The Children’s Story by James Clavell

Have you ever had your child say, “well my teacher said…” or “I’ll ask my teacher about that”? Every one of my children has done this and sometimes it’s been difficult to point out where a teacher got something wrong because the child is so trusting of their “teacher” that they tend to put greater authority on the things the teachers tell them.

A few years ago someone turned me onto a little book written by James Clavell, author of the famous book Shogun. I picked up a copy of the small book from Amazon and read it very quickly. It’s short, it’s too the point, and it will deeply affect you.  In fact, it might be the most chilling book you’ve ever read when you realize just how fast someone can warp a child’s mind. Clavell wrote the book after an incident where his daughter came home from school reciting the pledge of allegiance and not knowing what any of the words meant.

Clavell writes, “The Children’s Story came into being that day. It was then that I realized how completely vulnerable my child’s mind was – any mind for that matter – under controlled circumstances. Normally – I write and rewrite and rewrite, but this story came quickly – almost by itself. Barely three words were changed. It pleased me greatly because it keeps asking me questions…”

Someone posted a link on Facebook to a short film that was made of this book. I had no idea it existed but you can download a copy of this film here. You can also get a pdf of the book here. The pdf is only 15 pages and the book on Amazon is 96, but I think the book has large print in it so the pdf may be the full version of the story. It was originally published in Reader’s Digest about 50 years ago. Here is the movie. You should watch this with your children and explain how propaganda works to help inoculate them from those who would alter their beliefs.

12 thoughts on “The Children’s Story by James Clavell”

  1. Oak…..On the screen there is a date of 3-14-08. Do you know if this is the date the video was created or the date it was put online? I will do some searching but thought you might know. This is very chilling. I am reading the book now tool

    1. I used to perform this for storytelling competition in school back in the 1970’s, when it was much harder to imagine happening than it is, most unfortunately, today.
      It is a shattering, beautifully written story that conveys the gullibility of young children- and entire nations.
      Everyone who has concerns for the future of the United States should read this.
      Also, I’ve not watched the video in this thread and don’t know if it’s the same, but there was a special on television and James Clavell’s daughter played the teacher.

  2. Haunting – I see it happening all around me to grown-ups as well as children. The thing is this change is happening more slowly. Slowly and carefully those who allow it are being led by a flaxen cord led along to destruction. Another way to express it – our country and free-agency is being killed slowly as we allow it – just like a frog is cooked by being placed in cold water which is ever so slowly turned-up fractions of a degree until it’s boiling and the frog is dead.
    We must be wise and stand for our freedoms, our children, and homes, our rights of religion, and our country. It isn’t being a trouble-maker to stand for right. It is wise and brave.
    I pray we will all be wise and teach our children to be as well. Let us never weary or be afraid to standing for right and making much good come to pass.

  3. Okay, did you notice the huge irony in this film? It was produced by Mobil Oil Company – the same Mobil Oil that merged with Exxon and became ExxonMobil in the late 90’s. ExxonMobil is one of the most outspoken corporate promoters of the Common Core. In 2013, the CEO of ExxonMobil had the audacity to send a letter to the governor of Pennsylvania telling him not to respond to his constituents’ concerns about Common Core by delaying the implementation of CC, but to plow ahead without regard to public concerns because it would surely be good for Pennsylvania, so why was he listening to the people in his state?

    Crazy to see how history unfolds, no?

  4. I wrote this line nearly ten years ago for the Wikipedia article, “The power to use language as a weapon, as it is so effectively done in the classroom of Clavell’s story, admonishes us to always make sure young minds truly understand what a word really means.”

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