In theory, I believe that everyone has the freedom to read and write about any topic they choose. And yet, I admit, I was horrified to learn there is a children’s picture book called My parents open carry. Published in 2011, this book explains to children that ‘self-defence is a basic natural right and that firearms provide the most efficient means for that defence’ (Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew). To me, this sounds like a good example of a controversial children’s book.
Apparently one of the reasons the book’s authors, Jeffs and Nephew, wrote the book was because they ‘looked for pro-gun children’s books and couldn’t find any’. I feel like there is a good reason for this. Although actually, I’m a little surprised that this is true, considering how mainstream gun carrying is in America. And yet, apparently one of the other reasons the authors wanted to publish the book was to bring ‘gun ownership out of the closet and into the mainstream’.
While the book does cover the four basic rules of gun safety, it concerns me that people are able to purchase a book that not only promotes gun use and ownership, but open-carrying guns as the owners go about their daily lives. After all, as Thomas writes, roughly half of children’s accidental firearm deaths occur at home and guns kill or hospitalise 10,000 American children each year.
At time of writing, Kornbluth reported that My parents open-carry was one of the biggest sellers on Amazon, and a third of the 300 Amazon reviewers gave it 5 stars.
This question becomes more significant for Australian parents and readers at a time when there are discussions about the legality of owning guns.
Another book is also currently experiencing backlash due to its unconventional topic, although for very different reasons. Ruby Roth’s Vegan is love picture book explains to children why animals suffer when they are used by humans for entertainment, fashion and food. While Roth argues the book is about love (for animals, ourselves and other humans), Dr Robert Epstein, the child psychologist interviewed in the below clip, has deemed Vegan is love as ‘the most disturbing children’s book I’ve ever seen’.
I don’t have children myself, but if I did, I know which book I would prefer them to read!
Interested in this topic? Find out more about why it’s so important to encourage children to read, even if the content isn’t as prestigious as you may want, and why children’s literature should deal with ‘gritty’ content.
Hartsell, Carol, ‘Nope, that’s not terrifying AT ALL’, The Huffington Post, 6 August 2014, viewed 17 August 2014,
Smith, Zoe, ‘Is ‘My parents open carry’ the creepiest book ever?’, News Corp Australia, 6 August 2014, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://www.news.com.au/world/is-my-parents-open-carry-the-creepiest-kids-book-ever/story-fndir2ev-1227014216164>.
Kornbluth, Jesse, ‘The hot kids’ book? ‘My parents open carry.’ (Yes, it’s for real.)’, Huffington Post, 11 August 2014, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-kornbluth/the-hot-kids-book-my-pare_b_5666539.html>.
Roth, Ruby, ‘Vegan author debates child psychologist on Fox’, We don’t eat animals, 5 August 2014, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://www.wedonteatanimals.com/blog/vegan-author-debates-child-psychologist-fox>.
Thomas, Emily, ‘Pro-gun book for kids ignites outrage’, Huffington Post, 6 August 2014, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/06/colbert-my-parents-open-carry_n_5654445.html>.