Libertarian Children’s Books

During yesterday’s discussion of my dislike of The Giving Tree, we got to discussing The Rainbow Fish. siliconchef pointed out Starboortz Fish, a libertarian re-telling of The Rainbow Fish in which a starfish has to earn the respect of others.

That got me to thinking. There aren’t really any libertarian children’s books I know of, at least not picture books. Rather than write entirely new ones to fill that void, what if we re-purposed existing books, but gave them a shiny new coat of libertarian paint?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the best libertarian children’s books.

Where the Free Beings Are, by Maurice Sendak

A downbeat allegory of how Americans are conditioned to be uncomfortable with freedom. Max escapes from an all-encompassing nanny state and sails to a land where his individual gifts are recognized and everyone is free. Over time Max finds this freedom disconcerting, and returns home where his government dole is waiting for him in the form of dinner.

Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems

A brave pigeon struggles against the oppressive governmental agency that would deny him a bus driver’s license.

Puff the Magic Dragon, by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton, and Eric Puybaret

Legalization of marijuana leads to little Jackie Paper growing up in a laissez-faire utopia called Honnalee.

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton

Facing stiff competition from more modern diesel-powered shovels, Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne win a contract by promising to dig the basement of a town hall in one day. They do so, but forget to leave a ramp for Mary Anne to drive back out. Undaunted, Mike takes his substantial bonus for a job well done and enhances his competitiveness in a global market by buying a diesel-powered shovel, leaving Mary Anne trapped in the building’s basement.

The Cat in the Hat Goes Splat, by Dr. Seuss

The narrator and his sister Sally exercise their Second Amendment rights to defend their home against a feline intruder.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond

Giving a mouse a cookie leads one young boy to near-ruin, as the mouse’s demands escalate with every capitulation. Eventually the boy comes to his senses and kicks the freeloading mouse out of his house.

Curious George, by H. A. Rey

A man with a big yellow hat curtails George the monkey’s freedom by kidnapping him from Africa. Just as George is adapting to his new life as the man’s neglected pet, he experiences the governmental jackboot in the form of firemen, who throw George in jail. George escapes, but when he returns to his “friend” the man with the big yellow hat, the man locks him in a zoo run by the city. George leads a revolt, overthrows the keepers, and establishes a meritocracy with him at its head.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

A caterpillar eats his way through a tremendous amount of produce, until a heroic farmer saves his crops and thus his profit by killing the caterpillar with insecticide.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr., John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert

In a poignant example of the tragedy of the commons, the lowercase letters a through z swarm up a coconut tree, nearly destroying it and hurting themselves when they fall off of it. When the number 1 buys the tree, installs a fence with concertina wire, and posts a NO TRESPASSING sign, the parents A through Z rejoice.

The Renting Tree, by Shel Silverstein

A boy learns a valuable lesson about the monetary worth of personal resources when a tree in his backyard charges him to swing on her branches or to take an apple.

What Do People Do All Day?, by Richard Scarry

Anthropomorphic animals find life’s meaning in selling their labor in a free-market economy.

Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, by Dr. Seuss

When Thidwick the moose lets a bug live on his antlers, he soon comes to regret his decision as more and more animals crowd onto his antlers, and his fellow moose refuse to let him stay with the herd. It is not until he sheds his antlers and forces his squatters to take personal responsibility for their own lives that he can rejoin his herd and be a truly free moose.

Come to think of it, that’s exactly what Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose is about.

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12 Comments

  1. on February 20, 2008 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Must … not … have … tea … come … out … of … nose … while … laughing …

  2. on February 20, 2008 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I love it when you do this stuff.

  3. John Lodge
    on February 21, 2008 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Are you nuts? “Puff, The Magic Dragon” has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with marijuana, its legalization or any other drug-related concept. Do a little research on the author (Peter Yarrow) and you’ll find his eloquent explanation of the song’s meaning, and adamant assertion that it is NOT drug related. If he’d wanted to write a song about drugs – it would have been obvious. Continued promulgation of this myth is both stupid and in my mind, borders on slanderous.

  4. on February 21, 2008 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Woohoo! We have our first winner of this post’s “I can’t recognize a joke” contest!

  5. on February 21, 2008 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    This made my day. Several big laughs. And ending with THIDWICK was a stroke of genius.

    How about this: “The Little Match Girl” — A tiny orphan sells matches in the cold, and no one buys, and . . . then she switches to contraband lighters from Asia, lighters that actually work, and soon she’s the most prosperous orphan on the block, organizing other kids to sell good products made illegal by the state. When a policeman comes to arrest her, she sets his hair on fire. With the lighter.

  6. on February 21, 2008 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Ha, I’d completely forgotten about The Little Match Girl. Your version would have been a good one to include.

  7. Tombstone
    on February 22, 2008 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I have no words to describe this…

  8. Barbara Hughes
    on February 27, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I am the author of Starboortz
    Fish and I love your list!

  9. on February 28, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

  10. on March 5, 2008 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I just bought Starboortz Fish. Love the libertarian view point for my children. (Rainbow Fish sets such a terrible example for our kids) Maybe we an get Ms. Hughes will take on some others on your list!

  11. on March 21, 2008 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    ‘We have our first winner of this post’s “I can’t recognize a joke” contest!’

    Here is a list of libertarian children’s books that is dead serious.

  12. on March 21, 2008 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Awesome list. They’ve even got The Girl Who Owned a City, which made me want a shower after I’d finished it.

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  1. [...] books I know of, at least not picture books. Rather than write entirely new ones to fill that void, what if we re-purposed existing books, but gave them a shiny new coat of libertarian [...]

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