REVIEW: Ben Carson’s 1st Kids Book Is Inspiring, If a Tad Low-Energy

'As counterprograming goes for ... leftist philosophies like Critical Race Theory, it does not delve into any of the more sophisticated and nuanced lessons that children will need...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) One of the few silver linings to country’s the growing partisan rancor and trend of radical indoctrination in schools has been an explosion of conservative books for kids.

Series like the Tuttle Twins and Brave Books have built entire franchises around tempering didactic teachings with fantastic worlds full of lively characters and games that offer high-engagement appeal for young readers.

My curiosity, thus, was instantly piqued upon seeing a tweet about Dr. Ben Carson‘s recent foray into this cottage industry.

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I had the privilege of seeing Carson speak in person at Johns Hopkins University, where he was one of the world’s foremost neurosurgeons (before entering into the political realm with his 2016 presidential run and stint as HUD secretary for the Trump administration).

Among his many illustrious accomplishments, Carson also is the author of at least a dozen grown-up books—including his inspiring autobiographical account Gifted Hands, which was turned into a movie staring Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr.

Carson’s first kids book, Why America Matters, was published in November by his American Cornerstone Institute, which is developing its own Little Patriots program (perfect for homeschool or parochial-school curricula).

Little Patriots pitches itself as an “[a]ll-in-one platform featuring online lessons, at-home activities, patriotic books, and sing-a-longs to teach children about our country’s founding principles,” with lessons covering subjects like civics, history and American values.

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The program lists as its guiding principles the cornerstones of faith, liberty, community and life. These concepts also figure significantly into Why America Matters.

The book—around 25 glossy, colorful pages with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Liz Ball—features rhyming quatrains on each page, brimming with patriotic imagery and symbolism, such as:

This country is not perfect
and each day we grow some more.
Does America really matter?
In our hearts, we know for sure.

For all his brilliance and subdued dynamism, though, Carson always has suffered from the perception of being—to paraphrase one of his former presidential primary opponents—“super low energy.”

The book’s pacing feels very much the same.

On one hand, Why America Matters may be a delightful read for children who are (like Carson himself) extraordinarily focused, disciplined and “soft-spoken.”

It is the sort of book that one could imagine complementing a Carson presidency if the stars had aligned differently.

As it stands, though, we live in a Donald Trump and Joe Biden world.

In an era when literature must compete against a multitude of screens for kids’ attention, parents and teachers may need to find creative ways to gain the initial buy-in.

Carson’s moral pillars may be too abstract for the youngest of readers, and too sentimental for those already cognizant of the country’s fast-declining trajectory.

As counterprograming goes for the aggressive subversion in leftist philosophies like Critical Race Theory, it does not delve into any of the more sophisticated and nuanced lessons that children will need to rely upon in the modern landscape.

Nonetheless, the book works wonderfully as a credo for the Little Patriots program, and it may serve well as a jumping-off point for the program’s other instructional materials—perhaps even a unit or project on Carson, himself.

And their kids’ attention spans notwithstanding, adults may appreciate the sense of reassuring calm and stability that come from being reminded by Carson of America’s most fundamental virtues.

At the very least, those who purchase it for the sticker price of $12.95 are contributing to a worthy cause—for which the book is, if nothing more, a nice parting gift.

The American Cornerstone Institute even announced in December that it was giving away 5,000 copies of the book to benefit foster-care programs in coordination with former First Lady Melania Trump.

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