The authors call it a “storybook for nonbelievers,” and say that it fills an empty space in the children’s storybook market. They’ve got a Kickstarter going to fund their storybook, so they can keep creative control, and nonbelievers must agree that the book is needed because they’re already well on their way to enough donations to move forward with publishing.
The title is There Aren’t Monsters Under Your Bed, and much of the story is a fairly typical childhood tale — the story of a little girl, Connie, who thinks there might be monsters under her bed, and of her mother’s crusade to show her it isn’t so.
The storybook for nonbelievers, though, is different in a key way: It builds up the monster as an analogy to God, with the main character’s younger brother, Izzie Dean, standing in for proponents of Intelligent Design. (Note the shared initials.) Throughout the storybook, ID steadily insists that monsters do exist — if they’re proven not to be under the bed, perhaps they’re hiding in the closet, he suggests. When no evidence can be found of monsters anywhere, he still isn’t swayed by nonbelievers. Instead, he suggests that perhaps the monsters have simply hidden all the evidence.
No creepy crawly
They probably hid them.
I’m sure of that.
Connie’s mother doesn’t stop at hunting for evidence of monsters in her room — she calls a troop of monster nonbelievers, the Monster Patrol, to take Connie throughout the universe, and into the past and future. They don’t find a speck of evidence for monsters anywhere.
Still, ID insists that they can’t be sure there are no monsters. The Monster Patrol explains this to Connie, saying that people will always insist there is a doubt, but that it’s clear that there are no monsters out there.
The clincher, though, is the end of the storybook, addressed not to Connie but the young reader, in which the analogy is completed, making it evident that the term “nonbelievers” isn’t referring only to nonbelievers in monsters.
So if you’re afraid
of things you can’t see.
Or if somebody’s God
makes you quake at the knees.
Be smarter than smart
and freer than free.
Just say with a smirk
“prove it to me.”
It’s certainly true, as author and illustrator Leon Dekelbaum and Matt Smith assert, that there are numerous books out there to confirm children’s belief in God, and not too many that are aimed nonbelievers. There are books for atheist parents, such as Parenting Beyond Belief, that addresses challenges in parenting without religion, and books like Richard Dawkins’ Magic of Reality, which explains evolution and the age of the Earth on a child-friendly level, while comparing Christian beliefs to superstitions through the ages.
However, none of these are a bedtime storybook, and for nonbelievers, fun stories that address belief in God — or rather, the lack thereof — are indeed few and far between.
The question remains whether it is a niche that needed to be filled — would you read your kids a storybook for nonbelievers?
[Images: There Are No Monsters Kickstarter]