Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is one of the most popular picture books of all time and an enduring childhood classic. Don’t worry—I’m not about to ruin it for you by suggesting it’s secretly Satanic or super racist or something. No, the reason Brown Bear, Brown Bear briefly got the axe in 2010 is because the Texas Board of Education didn’t feel like doing some quick fact-checking.
Having learned that the book’s author, Bill Martin Jr., had also written a book called Ethical Marxism, they decided to pull Brown Bear, Brown Bear from the shelves. They did this because… I don’t know, really. I guess they thought a bunch of five-year-olds would go Googling “Bill Martin Jr.” and learn that the man who wrote their favorite picture book was also highly critical of capitalism and the free market.
But as it turned out, Bill Martin Jr. did not even write Ethical Marxism; an entirely different Bill Martin did. At no point during this process did anyone stop to think, “Hey, does it seem likely that a children’s picture book author also wrote a Marxist treatise? Maybe we should look into this. You know, just to be sure.” Perhaps then they would have realized Bill Martin Jr. died in 2004; Ethical Marxism wasn’t published until 2008. Whoops.