Children’s “Literature” and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

There are five consecutive words that I do not want to appear in any book, children’s or otherwise. Unfortunately, just like the song, that book now exists:

Nothing. The fox doesn't say anything. It can't speak. However, the fox does make a barking and howling sound.

Nothing. The fox doesn’t say anything. It can’t speak. The fox makes a barking and howling sound.

That’s great when worlds collide and music and literature can come together in one happy medium. But when it just so happens to be What Does the Fox Say?, that’s when I have a problem with it.


Have you not heard this song yet? I’ll post it just to clear up any confusion, however, it may safe to say the end of 2013 was excruciatingly painful because of it. If you’re going to make a pop/dance song that begins with the lyrics “Dog goes woof/cat goes meow” and it’s a song for the major demographic of teens and young adults, you need to reevaluate everything about your life.



We’ve gone from some great children’s classics like Goodnight Moon to The Tale of Peter Rabbit and then some just to be put back a century with What Does the Fox Say? The fox doesn’t say ring-a-ding-ding-ding, Ylvis. I don’t know what fox eat in Norway for them to make sounds like that, but maybe we should get zoologists up there and find out.

Teaching our children lies.

Teaching our children lies.

It’s admirable when people break into any competitive industry and are successful at it, but when it brings society’s and younger generations’ cognition back to the Stone Age and we’re grunting simple sentences at each other, that’s when a line needs to be drawn. It’s frustrating to see junk in a world of content abundance, but that’s what it means to have so much content: you’re bound to get a bunch of crap with a few shining stars in between.

Are there any other books you guys have seen similar in this manner? Books turned songs or vice versa? Bad or good?

5 thoughts on “Children’s “Literature” and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

  1. Brittany Staszak says:

    See, I love when viral culture makes its way onto my bookshelves. A reluctant or beginning reader may pick up this book (sub-par as it admittedly is) because they know the song and, after reading it, they want more books about foxes. Or more funny books. Or they pick up the book next to this one on the shelf. And boom: they’re a reader.
    Any reading and all reading; that’s what librarians strive for. Cheap as the bate may be, I’ll hook ’em at any cost.

    Personally, I love Jimmy Fallon’s song-turned-children’s-book Snowball Fight- great song, even BETTER book!


    • Mary says:

      I’ve actually been thinking about what you said all weekend, and I’m going to try to eloquently describe my conclusions. I think my biggest issue here is that an honest-to-goodness pop song (Here’s hoping it was actually made in jest. I’m having a real hard time deciding.) has received a lot of attention: some good, some bad and some somewhere in between. Had the song not come first, I may have thought the book to have been goofy, cute and clever.

      Unfortunately, I’m going to judge a little bit, especially with this book. I mean, the lyrics then go on to call the fox his guardian angel. In what universe does this make any cohesive sense (which is why I’m hoping this is not a serious song)?

      I can, however, definitely respect the goal of any and all librarians. Brit, you know I’m all for reading and doing anything to engage myself and others in it, but why this book?! :( I just listened to Jimmy Fallon’s song: it’s cute, simple and perfect for early readers. I think as the “What Does the Fox Say?” song goes on, the lyrics can confuse beginning readers, whose minds are impressionable to silly content, since it just jumbles up into weirdness at the end. Jimmy Fallon’s lyrics are straightforward, brief, simple and relatable.


      • Brittany Staszak says:

        The book (like the song) has its merits- it’s catchy and funny, and it does go through what different animals say which is always a hit with the kiddos. I feel like using this book in a storytime would only work, though, as a tag-along with the song or if I was certain the kids already knew the song because it really IS so out there.. which is a large nick in the “con” category for sure. That, along with the fact that I also struggle deciding whether the song (and book) were done seriously or in jest.

        In the past year I’ve read a lot of picture books (at least 200) and I have seen much, much weirder/worse quality. Which certainly is sad for publishing and reading, but that’s ultimately is what stops me from being super critical of this specific one.

        I am glad you gave me something to think about with this post, though!


      • Mary says:

        Oh, no! Thank you! I’m glad you brought up a lot of good points that got me thinking too. It helps to have the engagement, especially from IRL friends who I didn’t realize were reading my blog. :)


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