Retelling ‘Little Women’: The Alarming Agenda in New Fiction for Children
By Laura Kizior
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publishing of the literary classic Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This cherished story of four sisters and their adventures has been read and loved by generations of girls and has been adapted into many films, television series, radio dramas, and stage plays. Little Women is a timeless American novel that teaches important lessons about acquiring virtue, living amidst the daily strife of family life, embracing sisterhood, caring for others, and practicing true friendship.
Although the story of Little Women has stood the test of time, parents should be concerned about the latest retelling, a graphic novel set for publication this November by Hachette Book Group. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero sets the beloved March family in modern-day New York City and portrays the main heroine, Jo, as a lesbian. This new book is certainly not the first publication to insert the homosexual agenda into a classic story. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman reworks the fairy tales Sleeping Beauty and Snow White to avoid heroic princes altogether, and instead features a same-sex kiss that awakens the sleeping princess at the end of the story.
Books that feature homosexual characters are not new to the world of children’s literature, but parents should be alarmed by the increasing number of mainstream novels and stories for children that push homosexuality and transgenderism. Book publishers are proud to produce more and more pro-homosexual literature for a mainstream audience, calling it diversity publishing. Knowing that there are not enough LGBTQ readers to sustain the genre, many bookstores are starting to mix pro-LGBTQ books with regular books on the shelves to attract a mainstream audience, unfortunately making it even easier for an unsuspecting child to pick up an indoctrinating story.
Children learn best through stories, which is why it is so important for parents to be aware of what their children are reading. As more and more book publishers print mainstream children’s fiction with immoral agendas, parents will have to be extra careful when helping their children find quality books to read. Thus, we offer some tips and tricks for navigating the library and bookstore:
Use book lists or trusted sources
Before you head to the library or bookstore, compile a list of recommended titles. Start your list by searching online or asking trusted friends for lists of books. CLSP has helped you begin.
Find a list of recommended pro-life picture books at cultureoflifestudies.com/picturebooks.
Find a list of recommended pro-life chapter books at cultureoflifestudies.com/books.
Michael O’Brien’s A Landscape with Dragons is another great resource with lists of books for all ages.
Be cautious with retellings
Even literary classics can be ruined by a modern editor. Check to see if a book has been edited or abridged and the date of publication. Sometimes even an unabridged version of a novel has been edited to make the book more appealing to a modern-day audience. Check the publication date near the copyright information to make sure that the book has not been significantly revised since it was originally published. Although not all retellings contain objectionable themes, it is important to remember that the author of the story is able to take an artistic license in the new version, which includes changing the message at the heart of the story.
Read it first
Never judge a book only by its cover. If you are still unsure about a book, read it first before giving it to your child. If you opt not to read all of the books that your children voraciously consume, at least read a summary of the books and spend time discussing the major themes in the story. Another option is to read books aloud with your family.
No matter which books you give your children to read, it’s always important to use them to spark discussion with your children. With so much confusion in the world, it is only a matter of time before your children learn about something that you wish they hadn’t. You want them to feel comfortable enough to come to you with their questions and concerns, especially as they reach their teenage years. That’s why it’s important to start the conversation when your children are young and keep the conversation going throughout their formative years. You shouldn’t have to worry about a hidden agenda during story time. Story time is about learning to discern right from wrong, being inspired by great heroes and heroines, and developing a longing for the true, the good, and the beautiful.
Which great books have sparked discussions with your children?
Laura Kizior is the digital media and communications manager for the Culture of Life Studies Program. Her work has appeared on Verily.com, CatholicMom.com, LifeSiteNews.com, Celebrate Life Magazine, TeachersSavingChildren.org, and in the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance newsletter.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at cultureoflifestudies.com/blog/retelling-little-women-the-alarming-agenda-in-new-fiction-for-children/.