First Book of Negroes. This 1952 volume discussed slavery and sports figures, but also featured a mundane fictional story about a boy who went with some relatives to eat in a New York City restaurant. The vignette could have just as easily been written about people of any race(s), which was undoubtedly Hughes's point. I wonder how many white kids (and parents) of that era read the story and realized for the first time that Negroes were basically just human beings...
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:02 AM
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by leroy_the_mule
Books written to indoctrinate children into some non-instinctive worldview.
I do see what your getting at with the OP and see that many excellent examples hav e been given.

But your first sentence provokes the question "What is an instinctive worldview?"
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:54 AM
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Well, there's always The Little Golden Book....OF ZOG!!!!
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Old 05-03-2005, 02:08 AM
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But your first sentence provokes the question "What is an instinctive worldview?"
Hmmm...maybe "Pick nits from fur good; fire baaad"?
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:10 AM
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George Orwell in Boys' Weeklies, an excellent essay on the propaganda inherent in the world view of 1930's English comics, wrote: "I remember in 1920 or 1921 some optimistic person handing around Communist tracts among a crowd of public-school boys. The tract I received was of the question-and-answer kind:

Q. 'Can a Boy Communist be a Boy Scout, Comrade?'

A. 'No, Comrade.'

Q. 'Why not, Comrade?'

A. 'Because, Comrade, a Boy Scout must salute the Union Jack, which is the symbol of tyranny and oppression.' Etc., etc."


Personally, I've always had my doubts about Lord Of The Rings, given that the heroes are either stoutly bucolic Englishmen {Hobbits}, Frenchmen {Elves}, Germans {Dwarves} and Americans {Humans, and Nordic ones at that}.

The whole thing is quite clearly an allegory for the Cold War, with the heroes allied against the Communist threat from the East and South, as personified by Sauron {compare The Lidless Eye with "Big Brother Is Watching You"} who is assisted in his quest for world domination by his dark-skinned minions the Orcs, who only seek to butcher and enslave.

The only humans from those Godless parts are the faceless Easterlings and Southrons, the Oriental and African automaton hordes who merely serve as sword and arrow fodder for the good guys.

After Sauron's tyranny is overthrown, the Third Age, or Old Europe, begins to dwindle and vanish as Middlearth enters the New World Order of the Fourth Age, with humans as the new bulwark of freedom and democracy: a clear propagandistic longing for a post-WWII American hegemony.
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:11 AM
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It wasn't unknown. It was an X. I still like A Baby Named X. I also like The Princess Who Stood On Her Own Two Feet.
I could be remembering this wrong, but I thought that the family knew whether the baby was a boy or a girl, but no one else was allowed to know. I'm trying to remember what about it creeped me out so much as a child, I think it was the idea that the parents deferred to a mysterious team of scientists who seemed to be calling all the shots.
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:47 AM
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Jack Chick deserves a nod here. Hell, he deserves a whole brass band!
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Old 05-03-2005, 08:10 AM
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Remember the pamphlet that mothers used to give to their pre-teen daughters about what a wonderful thing mestruation was? Hah!
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:12 PM
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Delphica You remembered right. The parents agree to keep the child's sex a secret and raise it gender neutral. The story is all over the web. Like here for instance.

Re People

I'd say that People definitely teaches children a non-instinctive worldview. Our instinct is to fear and hate people who are different from the ones we grow up around.

Case Sensitive considering that many people have seriously claimed that LOTR is an allegory for World War 1 or 2, I don't know whether you're being serious or just giving a fine example of dry sarcasm. For those who haven't read the many Tolkien threads, he repeatedly and strongly denied any allegory about the wars, politics, or the industrial revolution. The images of the books are from Teutonic mythology and folklore (Gandalf, with his blue hat, grey clothes, hairstyle, and vast knowledge would be a ringer for Odin/Wotan if only he was missing an eye. The cursed ring, a dragon's horde, and a son who has nonhuman smiths reforge his father's broken sword are all from the tale of Sigurd and Sigfreid) . The themes and lessons of the book are Christian (Vanity and pride lead to corruption. Even the righteous cannot defeat Satan without God's grace. etc)

Back To The OP
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:48 PM
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This might not be strictly propaganda, but it's definitely trying to put kids in a certain mind frame.

When my parents first moved to Germany, a neighbor gave my mom a book called Der Struwwelpeter (I still have it). The neighbor said it was required reading for anyone with kids. It was written in 1844. The first english translation was done by Mark Twain.

The basic moral of all the stories is "Do what your parents tell you or horrible things will happen to you!". The children in the book all die or get horribly disfigured.

My favorite has always been "The Story of the Thumbsucker".
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Old 05-03-2005, 02:29 PM
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Mein Hund Klauss I've heard that Struwwlepeter was actually made as a parody of children's books at the time. I've never seen any proof one way or the other. If I recall correctly, the author's hometown has statues of the characters. I imagine the children there have some interesting nightmares.
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Old 05-03-2005, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by My_Dog_Klaus
This might not be strictly propaganda, but it's definitely trying to put kids in a certain mind frame.

When my parents first moved to Germany, a neighbor gave my mom a book called Der Struwwelpeter (I still have it). The neighbor said it was required reading for anyone with kids. It was written in 1844. The first english translation was done by Mark Twain.

The basic moral of all the stories is "Do what your parents tell you or horrible things will happen to you!". The children in the book all die or get horribly disfigured.

My favorite has always been "The Story of the Thumbsucker".
You should see some of the children's stories from the Georgian period. They're almost all about how good behavior leads to riches, while bad behavior invariably ends in a horrible death. The Victorians went one better and defined good vs. bad in more religious terms; only later in the period did things get calmed down a bit, so that pretty minor sins wouldn't lead directly to the grave. We just don't read those books any more.

The only propagandistic book I can think of is my Rudyard Kipling's pocket history of England, which is really something. It has a lot to say about what a great thing the Norman Invasion was, since the Saxons had strengths and weaknesses that were complimented by the Normans, thus producing the wonderful English race. And so on.
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Old 05-03-2005, 05:46 PM
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Case Sensitive considering that many people have seriously claimed that LOTR is an allegory for World War 1 or 2, I don't know whether you're being serious or just giving a fine example of dry sarcasm.
A little from Column A, a little from Column B: I don't really believe it, but I think there are enough parallels, despite Tolkien's repudiation of allegory, that you could have fun arguing the point.
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Old 05-03-2005, 06:43 PM
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When I was in my latish teens, I stumbled upon a book called Arrows of the Queen in the Young Readers section of the library. It was a fantasy novel geared towards the middle school set, set in a quasi-medieval milieu. The whole point of the book seemed to be "traditional marriage/family bad, homosexuality and premarital sex (for twelve and thirteen-year-olds ) good." Now, at the time, being quite morally liberal, I thought that these ideas were all well and good, but I was so offended by the blatant propaganda that I didn't bother with the two sequels. Even at age twelve, I think I could have easily seen through the thin veneer of "story", which was poorly written, to the blatant political message.
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Old 05-04-2005, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by tiltypig
The Chronicles of Narnia?
Boy was I pissed when I found out what that series was really about.
  #47  
Old 05-04-2005, 11:14 AM
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My favorite for a long time has been James Clavell's The Children's Story. I suppose you could call it anti-propaganda propaganda for children


re: The Story of X
Quote:
a shrill feminist missive about a child whose sex/gender is unknown
Aww, c'mon, it was hardly a humorless strident feminist polemic. It was cute and light-hearted and playful. It was an xperiment that cost xactly 23 billion dollars and 72 cents. And it made lots of points about how discomfited people get when they don't know the sex of the person they're dealing with (a subject to which Saturday Night Live turned for amusements years later with "Pat").
  #48  
Old 03-26-2020, 06:50 AM
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Hey, when the above spam is deleted, how about leaving the thread bumped? New examples would be interesting.
  #49  
Old 03-26-2020, 07:11 AM
Ulfreida is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodd Hill View Post
(snip)

"Propaganda" being, in my opinion, any media used to elicit a response from the receiver, either to think a certain way, or to move the receiver to action of some type.

(/snip)
Sounds like the word you are looking for is "literature".

Goodnight Moon?
Where the Wild Things Are?
  #50  
Old 03-26-2020, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocCathode View Post
Re The Berenstein Bears. I could have sworn that they were Jewish. I'm sure that I've seen books with them celebrating the Jewish holidays. I am positive ( I even remember some of the songs) that rather than a Christmas special, their 70 something cartoon was a Thanksgiving special.
Well, the original authors were Stan and Jan Berenstain (not "stein", a very common mistake), the namesakes and models for the fictional anthropomorphic ursines. Stan was Jewish and Jan was Christian. Some time in the 2000s (aughts) they passed the franchise on to their son, who I suppose is the one taking it in an overtly religious direction.
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