Columbus Day Fail

Columbus coverColumbus
D’Aulaire
1955

Submitter: We had a homeschool family Interloan this book for schooling purposes. We are so glad it is NOT on our shelves nor will it be. Reviews praise the artwork but that does not save this book. Besides the fact it is quite old with original copyright of 1955, it is just all wrong for educating children about Columbus. Using terms of “red skin savages” and “yellow skin” and “slanty eyes” is not acceptable; it is all stereotypes and glorifying the “white explorers” who save everyone they discover. This book will only teach you all the wrong facts about Columbus!

Holly: Not to mention it’s all scribbled in! (Submitter informs me that they used the computer to highlight the passages below. I had originally blamed that on naughty homeschoolers too.)

Columbus title page

Columbus excerpt Columbus excerpt

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15 comments

    1. A better question is what they thought of it when they got it. Has it gone back to the originating library? Did it have a note to the staff about it being dated?

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  1. 1) I don’t think Columbus was blond.
    2) If that’s a citrus fruit he’s sniffing, it ain’t the Caribbean.
    3) Who are the tiny people on his shoulder?
    4) I saw the title page illustration as a dumpster.
    5) I bet I know what brand of homeschoolers these are.
    6) I can’t even.

    Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day, everyone.

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    1. The title page illustration does look like a dumpster. But I think the use of perspective on the cover is perfectly OK – I don’t think anyone would mistake them for tiny people.

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  2. I think the homeschooling mention is useful because the publisher, Beautiful Feet Books, is specifically aimed at the homeschooling market. The family who requested the loan probably learned about it through a network of homeschoolers and trusted the publisher perhaps a bit more than they should.

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    1. Judging by the name, the publisher is catering to the Christian homeschooling market, and so this sort of “information” may be exactly what the parents were looking for.

      Or at least maybe everyone got a laugh and learned you shouldn’t rely on children’s books that are not only older than the kids, but the parents and possibly grandparents.

      3+
  3. I’ll bet the book doesn’t even mention the Vikings who came hundreds of years earlier, either. But then again, archeologists didn’t discover that vikings had come to Newfoundland until 1960.
    Happy Thanksgiving from Canada, everyone.

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  4. Actually, I am surprised that a book published as late as 1955 (a time on the cusp of the era of the civil rights movement) would even use such racially-inflammatory language in the first place. I would have expected such racism more form a book published much earlier, say in 1895 or 1905.

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  5. I guess the artist has never seen anyone hold a round object before. Who balances an orange on their fingertips and knuckles?

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  6. I weeded this “gem” this October, too! The page I opened to first mentioned the “naked natives” who welcomed Columbus and worshipped him as a god. They were happy to receive the so-called gifts from the crew which were broken pottery and pieces of rope, apparently.

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