Titles published from the Little Golden Book are a common staple to find among the shelves of most households sportin’ young children. Having started in the early 1940’s – and an instant hit on the market – people of all ages (in the U.S anyway) likely recall having read at least a few books in the Little Golden Book series, in their day. The one I’m holding in the pic above, was loaned to me by the 5-year-old I nanny for. He wanted me to borrow it for a few days, which I immediately saw as a great act of generosity, as not only is this book new to him but he LOVES Star Wars. So wanting me to borrow this book was on par with a kid – any kid – offering to share their candy. Wanting to support his kindness, I gratefully agreed to take it home.
I made sure to read it, of course. I mean, I have to be prepared should he ask me what my favorite part was. It’s also simply not kosher to borrow a book a 5-year-old insists on you taking and then not read the darn thing. That’s just not cool.
So…the thing is, this so-called “kids” book, is chockablock with violence and drama. There is a weapon, bad guy, and/or an explosion on every single page. Here are the trigger words peppered in:
Page 1/2: war, evil, captured, gangster
Page 3/4: capturing, captures, dungeon, attacks, crushes
Page 5/6: punish, sand monster, fight, henchmen, KA-BOOM!, explodes
Page 7/8: evil, battle, destroy, Dark Side, X-wing fighter
Page 9/10: destroy, Death Star, attack, strike team
Page 11/12: (has bad guys, weapons, and explosive action picture but no trigger words)
Page 13/14: strike team, captured, fight
Page 15/16: attack, Death Star, destroy, enemies, traps, destroy, Death Star
Page 17/18: Death Star, rage, dark side, fight, duel
Page 19/20: battle, destroyed, evil, Zzzaap!, Death Star, destroyed
Page 21/22: battle, TIE fighters, Death Star, BOOM!, collapse, Death Star, explodes
Page 23: evil, roars
And here are the sentences that especially stood out to me:
“To punish Luke and his friends, Jabba will feed them to the Sarlacc, a sand monster. It will digest them for a thousand years!”
“He shocks Luke with evil Force lightning from his fingers. Zzzaap!”
“With the last of his strength, he rises up and heaves the Emperor into a deep reactor shaft!”
What the heck Little Golden Book?! Did you guys actually write: heaves the Emperor into a deep reactor shaft?
Is it just me that finds the above trigger words and associating violence and drama on every page alarming? Did I mention Little Golden Books aim to target kids ages 5 and under?
I was faced with a disconcerting reality, when I took the time to write out each page’s trigger words, as I’m choosing to call them. The reality of how early we bombard our children with violence and drama, under incredibly powerful pretenses of entertainment and excitement. Worse yet, the characters are clad in cartoon fashion and Star Wars is an embedded classic in our culture. Gadzukes.
What message is a young child expected to take away from such a book? Violence is fine as long as you’re fighting against evil dudes?
I’m 39-years-old, and even I was left feeling stressed out when I finished this book.
I’ve been working with young children for almost 20 years, in a variety of settings. I can’t tell you how often I’ve come across books that were designed for kids that had content I found either mildly or wildly inappropriate, overly adult, offensive, or downright harmful – and sometimes even traumatic in nature. And many of them are classics or mainstream books.
As parents, family members, friends, or caretakers of young children, we have an important responsibility that we should not take lightly. The responsibility of taking good loving care of the tender, growing minds and hearts in our midst. There is no such thing as an insignificant moment. Let us pay closer attention to what books we’re choosing for our kids. Every book creates an impact of some kind. Let us do our best to ensure that the impact is helpful, skillful, and kind.