Mission America

Christian Commentary on the Culture

What is "Between the Covers" of Children's Books?

Deborah DeGroff

[Originally published on Deborah's website, What's Inside Children's Books? Warning: graphic content]

I am not the arbiter of what labels a book “good” or “bad.” Do I have my personal opinions? Of course, I do--just like every other individual. In today’s culture, bloviating or critiquing a book about politicians is common. Books about the Clinton’s, Bushes, Obama, Trump, or Biden are a good example. If a person is a Biden fan, then books that portray him in a favorable light are, usually, considered good books. Contrarily, those with opposing views may consider them bad books.

Certainly, the above statement is self-evident. I only mention this to make a point about children’s books. When parents comment or challenge the content of books marketed to children, they are immediately accused of being book censors and ignorant people who are trying to control the thoughts of all. In the world of children’s books, there is no discussion, bloviating, or critiquing allowed if the viewpoint deviates from the current politically correct dogma. Why is it a free-for-all in lauding or blasting *adult books (*books not marketed specifically to children), but a contemptible practice for books marketed to and targeting children?

I titled my book, Between the Covers: What’s Inside a Children’s Book? because I noticed that few parents ever looked beyond the covers of the books their children were reading. After three decades, I still talk to parents who have no clue that a book for minors would even include the word damn. Until recently, most parents just assumed that all books for minors were safe and neutral. Are they?

The following is an excerpt from Blazed by Jason Myers. This was published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division in 2014.

I’m fourteen years old now. And I set an Oxycontin 30 in the middle of a sheet of aluminum foil the size of my hand.

I hold the lighter underneath the foil. When the pill starts to smoke, I chase it back and forth and back and forth with the hollowed-out Bic pen in my mouth.

I close my eyes as the smoke slowly releases from my mouth and nostrils.       

Everything is very different now.     

I feel like fog.

          It’s so perfect. 

          When I open my eyes again, the world is glass and it’s beautiful and I’m happy.

Children are notorious for not considering the consequences of their actions. Many parents have Oxycontin in their medicine cabinets. Was it necessary to include a detailed description of how to smoke and inhale the drug? Did the editor even question this?

Did an editor question the inclusion of two authentic porn site web addresses in Jason Myers’s Exit Here book? Once again, this was published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division in 2007. One of those sites, godsgirls.com closed in 2020. The other one is still up and running. How many kids discovered these porn sites by reading this book?

The V-Word: True Stories About First-Time Sex by Amber Keyser is a Beyond Words/Simon Pulse book, published in 2016. As mentioned before, Simon Pulse is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. Chapter 12: “Ear Muffs for Muff Diving” is a story by Chelsey Clammer. This includes an explicit oral sex scene between two lesbians. The author concludes this encounter with this:

I sit up and wipe her salty liquid taste from my chin. A hair tickles the back of my throat. I pull it out and stare at—it’s proof that I’m a lesbian. I kinda want to keep it.

Courtney smiles at me. “Mmm. Dessert.” I imagine my chin is glistening like the fingers that were inside of her are glistening. Sparkling, even. I exhale, smile. Yes, lesbian.

Yes, that’s me. (page 96)

If, heaven forbid, a parent complained about this book’s inclusion in the school library, the parent would be accused of being homophobic, which somehow nullifies the complaint. Most certainly, that same parent would be equally mortified if the characters in this chapter involved heterosexuals.

No parent would expect a book for young adults to include this:

There’s a girl getting DP’d on the floor by Luke and Jimmy. Luke’s on his back, his dick in this girl’s twat, and Jimmy’s on top of the girl, his dick in her ass. (page 233)

That passage is included in Run the Game by Jason Myers. This is, also, a Simon Pulse imprint of Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division. This book also includes over 1300 f-words. So much for busting the bubble of those parents who still are shocked to find a “damn” in kiddie books.

Hannah Witton’s Doing It! Let’s Talk About Sex was originally published in 2017 in Great Britain. In 2018, Sourcebooks Fire published this book in the United States. This book for kids 14-18 included chapters on porn, sexual pleasure, masturbation, and sex shaming. “Roly” wrote a short article about “Being Gender Fluid.” The bio included at the end lets the kiddies know that “Roly” is a gender-fluid YouTuber. How long is it going to take the young reader to find Roly on YouTube? Or Erica Lust who wrote the included article about Sex-positive pornography?

Name And YouTube hyperlink

Date Started

Number   Subscribers

Number Videos


Erica Lust










(September 9/26/2023 statistics)

How many kids started following Erica, Roly, and various other contributors after reading Witton’s Doing It! book?

Is it just sex or bad language that caused parents to begin speaking up? Hardly. Take a look at books for preschoolers.

The Light of You, by Tristan Reese and Biff Chaplow has a pregnant “dad” featured on the book cover. Reese and Chaplow are partners and Reese is a transgender man. This 2022 book published by Flamingo Rampant is for children from 3 to 5.

There is a board book for children ages 1 to 3 titled “I Look Up To Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” This 22-page book, published by Random House Books for Young Readers, imparts great depths of historical knowledge to these babies. One illustration is a 2-page spread with the words, “Ruth is strong.” The picture shows her holding up the Supreme Court Building. Of course, the tots are too young to understand that it is the Supreme Court Building. They may well look at Ruth as a Superhero like Superman. Does anyone question why publishers for our nation’s youngest would choose to publish this? There’s even another board book about Ginsburg for children from 2 to 4. Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg?: (A Who Was? Board Book) was published in 2020 by Rise x Penguin Workshop.

They, She, He, Me: Free to Be! By Maya Gonalez is a book that encourages children to use pronouns that make them feel good—such as “ze” or “tree.” They, She, He easy as ABC is another book by Gonzalez. Pronouns include their, ze, they, and tree. My heart goes out to English teachers who still attempt to teach Grammar.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, by Michelle Markel, included the passage, “The police arrest her seventeen times. They break six of her ribs . . .” Clara Lemlich was a real person. Perhaps this statement is true. The question is whether this is an appropriate statement to include in a book with an intended audience of children between the ages of 4 and 8. Could this influence a young child to be wary of the police? This book was published in 2013 by Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Books for preschoolers about transgender kids are numerous. Books for the young about climate change, police brutality, global citizenship, anti-family, anti-America, and anti-Christian sentiments are commonplace. The sexual deviancy depicted in young adult books has no limits.

Yes, parents and other concerned citizens have opinions about such content. Backing them into a corner by making this a good book/bad book issue works both ways. If people criticize the content of a book and consider it inappropriate, those who disagree with them shouldn’t be given a pass by just calling them names and accusing them of wanting to control the content of what every child reads. Those tactics are overused and lame. They, too, should have to defend why they believe such materials are appropriate for children and explain why their defense of this content absolves them from the accusation of “wanting to control what every child reads.”

There is no longer a middle ground. There is an ever-widening chasm between those who deem books such as the ones mentioned in this article appropriate and those who do not. Unfortunately, the curricula and philosophy of government schools favor the former. How long are parents going to allow these schools to mold their children?

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3


Deborah DeGroff


Between the Covers: What’s Inside a Children’s Book?