From Little House On The Prairie to Dr Seuss, bedtime reading for children is rapidly becoming a battlefield with classic stories slapped with ‘trigger warnings’ for ‘harmful content’ or popular authors such as Enid Blyton ‘cancelled’.
But waiting on the shelves of a bookshop near you to replace them is a whole raft of suitably ‘woke’ literature for children, ranging from feminist fairytales to tomes teaching children about white privilege and subverting gender roles.
Waterstones is currently showing books such as How To Be A Better White Person and Gender Swapped Fairy Tales. They also have alternative bedtime stories like the tale of a refugee gingerbread man.
The retailer has mingled the adult satire My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism (a parody on woke culture written in British comedian Andrew Doyle) with the children’s books.
An anthology of bedtime stories that are based on activists, politicians, and princesses is another option.
Femail shares the list of recommended reads for the woke bookhelf.
Waterstones is currently showing books such as “How To Be A More White Person, Gender Swapped Fairy Tales” and “How To Be A Better White Person”.
You can find a wide range of suitable ‘woke” literature for children if you wait on the shelves of a local bookshop to replace tem. They include feminist fairytales and books that subvert gender norms.
Gender Swapped Fairy Tales
Gender Swapped Fairy Tales is a collection of revised classic stories written by wife-and-husband team Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett, created to challenge perceptions of gender.
The authors created stories such as “Cinder or the Little Glass Slipper”, in which an elderly queen gazes over a young prince, and “Handsome and the Beast”, which were based on classic tales.
The 12 traditional stories were re-written using a computer algorithm that simply swapped the gendered language of the originals, for example changing ‘king’ to ‘queen’.
Featuring tales such as ‘Cinder, or the Little Glass Slipper’, in which an old queen leers over a young prince and ‘Handsome and the Beast’ – the authors aimed to reinvent characters rather than storylines of classic tales.
The idea for the anthology of fairy tales came from Jonathan, whose father used to swap the genders of the characters when he would read bedtime stories.
“The story of the book began when I was a small boy. My dad used to read my sister and me bedtime stories, but what we didn’t realize was that he was secretly gender-switching some of the characters in books,” he said on the Reading Corner podcast.
“So that made it more interesting for him, but also gave me and my sis a bunch of characters who didn’t fit into the normal gender stereotypes.”
The Black Friend: Being a Better White Person
Nestled alongside the children’s book is Frederick Joseph’s memoir, The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person.
Frederick Joseph’s memoir The Black Friend: on Being a Better White Person is written directly for young white people. It details the racism, mircoraggressions and other mistreatments he has suffered throughout his life.
The book was written by a friend to address young white people and details the racism, mircoraggressions, and other experiences that the author has had throughout his life.
It offers advice to young people on how they can acknowledge their white privilege and touches on subjects such as cultural appropriation and ‘reverse racism’.
The book details his transfer to a largely white high school as a teen, sharing race-related anecdotes and explaining how they are harmful.
Joseph claims that many young people have witnessed the racism even though they don’t know it.
Joseph writes that “We all live in a bubble, whether it’s race, gender, sexuality or religion, or any other aspect our identities or lived experience.”
Each chapter includes the voice one artist or activist, including Moonlight Tarell Alvin McCraney, the creator of the OscarsSoWhite hashtag April Reign and Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was published in 2016 and is a children’s book that was funded online through crowdfunding.
The book, written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, features short stories about 100 real women, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world, who can be role models to children.
The list includes Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Prize-winning Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 and American gymnast Simone Biles, one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time.
Other women include experts such as Grace Hopper, an American computer scientist; and celebrities and athletes such as Serena Williams or Michelle Obama.
Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different and Stories for Kids Who Dare to be Different
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was published by Ben Brooks and Quinton Winter. They then created Stories for Boys Who Dare To Be Different, which is aimed at male readers.
The 2018 children’s book featured role models such as Salvador Dali, Barack Obama and Stormzy.
Later, the duo published Stories For Kids Who Dare Be Different, which was targeted at a gender neutral demographic and included a mix male and female role model.
This book features a list of inspiring people, including Whoopi Goldberg and Andy Warhol, Greta Gerwig, Greta Gerwig, Greta MacArthur, Greta Gerwig, and Andrea Bocelli.
The release of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (middle) inspired author Ben Brooks and illustrator Quinton Winter to write Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different (right) – aimed at a male audience and a book aimed at a gender-neutral demographic called Stories for Kids Who Dare to be Different (left)
Fearless Fairy Tales
Written by TV presenter Konnie Huq and author James Kay, Fearless Fairytales is a collection of classic stories which have been updated for a new generation of readers.
Characters include Trumplestiltskin, a vain and gold-obsessed man who will stop at nothing to become richer, and the princess whose only dream is to become Chancellor of the Exchequer – Sleeping Brainy.
The Gingerbread Kid escapes persecution in his home country but struggles to fit in in his new one while Rap-Unzel gets the chance of fame by appearing on Kingdom’s Got Talent.
Poetry book What Are Little Girls Made of! (left) is made up of re-workings of classic nursery rhymes through a feminist lens while Fearless Fairytales (right) is a collection of classic stories which have been updated for a new generation of readers
What are Little Girls Made of, Anyway?
Poetry book What Are Little Girls Made of! This book is a collection of feminist re-workings and re-workings classic nursery rhymes.
Written by award-winning author Jeanne Willis with illustrations by Isabelle Follath, the book was published in 2020 and includes takes on songs including Little Bo-Peep and Humpty Dumpty.
In Georgie Porgie, he doesn’t dare to make the girls cry, in Little Bo-Peep the protagonist wades through slime to rescue her flock, while in Humpty Dumpty the egg is saved by a female doctor.
My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism
Alongside the stacks of ‘woke’ children’s books, staff have bizarrely placed a copy of My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism – a satire on woke culture written by British comedian Andrew Doyle.
Staff bizarrely placed a copy of My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism among the stacks of ‘woke” children’s books.
The comedy book is written under the pseudonym Titania McGrath, who Doyle describes as ‘a militant vegan who thinks she is a better poet than William Shakespeare’.
The book has received rave reviews from the likes of Piers Morgan, who said it’s the choice for you ‘if virtue-signalling wokery drives you as nuts as it drives me’.
Doyle’s first book under this pseudonym was titled Woke. A Guide to Society Justice. Ricky Gervais hailed it as a ‘beautiful, classic satire’, while critics at the Spectator called the book ‘hilarious.
Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History
New York Times bestseller Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History relates true stories of black men throughout history.
Written by Vashti Harrison, the book tells the story of Jamaican-born physician Doctor Harold Moody who campaigned against racial prejudice after moving to the UK.
Activist Paul Stephenson, who is a long-time campaigner for civil rights for the British African-Caribbean community, is also featured in the book alongside Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan.
Others included in the book includes architect Sir David Adjaye who designed National Museum of African American History, comic book author Dwayne McDuffie and the musician Prince.
Little Leaders (left) relates true stories of black men throughout history while Hey You! (middle) explores the experiences black children face growing up with systemic racism. Young, Gifted & Black (right) celebrates icons of color from the past & present’
Hey You! An Empowering Celebration of Growing up Black
Hey You! An empowering celebration of growing up Black is a non-fiction book exploring the experiences black children face growing up with systemic racism.
The book was published in June by Dapo Adeola, an award-winning illustrator. It also features 18 illustrations by other black artists.
Guardian critics insist the book: ‘Distils both the fierce heartache of racism and a passionate sense joy and hope in the future.
The Evening Standard, however, was highly praised as a ‘true but largely uplifting read’ that is aimed at children in particular.
Young, Gifted, and Black
Young Gifted and Black by Jamia Wilson and illustrated by Andrea Pippins celebrates ‘icons of colour from the past and present’.
The 52 icon include figures throughout history such as Mary Seacole, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
Author Zadie Smith, legendary musician Louis Armstrong and A-listers including Naomi Campbell, Oprah Beyonce and Solange Knowles are all featured.
This list also includes sports personalities like Muhammad Ali, Usain Bolt and Nicola Adams.
Amazingly Great Women Who Have Changed the World
Kate Pankhurst, a descendent of pioneering suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, penned the number one best-selling children’s non-fiction title in the UK market this year.
Fantastically Great Women who Changed The World examines the lives of remarkable women throughout history, including Emmeline, the leading British women’s rights activist.
The book explores famous women such as Jane Austen, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank.
The producer of Six, an international hit musical, has even planned to adapt the children’s book into a pop musical stage production.