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Fascist Fairy Tales

During the Cold War era, baby boomers were weaned on stories of the rosy-cheeked duo Dick and Jane, their white-bread parents, and dog Spot. But earlier in the past century, kid lit wasn’t as wholesome, as both democratic and totalitarian countries sought to introduce their bouncing bambinos to political messages through books and magazines. Today at the Wolfsonian, “Indoctrinating Youth: Selections from the Pamela K. Harer Gift of Propaganda Books for Children” reveals how books were regularly used by warring governments to enlist starry-eyed tots as cannon fodder for the state.

“These books were ostensibly aimed at the children themselves and the adults who read to them as indoctrination during both World Wars,” explains Frank Luca, the Wolfsonian’s chief librarian. “They are amazing and frightening at the same time.” In some of the rare tyke tomes, the sandbox set is portrayed as combatants in scenes that make war look like child’s play. Nicodemus Helps Uncle Sam targeted African-American youth, encouraging them to actively support the war through participation in scrap drives or by saving coins to buy victory stamps. The exhibition runs through October 31. Call 305-531-1001, or visit
Aug. 24-Oct. 31, 2007


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