Monday, December 7, 2015

How To Write Books for Boys and Girls

(This post is being re-posted because The Management is all on vacation.  Enjoy!)

I found this 1954 article about Children’s Literature on a defunct website. Submitted for your edification and amusement.


"How To Write Books for Boys and Girls"
"Always portray the military, politicians and religious figures in a positive way. Remember, these responsible authority figures keep Americans safe against atheists, beatniks and Communists.

"The family in your story should consist of married parents. Divorce has no place in reading material of teens. Broken homes make them nervous and might put unnecessary worries in their heads about whether Mom and Dad are getting along. While many classic stories feature orphans, today’s modern family is more educated and healthy, and orphans are old fashioned characters.

"Dad should always work in an office or to a responsible job like a fireman or a policeman. Fathers should never be an unemployed loafer or a union organizer. Mothers should always be homemakers. Mother’s who work in offices set a bad example for impressionable girls.

"Boy characters should have healthy, manly hobbies like playing baseball, collecting bubble gum cards, and outdoor camping. Girls should like sewing, cooking and talking with other girls about like clothes and boys. Activities that keep boys inside like reading, writing or thinking are not suitable role models for young men. Those are girl activities. On the other hand, too much physical exercise by girl characters would be unrealistic and your reader would lose interest. If your story has a Tomboy, make sure she is not a major character. Make the Tomboy a supporting character who longs to act like a real girl.

"Dress your characters in appropriate clothing. Boys: short sleeve shirts (only puny boys who spend too much time reading in their rooms wear long sleeve shirts), loose, comfortable pants with pockets and Keds sneakers with tied laces.

"Girls: ankle-length skirts (absolute no pants), Mary Jane shoes (only girls with loose morals wear high heels unless attending special occasions like a funeral or a wedding), hair tied in a pony tail or neatly trimmed.

"Language is very important. As boys and girls are often not in control of their feelings, they make many exclamations of surprise.

"Appropriate phrases:
'Jeepers!'
'Golly!'
'Holy Moley!'

"Inappropriate phrases:
'Crazy man!'
'What a gasser!'
'Kookie!'

"Never show a boy and a girl holding hands unless accompanied by an adult or riding in a hay wagon with other boys and girls.

"Never have a girl romanced by a foreigner, especially greasers, scratch-backs, potatoes, pachucos, fruitpickers, or braceros.

"If your story is a crime mystery, make sure your youngsters deal with bunco artists, robbers, or counterfeiters. Never put your youngsters in peril with murderers or social deviants.

"Everybody likes a good ghost story, but stories with supernatural happenings should be confined to misunderstood blithe spirits, college fraternity pranks or escaped convicts in disguise.

"If you follow these tips, your story is sure to be a delight to boys and girls everywhere, and stand the test of time just like the classics you read as a youth.

"End your story with a good, hearty laugh at the dinner table. Perhaps, Skippy the family dog runs through the house chasing Fluffy, the neighbor’s cat.

"These are a few tips for a good writing and wholesome reading."

30 comments:

  1. This is hilarious and yet highly disturbing. The warning against beatniks made me laugh, but whew, the "Dont's" get ugly fast.
    And gosh dang-it, I'm going to have to fix that ending so that there's a hearty laugh at the dinner table! Thanks for sharing, Lupe.

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  2. Wow. This can't be serious . . . and yet it must be! Now I understand why so many old-school books involve bank robbers and counterfeiters (which I did love, mind, but which always made me wonder why those kids got off so lucky solving "safe" crimes).

    Thanks for sharing! That suggested ending is a groaner.

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  3. Rita,

    The Fifties were the "Happy Days" with Richie, Postse and The Fonz, Dwight Eisenhower, Mexican Braceros, Atom Bomb Testing, and the International Communist Conspiracy.

    Lupe F.

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  4. I am histerical over this writing advise. The fact is I'm so old, I remember when people actually thought along these lines. Women should always be homemakers. I thought that one was stupid when I was a little kid in the fifties, since I had to do house work, and my brothers did not! Thanks for sharing. This posting really tickeled me.

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  5. "Remember, these responsible authority figures keep Americans safe against atheists, beatniks and Communists."

    I suspect union organizers and jazz players were left out for reasons of national security.

    Lupe F.

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  6. Lupe, I can't believe this, even for 1954. Those foreigner comments?? This sounds like one of those spoof blogs. I'm going to link and comment, and keep up the great work, you four - awesome job!

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  7. Dear Amy,

    "Those foreigner comments??"

    Alas, even today, one hears talking heads decry that "greasers, scratch-backs, potatoes, pachucos, fruitpickers, or braceros" are coming to America to steal valuable American Children's Literature jobs.

    Lupe F.

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  8. Oh my gosh- I love this! I hope to break every one of these rules! And I'm definitely going to use the phrase: What a gasser! in a book someday. haha.

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  9. Melissa,

    If you use the phrase "What a gasser!" in polite company, they are apted to think you're from "the other side of the tracks" where girls wear...gulp...slacks and spit tobacco!

    Lupe F.

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  10. Yeah, watch out for those pachucos and fruitpickers. 1950s fictional girls cannot resist the tall, dark, and handsome fruitpicker. I wonder if there is anybody today who will defend these "regulations."

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  11. Christopher - How about the state of Arizona?

    Lupe F.

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  12. Wow, what fun! While this is, no doubt, overbearing to the point of being comical, part of me wants to give the 1950's moralist the benefit of the doubt and question if by fragmenting and moral-relativising everything in our postmodern literature if we've really come to greater enlightenment, or if we've simply lost our values. How we've changed over a few decades! While we certainly benefit from being much more empathetic and free in our thinking, and while our "values" are far less bigoted, I wonder if, in large, these are "Happier Days".

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  13. Dear Mr. Gashler,
    Thank you for your comments. Perhaps 50 years hence, someone will discover the "How To" guidelines for the year 2010.
    Sincerely,
    Lupe F. Retroactive

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  14. It's gotta be a spoof, surely? If it's not, then all those old fashioned orphans have surely died out by now.

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  15. Dear Patsy,
    According to "How To Write Books for Boys and Girls", orphans are resourceful and forage for food with two sticks and a marble.
    Sincerely,
    Lupe F.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. Dear Josin,
    "Removed by author"?
    Come on, you can share with me.
    Sincerely,
    Lupe F.

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  18. Jeepers! I wish I'd known all his when I started my WIP a while ago. Now I have to scrap the whole thing and start over again.

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  19. Dear Megan,
    Golly, it's never to late to learn.
    Sincerely,
    Lupe F.

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  20. How about giving us the source? (A name/organization/whatever, even if the url no longer exists.) Although it's definitely funny, I'm a little dubious about a few key elements and would like to know who the commie-hating, union-busters were, ha ha!

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  21. Dear Joni,
    I regret to inform you that the parties responsible for the defunct Boys & Girls url are currently under investigation by the FBI, CIA, NRA, TWA, AMA, AAA, ACA and the People's Love Initiative.
    Sincerely,
    Lupe F.

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  22. Sorry, L - didn't realize how old this post was! Oh, well. You've got legs, as they say.

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  23. Dear Joni,
    Perhaps scholars of the 35th Century will reveal the true identity of the Boys & Girls url, and they will wax nostalgic for the good old days of the 21st Century when all we had to worry about was the International Fashion Conspiracy, the Reality Show Industrial Complex and turtles.
    Sincerely,
    Lupe F.

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  24. Because I just saw this today -- I'm commenting that every rule has clearly been broken. I cannot believe folks are still laying down "rules for writers." We are free thinkers. For every rule laid down, there are rule breakers who routinely break the mold and sell wonderful books. Keep those ideas coming and don't let the rule-mongers getcha!

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    Replies
    1. I still remember the good old days of The International Communist Conspiracy, Mexicans Need Not Apply and Mutual Assured Destruction.
      Sincerely,
      Nostalgia Ned

      Delete
  25. Lupe, I KNOW you wrote this. You admitted as much in your "Beware of bunco artists" comment. Now COME CLEAN! It's brilliant, of course. But that's why I know it was YOU!!! --Charlie Cohen

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    Replies
    1. Dear Mr. Cohen,
      Our Foreign Correspondent assures us that this post is genuine. However, as he was Our Resident Mexican at the time of this posting, he is no longer so clean.
      Sincerely,
      The Management

      Delete

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