Childhood books that have a totally different meaning than you thought as a kid
Think of all your fave kids books from when we were kids, and odds are that there was some deeper meaning — an important lesson to be gathered. But some had an even more wild meaning that had to do with politics or tragic events. Try rereading these books from your childhood, and you’ll see that there’s much more than meets the eye if you look between the lines.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
The tale of the Grinch and how he grew to love the Whos in Whoville is a beloved Christmas tale that we all love to read / watch during the holidays. But, as you’ll see in this list, Dr. Seuss had a habit of making his children’s books have a hidden meaning.
When we were kids, it seemed like the message was something along the lines of “don’t hate on Christmas because it’s rad” or maybe “don’t steal our presents because PRESENTS ARE GREAT.” But when you reread this tale later on, it’s evident that Seuss was actually commenting on consumer capitalism of the holiday, and how presents, trees, decorations, and all the glitziness have detracted from the true meaning of Christmas.
Curious George by Hans Augusto Reys and Margret Reys
Oh, Curious George, the beloved little monkey that captured our hearts when we were kids. The meaning behind the book, though, is darker when you learn about the authors themselves, according to the Huffington Post:
The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Though Baum never publicly spoke about this particular theory, some argue that The Wizard of Oz was actually an allegory for the gold standard debate. Baum was a political reporter in the late 1800s with an interest in gold and silver, and many believe the Yellow Brick Road was a symbol for the gold standard, with Dorothy’s silver slippers (which been changed to the ruby ones we all know and love today) representing the silver ratio.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Besides making us vastly hungry for peaches, James and the Giant Peach has been a beloved story for millions of kids all over the world for its fun and wildly imaginative plot. Like, traveling with giant insects via a massive peach all because of magical glowing worms? RAD. But this story actually has some social commentary.
As Mic points out, when the peach lands in NYC, it’s at first viewed as a nuclear threat, with the insects within being viewed as malevolent aliens; however, once the initial fear diminishes, the peach and its inhabitants are accepted — and a bunch of New Yorkers even get a bunch of fruit for themselves. The big lesson here? Stop fearing the unknown.
Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss
Again, Dr. Seuss writes nothing that doesn’t mean something else, and this time, Marvin K. Mooney is actually Richard Nixon. YEPPP. Don’t believe us? About 40 years ago — with Seuss’s permission — the Washington Post published the text from the book exactly as it appears, except they changed Marvin’s name to Richard Nixon.
Thomas the Tank Engine by Wilbert Awdry and Christopher Awdry
IT’S POST-APOCALYPTIC, GUYS. Check out Tumblr user frog-and-toad-are-friends and his view on the topic:
Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
Reread Paddington Bear, and you may see a meaning that doesn’t just have to do with an adorable bear, but with immigration. Colin Yeo, immigration lawyer, reviewed the film version of Paddington last year for the New Statesman, explaining that, “if detected by the authorities, Paddington would in all likelihood be detained in one of our virulently multiplying private immigration detention spaces.”
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
When C. S. Lewis was 33, he converted from atheism to Christianity. That’s right: Aslan is Jesus Christ. In one of his very last letters in 1961, he explained what his intentions were with the story:
Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss
As you’ve *probably* gathered by this point, Yertle the Turtle is not about a turtle. Let’s think about the plot, shall we?
Yertle is the king of the pond, but this isn’t enough for him. He demands that the turtles he reigns over stack themselves up into a big tower so he can sit on top of them to survey the land. Naturally, the turtle at the bottom, Mack, is exhausted; he asks Yertle if he can rest. Yertle ignores him and instead demands more turtles so he can get himself up higher. Yertle notices the moon; instead of finding it beautiful, he’s furious that something is higher than himself. He is about to call for more turtles to lift himself to the height of the moon when Mack burps, knocking over the whole stack, sends Yertle flying into the mud, and lets everyone free.
Consider the fact that it was written during the WWII era and, yep, Yertle is an allegory for Hitler. (Fun fact: at Random House, the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world, the thing that was disputed was not the allegory for Hitler, but the burp. There had never been a burp in a children’s book before. . . SCANDALOUS.)
(Images via Amazon.)