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Occupying children’s minds: ‘Radical children’s literature’ at Wall Street protests

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

Emails posted online Monday from a private Occupy Wall Street mailing list show that protest leaders considered indoctrinating children with radical literature at Zucotti Park in New York City.

In response to protest organizer Kelley Wolcott’s open request to “coordinate” a “family day,” another mailing list member offered up socialist literature for use during the festivities.

“I have a story book called Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature, with stories ranging from Dr. Seuss to Bolshevik sponsored ‘Fairy Tales for Worker’s Children,’” Nicolas Moselle Allen wrote. “Let me know if you would like this!”

A publisher’s blurb for “Tales for Little Rebels” introduces the book by noting that “[r]ather than teaching children to obey authority, to conform, or to seek redemption through prayer, twentieth-century leftists encouraged children to question the authority of those in power. Tales for Little Rebels collects forty-three mostly out-of-print stories, poems, comic strips, primers, and other texts for children that embody this radical tradition.”

NYU Press describes one of the “tales” this way: “In 1912, a revolutionary chick cries, ‘Strike down the wall!’ and liberates itself from the ‘egg state.’” In another, written against a 1940 backdrop, “ostriches pull their heads out of the sand and unite to fight fascism.” A third tale, set in 1972, tells the story of “Baby X,” who “grows up without a gender and is happy about it.”

Responding to the offer of making this literature available to children of protesters, an activist who only identifies herself as “grimwomyn” was enthusiastic. (ALSO ON OCCULIST: Organizer planned to financially commodify the revolution)

“This is AMAZING!!” she wrote. “Yes I would love to be able to utilize something like this! I think Bluestockings Bookstore has some other radical children’s literature that we might be able to get them to donate maybe. Thanks! I am gonna start tweeting #liloccupiers to promote it.”

Wolcott, who originated the topic, jumped back into the conversation and cautioned “that people may see children as an opportunity to politicize the movement. I think that we should provide teaching related services that DO NOT have an agenda, and treat children in a respectful way that allows them to explore their own ideas about what is fair or not fair without imposing an adult agenda.”

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