The “Rainbow Fish” is a best-selling kid’s book. While the book has beautiful illustrations, it has a dangerous message that teaches kids a dangerous message about giving away what is theirs to make other people happy.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So ,a few episodes ago, Emma and I dissected the book, the Lorax. Have you read The Lorax? Was that?
Connor: Oh, Yeah. It’s been a while though.
Brittany: Loved it. But, as I’ve been like rereading it or watching the movie as an adult, I noticed that it’s pretty anti-capitalism. So, that’s what we discussed. So I think it’s important to talk about these things because kids at a young age are fed a lot of nonsense about free markets that will help shape their outlook on look or in life forever, you know, and I think that’s probably a primary reason why the Tuttle Twins books came to be a thing, right? I think you wanted a way to kind of fight back or combat these books that are teaching kids incorrect principles about the way the world works. So the next two episodes we do are gonna be called what? A Variation on a Theme. So we’re in a little vocab lesson here, but that means similar principles, but there’s gonna be different examples. So like a different spin on them. And in music, I don’t know if you’re into classical music of all kinds.
Connor: My wife is. So there’s that.
Brittany: Really? Okay. No, that counts. So like, Mozart and Beethoven, they would always call these things variation, I mean, speak variations on a theme, right? Where you’d hear like a similar like melody, but then there’d be like a little twist on it. Like they add a different instrument. So, that’s what that means. So we’re gonna talk about sharing, that’s gonna be the theme that we’re gonna be doing some, some different, discussions on. So we’re gonna kick this off by talking about what I think is the worst children’s book ever written, which is The Rainbow Fish. And Connor, we talked a little bit before we pressed record, but you’re not completely familiar with the book, right?
Connor: Not totally familiar. I, know, I mean, you’re right earlier where you say that, the Tuttle Twins was born in kind of response to the fact that not only were there not books that were teaching, you know, important values and correct principles, but there were a lot of books out there teaching bad ideas. Yeah. And oftentimes, like with the Lorax, right? Like, it sounded like this was your experience and it was certainly mine. A lot of kids just kind of read this, oh, it’s a fun story, and you kind of like start to assimilate these ideas because they’re presented in a way that just seems fun and cute and whatever. But then you start to realize, well, wait a minute, that’s actually like a bad idea and a bad premise. And so, I understand given, the topic we’re talking about that, you know, the rainbowfish presents a similar issue.
Brittany: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, we’ve talked a lot too about how storytelling is how people learn. And I think, you know, I think Tuttle twin’s books are actually a good proof of this, is that teaches people principles, right? You learn through story and you go, oh, hey, yeah, that makes sense. So, okay, so how did I discover this terrible book? Well, my mom took me to a book fair, which I don’t know exists anymore, but Connor, I’m sure you’ve been to a book fairs. Oh yeah. It was awesome. Your school, like a library or your auditorium, would turn into like, I guess what now it would be called a popup, like a bookstore, right? You got a bookstore in your school and your class got to go and you’d, you know, ask your parents for money and you could buy books. You just felt like the world was your oyster. Like, I don’t know why it was such a cool feeling that your school turned into a bookstore, but it was.
Connor: Because Brittany, cause the internet did not yet exist, right?
Brittany: Is that what it’s, I guess you’re right. There was no internet. Oh, man. What was, what was it like back then? Awful. So awful. So that is where I saw the Rainbowfish and the book. And I’ll let you guys Google it cause I don’t wanna give it any promotion. It’s the most beautifully illustrated book I’ve ever seen. That’s what gets you, is you look at it and you’re like, oh my goodness. It’s, it looks most beautiful under-the-sea type book you’ve ever seen. The pages were glossy, some of them shimmered and I read it over and over again. But, you know, the lesson, the book Todd, is one that, you know, I think I knew what it was cause it was one that we heard in school a lot, cuz you hear it over and over again and it’s, you know, I’m gonna, we’re gonna get into that intermittent Connor, even though he has not read the book. I entrusted him, I taught him all about the plot and I’ve entrusted him to tell you guys the plot. So I’m let Connor tell you.
Connor: Alright, so here’s the plot. It’s, there’s this beautiful fish, it’s the rainbow fish and there’s these sparkly scales that it has. And one by one other fish in the sea tell the rainbow fish how beautiful his, you know, metallic scales are and they ask for one. Now the rainbow rainbowfish loves his scales. So I guess this is a spoiler alert, right? If you want to go get the book or I’d be surprised,
Brittany: Don’t get It.
Connor: Yes, but since we’re recommending you not get the book, then you can just listen to the summit. So Rainbowfish, right? He loves the scales, he doesn’t want to give them away, but eventually, the entire community of sea creatures decides that no one should play with him. They think he’s selfish for not giving them his scales.
Brittany: I was gonna make a shellfish joke there. Shellfish, you know, I will resist.
Connor: Shellfish. that was like, in jeopardy the Saturday Night Live. The parents might remember, who was it? I can’t remember the actor’s name, but he says I must ask you a question. Sean Connery, right?
Brittany: Sean Connery was who they were playing on. Yeah.
Connor: All the kids are like, what are they talking about? So, okay, all the sea creatures, they’re like, no one should play with the rainbow fish. So they think he’s selfish. And so the rainbow fish, he then talks with a starfish, the only sea creature that’s still talking to him. And he is told to go visit the wise octopus that lives in a cave. So the octopus tells him that the answer to his problems is to share what is rightfully his with all the creatures in the sea. So the rainbow fish doesn’t like this answer, but he doesn’t like everyone treating him like he’s a bad fish. So he goes around and gives everyone his scales until he has one left. So this is supposed to be some kind of like noble act because everyone in the sea is equal and you know, whatever. But Brittany, like obviously as we talk about the plot and when it’s, we summarize it that way, it’s clear why, at least to us, but we’ll get into this why that’s so problematic.
Brittany: Yeah. So I mean there’s a lot to say here. Again, this book just really riles me up. But there’s this whole thing in this book where it’s if you don’t wanna give up what’s yours, you are a bad person like that. That is what the whole book is based on. If you don’t share this stuff, no one in society is gonna talk to you. You don’t belong in society. You know, you should be ashamed of having nice things. That’s another thing that really stuck out to me. And you know, you should be forced to share with people who don’t have those things. And I think it sets kids up to live in a society where politicians and even people in our own neighborhoods, you know, make us feel the same way. Okay? If you don’t share what you have, you’re better.
Connor: So, I wanna know, did this author of this book who probably made some money, did this author then share that money with everyone else? Did he keep none of it for himself or only a teeny tiny bit, but then give it all away? Like, did this person practice what he preached? I’m gonna doubt that that’s the case.
Brittany: I actually did a little Googling cuz there’s been some book reviews from Liberty Minded people who also hate this book. Nobody’s been able to find any proof that he was, you know, benevolent enough to give up his money. And that’s what I think is another theme, right? For these people who think this way, who think that everybody should be forced to share what’s theirs. It’s always bad when someone else does it. But it’s fine if you know if you don’t do it. And this reminds me of, I don’t know if you remember a couple of years ago, somebody did an experiment where they had college kids ask, so the socialists on campus, like, Hey, do you want to help give some of your grade to somebody who didn’t do as well? Yeah. Right? Do you want to redistribute your grade as they call it? And the kids were outraged like, no, that’s my grade. I earned it. And then they kind of flipped it and was like, okay, well what about you asking me to pay all this money in taxes? So I think that’s interesting.
Connor: I love that. I think of, I’ve seen in past years how typically it’s the Democrats who are the ones saying we need to tax more tax the rich and spend more on welfare, right? Have more welfare programs, which means we’re gonna have this redistribution of money more socialism. So typically that’s the Democrats, although the Republicans do it plenty as well. But Democrats a little more so. And what’s so interesting to me is when you look at the people who are the most vocal at demanding that other people pair, pay their fair share, and demanding that we help the poor and so forth. When you look at the Bernie Sanders and the Joe Bidens and all these people, and you can look at their tax records, because they’re made public, you’re able to see how much charitable contributions these people made. How much are they actually taking their own money and spending to the poor? And every study, every review, every analysis I’ve seen shows that the Democrats, especially the more socialist and progressive Democrats who are the most vocal about this type of issue, are always near the bottom. They are hardly giving any of their own money. they are all about taking other people’s money to give to other people in need. But they do not by and large at all practice what they preach. And so to me that’s hypocrisy, that’s claiming to believe something and support something that you yourself do not support. It’s one thing to say, I gave away all my money and now I live in this tiny little home and I think other people should follow me. Or it’s one thing to even say that, hey, we should make taxpayers do what I did. Like I don’t like that idea. Cuz still we shouldn’t force people to be charitable, but at least that person is them themselves living what they believe and what they’re arguing that other people should do. But when you have Bernie Sanders who has I think three homes and he’s, you know, decrying the rich, even though he’s in the top like, you know, 1%.Yeah. himself. And so he is attacking the rich and let’s take their money. It’s like, dude, how much money are you giving like, let’s see what you’re actually doing for this book. The Rainbowfish, there was actually a response called the Starboard’s Fish.
Brittany: Which side note it’s because there’s a radio host named Neil Bortz and he called this book I think Garbage. And so they made a response in honor of him. So that’s where it’s Star Boards.
Connor: So, in this one, there’s this dull starfish that’s counseled that in, or he’s told, right, that like, in order to truly shine, he must earn the honor by taking his unique skills and creating value that’s attractive and wanted by other people. And so, you know, using the competitive advantage she already has. Like, this is an idea where we have unique skills, we have abilities, we have certain talents. And so when you can use those to serve other people, then it’s a win-win situation. It’s not like the rainbowfish where you’re taking away part of yourself and giving it to someone else. That’s a win-lose someone else is gaining and you’re losing. We’ve talked Brittany a lot about how entrepreneurship is it’s win-win and it’s service. Yeah. You are finding a way to serve other people and in the process, they’re rewarding you financially. And that is a win-win. It’s not here to take away part of me and then you’ll benefit and that’s somehow more fair or equitable. No. Instead, we should have this win-win approach, like a starfish issue, you know, trying to apply his unique skills to benefit others. And in the process, he’s benefited himself.
Brittany: You’re exactly right. And you know, one thing I’ve noticed, you mentioned something a couple of minutes ago where you said, you know, forced to share. So I wanna talk about, you know, sharing when you’re not being forced to. And in my classroom when I was a teacher and taught third grade, I did not make anybody share because I hated that. I remember when I was a kid and it was like, oh, Brittany brought her markers to school today. Brittany, share your markers with the class. And it’s like, what? Like, my mom bought these markers, you didn’t buy these markers. So I had a rule that nobody had to share with anybody in my class. But the funny thing is when I didn’t make them share, people were more willing to share. And I thought that was really kind of fascinating to watch as a teacher. You know, it’s like a social experiment and you know, our right to our own property is so natural that I like to look at like babies when you give them a rattle. Have you ever tried to take anything from a baby Connor?
Connor: Oh, boy, yes.
Brittany: Grip-like grips of. Oh yeah. I don’t even know how this happens. They’re like Superman. But, I always think of a little analogy like the baby doesn’t want that rattle taken away so badly cuz even the baby, it’s like this natural inclination to hold on to what is yours. And if you wanna prove me wrong, please go try to take a toy from a baby. Good luck.
Connor: I think this sets up people up to live in a society where they’re expected to not only give away their physical possessions, but the even their talents as well. Their time, their energy, you know, I mean we can save some of this for the next episode, but you get into this issue where it’s not just about resources. It’s not just about taking, some money or even property from one person and then transferring it to the next. This is much deeper. This is your time, it’s your life. You know because time is our most scarce resource, we can never get it back. We can never, you know, create more of it or go back in time yet at least And so when you’re taking something from someone else, you’re actually taking the time that they spent on acquiring that if I had to work for 20 hours for, you know, this, I don’t know, a hundred dollars that I have, but then that a hundred dollars is taken and given to someone else. It’s like I was enslaved for those 20 hours. I was forced to spend that time to help someone else rather than doing it voluntarily or doing it for myself or my family. So it’s a bigger issue than just the money. It’s also a part of us and a part of our life.
Brittany: No, you’re absolutely right. So, you know, to wrap it up as we’re running a time here, the moral, the story is the rainbowfish teaches kids that they are bad and they are selfish people if they don’t share with others. And I think we see that in a lot of forms of schooling today, you know, during show and tell. If they still have that, who even knows, you know, you have to pass your item around to the whole class so they can look at it. And that’s always been weird to me too. I remember having to do that and toddlers. Toddlers are scolded when they don’t share in preschool. And what happens when that, when we’re taught that is kids grow up with a mindset that in order for us to be good people, and I’m saying that in quotations, like, you have to be willing to share all your property. And it’s not that it’s a bad thing to share, right? If you want to share, that’s so great, but we shouldn’t be forced to do it. So Connor, I dunno if you have any final thoughts.
Connor: Yeah. And beyond force, I think like pressure, right? Because I think parents aren’t necessarily, and sometimes maybe they’re forcing a child to share, you know, you’re being too selfish, they rip it outta their hands and give it to the other kid. And now, you know, you got more crying. But I think more often than not, it’s this cultural pressure and expectation kind of like you’re saying, you’re only a good kid if you, share now yes, voluntarily and have your own free will and, and, and getting to that point where it’s like, look, I have no need of this. You’re welcome to use it when I’m not, or whatever. But it’s this win-lose thing that I think is the problem that we’re saying, no, you need to give away something that’s yours. You need to, and it’s one thing to let someone borrow something for like an hour and then return it if it’s like a toy and then it comes back to you. It’s another thing like the rainbow fish to give something permanently, right? I’m gonna rip it off or I’m gonna take this money I earned and give it to you and I can’t get it back. So there’s a difference between like temporarily sharing and permanently sharing. And the problem is when you do it through the government, it’s all permanent. They’re taking things from you and you’re not gonna get it back. And so the lesson of the rainbowfish is even more problematic for that reason. So if you got this book at home, just go ahead and throw it away. Do yourself and favor.
Brittany: Buy Tuttle twins and stuff.
Connor: Yeah. Don’t even donate to the library cuz you’ll just hurt some other kid who gets bad ideas. Donate some Tut twins books instead, Brittany. thanks as always, great for chatting. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.