Socialism in a children’s book? Really?

Yes, that’s right folks. The Rainbow Fish by Marc Pfister. We got it from the library the other day because I remember seeing it all over Barnes and Noble. I figured it was popular for a reason, many kids must like it- so I checked it out for Ana.

I learned after only a few pages that I needed to change the words because I was not liking where this was going. It wasnt that it was saying awful things, it was just teaching an awful message through the parable of the rainbow fish. If I could rewrite it I would have the Rainbow Fish tell all those moochers to SCRAM and get their own pretty fins. Or tell them to look closer at themselves and they will see that God made them special too. Instead the book teaches kids that coveting someone else’s gifts/things etc., will most likely get you whatever they have because they will want to be your friend and eventually fall into line. Oh and it also says indirectly that being unique is lonely. BOLOGNA!

Below are some reviews from Amazon. Check them out and google it to see even more. AMAZING that this book was so advertised at Barnes and Noble and all over America. I think I know why though… know what I am hinting at if you watch ANY of Glenn Beck!

What do you think?

Here are some reviews of the book from

38 of 49 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad Lessons for children, June 14, 2005
ByArt (Detroit, Michigan) – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rainbow Fish (Hardcover)

This book sets horrible examples and lessons for children. The Rainbow fish is ostracized by the other bratty fishes, until it finally gives up parts of its scaly self to these mean fishes just to be able to get along. I didn’t like it at all.

Reading the positive reviews and their “carping” (pun intended) about those who have left the serious reviews that point out these glaring problem, I think this book must have been made some kind of showcase item for people who think that the collective is superior to individuals.

I really think this book is bad for children’s self esteem. It doesn’t give a positive message such as we should respect people’s differences. It says to a kid that you should merge with all the others. There is no good reason for the Rainbow fish to rip off parts of his body to give to those other fishes who are mean to him. I mean they were the maladjusted ones, not the Rainbow Fish. Leave the Rainbow Fish alone!

40 of 52 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars At best, a missed opportunity. At worst, despicable., December 19, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rainbow Fish (Hardcover)

Rainbow Fish has beautiful scales and others don’t. This simple premise is ripe for many wonderful stories and valuable lessons (e.g., individuality, acceptance of others who are different, sharing, etc).Unfortunately, this book not only fails to produce such a story or lesson, but rather teaches us several undesirable lessons. And make no mistake — this book is not about sharing.

First, we are taught that we should simply ask others, who have more than we do, to give us something for nothing. And not just ask for “something” but ask for the very thing that makes the other person feel special about themselves and that which they value most in the world. Apparently, we have a right to what others have.

Second, we are taught that if someone asks you to give him something free of charge, we shouldn’t ask why but rather should just give it away — even if it is the very thing we prize most in this world.

Third, we should be appalled if someone scoffs at or refuses such a request to give us something free for no apparent reason. And we also learn that it is appropriate to ostracize such an individual. Indeed, we are taught that ostracism based on envy is perfectly appropriate.

Fourth, we should understand that others, who don’t have what we have, will ostracize us. If we want their friendship, we should give them what we have — even if it requires that we give away our most prized possession in the world. Only then can we have friends.

Fifth, we learn that we can indeed befriend someone if they give us what we want and ask for. Indeed, buying friends is perfectly appropriate.

Finally, we learn that being unique is wrong. We should all be the same — only then can we be happy.

This is the worst book I’m aware of (and I’m aware of many) that you could ever read to your child. Truly despicable. And parents take note: this is mandatory reading in some public schools.

40 of 52 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars This book fell below my expectations….., October 12, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rainbow Fish (Hardcover)

I had heard alot about the famous rainbow fish books and when I saw the 10th anniversary book out, I decided to buy it for my 2 year old. I happily sat down with her at bedtime to read her the story and I finished the book feeling not so happy about the book.
The rainbow fish is aesthetically, a very pleasing book, with it’s beautiful many hued fish and the shimmery shiny scales, but all the visual effects do not make for the rather unpleasant story line. Sharing is one thing, but when you have to give away the one thing that makes you unique in order to cultivate friends suggests that the only way friendship can be had is through purchase. The little fish asks a second time for a scale, even though he was refused the first time after which he alienated all the other fish from rainbow fish. What does the story say about small (minded, greedy) people who want what another has and when they don’t get it they go around poisoning everyones’ minds against the person? This story left a bad taste and I returned the book the very next day.

23 of 29 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars There are much better fish books in the sea!, June 4, 2001
By“bedtimestoryteller” (Milford, OH United States) – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rainbow Fish (Hardcover)

After receiving this book as a shower gift I read it and pitched it! It is a story about a fish that is beautiful (but vain) and lonely…so he buys some friends by giving away his beautiful, shining scales. Yes, there is the lesson about not thinking yourself so grand that you do not want to play with others, however that concept is quickly lost in the prose as the fish gives away all of his scales until he looks like the other fish. WHAT NEXT??? Are we going to have a book about a wise owl that acts stupid to gain friends? This book really reeks of assimilation at all costs, and that looking like others is the road to happiness!It is frightening to think that someone that creates television programming for children thought that this is a morality tale.


34 of 44 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Mediocrity for the young reader, August 25, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Rainbow Fish (Hardcover)

This is by far the worst book in my children’s home library. It is replete with destructive, anti-individuality themes centering around the story of a beautiful fish which is coerced by mobs of begging, greedy, mediocre fish and an ominous octopus into tearing off its body parts (scales) to appease its peers. It is absolutely disgusting. While many reviewers like the theme of “sharing” in this story, the reality is that for an extremely young audience, the analogy is completely inappropriate. Even a very small child knows that scales are necessary for a fish and part of its body. How many adulating reviews would there be if the protagonist were a child asked to mutilate himself by giving up his skin to win “friends”? Even putting aside this disturbing analogy in this story, the “lesson” of this story really is twofold: first, “friends” are friendly if they are bought, and second, one must never have more than anyone else or by extension, try to work harder or excell beyond one’s peers. Blend in, be part of the crowd, another sheep. I would encourage parents to avoid this garbage. The true nature of this book’s philosophy is accurately portrayed in Vonnegut’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron” which I highly reccomend.

203 of 275 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Celebration of Appeasement and Mediocrity, May 18, 2004
ByMichael Newman (Long Beach, CA USA) – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rainbow Fish (Hardcover)

We own this book only because my wife ordered it from a book club. Had we looked at the book, we never would have bought it. My two-year old has not seen it, nor will he. He has enough good books. And this book is bad. The book is so bad, destructive, immoral, and wrong that I have trouble figuring out where to start. Well, let’s start with the “moral(s)” of the book, which can be summed up as follows: (1) being special is evil, and worthy of hatred; (2) if you do not give your possessions away to others on their demand and pursuant to their coercion, you will be rightfully hated; (3) you will be happy only if you are mediocre; (4) you need to bribe people to be your friends. And the message here is not about sharing. Notice, the Rainbow Fish does not “share” his scales (sharing would imply that his friends were going to give the scales back when they are done.) No, the Rainbow Fish is compelled (by emotional coercion) to give away that which makes him special. What part of this story is supposed to be edifying? It is garbage.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Socialism in a children's book? Really? « Speier Home Blog | Midia Social

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