The Company They Keep

I recently heard an author note that “the furnishings of your mind is the company that you keep.” Judging from what’s filling the books and music of teens today, the company our children keep is truly frightening.

Rap music, TikToks, and poorly-written books now furnish the inner rooms of our nation’s youngest minds. The average, untraveled preteen now has a window to a world of unbridled hell, with sexuality, depression and violence funneled through their phones. And thanks to adults with bad ideas, they also get a taste of it in books.

First, an update on popular music, for those not living with three teenagers. I asked my 13-year-old to tell me the name of a popular musician—one whose music “everybody” in middle school seems to know. I looked up the suggested singer, “Ice Spice,” and found a few of her popular lyrics. Here’s a sampling, from a song oddly called “Princess Diana”:

“I’m thick ’cause I be eatin’ oats (huh?)
Bitches not takin’ shit from me but notes
Wanna be me, so she do my emotes
And my name in her mouth, so I bet she gon’ choke (bitch)”

You couldn’t get further from Princess Diana, but I digress. These ignorant and coarse words, pounded into a seventh-grader’s brain daily, are not insignificant. Yet how many parents even know that this is rattling around in their child’s mind?

The world of our kids’ books isn’t much better, being merely the long-form version of the same dark spirits thumping through their music. Plenty of adults out there are “doing the work” of promoting the left’s various social justice agendas through literature, adding bleak prose to trashy lyrics that keep company with our kids inside their heads.

The radically leftist American Library Association (ALA) is the head of the literary beast, offering little of redeeming value to America’s libraries. Its “young adult” (YA) fiction picks for kids—possibly the dumbest books in America’s schools—feature prominently in even elite schools’ lesson plans.

One of its YA recommendations, A Scatter of Light, is described in this ALA summary:

“Aria Tang is sent to California to spend the summer with her grandmother after compromising pictures of Aria are shared. She befriends Steph, her grandmother’s gardener, and is welcomed into the working-class queer community that Steph is a part of. “

This is only one of their LGBTQ-themed selections, though. Looking for postapocalyptic queer romance? The ALA has you covered there, too. Here’s the Amazon summary for one such ALA suggestion, All That’s Left in the World by Erik Brown:

“When Andrew stumbles upon Jamie’s house, he’s injured, starved, and has nothing left to lose. A deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population, including everyone both boys have ever loved. And if this new world has taught them anything, it’s to be scared of what other desperate people will do . . . so why does it seem so easy for them to trust each other?”

There’s nothing more inspiring than a story about a girl who has to live with grandma for the summer and falls in love with grandma’s working-class, queer gardener. Unless, of course, it’s a story in which a virus kills off most everyone except the boy who is now a gay love interest.

The ALA isn’t the only organization pushing the left’s dreary imagination through literature, though. The California Teacher’s Association has its own quarterly recommendations for books. One book, Watch Us Rise, sounds like a winner:

Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral.

If your school isn’t as openly progressive as the fictional NYC school, there’s always “summer reading,” a time to catch up on the hottest social justice titles in the YA genre. Some aren’t so bad, and some hardly qualify as literature. Who in America’s elite private schools hasn’t read I am Malala, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, or in Atlanta, the cartoon graphic novels of the late John Lewis, Georgia’s famous Democrat representative?

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