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The Children's Story

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  884 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
It was a simple incident in the life of James Clavell—a talk with his young daughter just home from school—that inspired this chilling tale of what could happen in twenty-five quietly devastating minutes. He writes, "The Children's Story came into being that day. It was then that I really realized how vulnerable my child's mind was —any mind, for that matter—under controll ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published October 2nd 1989 by Dell (first published 1981)
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Jul 07, 2012 Tracey rated it it was amazing
As a teacher, this book reminds you that young children can 'hang' on to every word and idea a teacher supports. It reminded me of an incident in my elementary classroom few years ago. I can't remember the specific topic of discussion, but one of the students said, "I like how you present information." I told her that it is very important to do your OWN research, not rely on news media outlets, especially in today's world. She said, "Well, I am going to rely on you! You do enough research for th ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Ohr rated it really liked it
Wow. I feel like I shouldn't give such a high grade to this book, for fear of being associated with many of the reviewers who loved this book while entirely misinterpreting and perverting Clavell's message. This isn't an anti-Communist, pro-God, Jay-zus luhvs Uhmerika book, you slack-jawed yokels! The point is that we should not surrender our critical thinking skills nor give up our freedom of speech/expression/THOUGHT.
Aug 20, 2008 Trin rated it it was ok
In a conquered U.S., a classroom of young kids is given a new teacher who, in less than an hour, brainwashes them and makes them evil little communists! Or something. I know I’m supposed to find this book “chilling,” but I didn’t really buy it. Though Communism is never explicitly stated to be the Big Bad, this book has the Cold War era in which it was written stamped all over it. Clavell’s New Teacher gets the students to quickly dismiss such symbols as the Pledge of Allegiance and the American ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it
Absolutely, totally and completely chilling...! How can such a small book, such a short book, pack such punch?! Clavell explores how impressionable many young minds can be and how easily many children can be influenced by adults. The scene is a classroom filled with children and a teacher. A teacher who is replaced by another. Another who is younger and looks smart and smells clean. Another who, through a variety of tactics, manipulates the children and does so with such ease. Within minutes. Wi ...more
Rhonda Cooper Russell
Oct 20, 2012 Rhonda Cooper Russell rated it really liked it
There are many lessons that can come from such a short story. Yes, there are details about certain things that children should know before reading this book with them. However, after learning for example the meaning a our nation's pledge, children in 5th grade and up can generate lively and informative discussions. If your family has a firm foundation in your faith and they are firm in their patriotic duties, then this book should not be feared. Read it first and decide if it will be right for y ...more
Scott Lee
Nov 04, 2011 Scott Lee rated it liked it
An interesting parable on the perils of ignorance, a sad commentary on the state of our civic awareness (which I'm sure is worse than it was when this was written), and--for me at least--a reminder of the strange power teacher's can have over children.

I have to admit with all the fiery rhetoric from both sides this story initially struck me as an overstated scare tactic (something Glen Beck might come up with as an accusation against myself and other public school teachers currently serving [we
May 03, 2015 isabelle rated it liked it
Extremely weird and mysterious, although extremely thought-provoking. After watching the video version I'm sort of shaken up though.

I question what we teach (and don't teach) to our children.
Beth Haynes
Oct 30, 2010 Beth Haynes rated it really liked it
(Yikes! Somehow I accidentally typed this review under "Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel. Sorry for those of you who received that "review!)

I had completely forgotten about this book until my daughter got in a jam and needed to do a power point on an outside reading book. The assignment was due the next day and she hadn't read a book yet. Oops.
So my husband pulled this off our shelf, she read it in about an hour, and was thoroughly intrigued by it.
My daughter hates to read (hence her predicam
May 30, 2015 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult-lit
What a bizarre, creepy book. I am not sure what to make of it. In fact, that's what I said when I finished it: Now what do I make of THAT!
Sep 06, 2009 Heidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a cautionary tale - a deceptively simple story about young students coming to school one day and finding their teacher gone, replaced by a young woman they don't want to like. But within half an hour she's won them over. Much to our dismay. Written during the Cold War, the story implies a communist takeover. This may not hold up with many of today's readers. I think it had more of an impact on me than it might have otherwise because I was a teacher at the time. Beyond any political discu ...more
Jul 12, 2015 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
My Mom randomly picked this up at the library yesterday! I'm so glad that she did!
Elizabeth Guzman
What is Clavell’s message in The Children’s Story? Clavell’s message in the story is people should follow what they believe and not what others say. In story, The Children’s Story, the new teacher is an excellent manipulator and has been hired to brainwash young children. She is able to brainwash the young children of their beliefs and put new beliefs their minds by simple actions proving her point. She is able to do this multiple times. As the new students asked the teacher questions, one quest ...more
Mar 22, 2015 Mars rated it did not like it
Considering it was written from the point of view of the U.S. in the Cold War, it's absolute hypocritical propaganda considering the things U.S. imperialists have done. VERY recently, a Native American student (who was forced to be a part of the U.S. education system instead of being allowed to be educated on his reserves) was suspended for teaching a fellow student a word in his language. Also recently (as in a few months ago), a teacher was fired for teaching ""too much"" African American hist ...more
Jan 15, 2011 Dawn rated it it was amazing
Wow, the very essence of why I family educate. We leave it to such happenstance, as a society, that those educating our children always have their best interests at heart. Reading this reminds me of a woman I heard at a liberty meeting that explained how faith was first removed from the curriculum, and the systematic take over of the schools by Nazi germany. Children have not developed critical thinking and are so easily led. I believe I will send a copy to all in my family with children.
Al E.
Feb 13, 2015 Al E. rated it it was amazing
Unlike anything else James Clavell ever wrote, The Children's Story is a short but powerful piece of literature cleverly demonstrating how young minds can be manipulated.
A war has ended, and 'normality' is to return to citizen's lives
...despite the fact that the citizens in this story were not the victors.
The story begins at the beginning of a school day. An old world-weary teacher is summarily dismissed while a new, young, unformed teacher steps in. She is met with dislike, distrust, and res
Mar 15, 2014 Beth rated it really liked it
A must-read for parents and teachers (it'll only take you 15 minutes!!!)....reminding us of the power of our words & influence on youth, AND the importance of thinking for yourself/critical thinking skills!!! Yes, we've heard a lot lately about critical thinking being a "21st Century/Next Generation" skill, but it is and always has been an "Any Generation" skill of the upmost importance!
Jul 02, 2010 Kristin rated it it was amazing
I don't want to reiterate what everyone has written. Yes, the book was written as an anti-communist book, however it can also be read in terms of any nation that publicly educates children in the way of civic duty. Compelling and thought provoking at the least.
Diane S ☔
Jun 28, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Very short yet very powerful book that show how very easy it is to influence a child's mind. To turn a child against something to someone and to bend their will to a specified agenda. Scary how easy it is to someone who knows exactly how to do it.
Heather Reisig
Jun 16, 2013 Heather Reisig rated it it was amazing
This is one of those stories that everyone should read. Not only does it show the power of teachers over our children, but it shows how easily and completely anyone can be brainwashed.
Excellent, easy-to-read anti-Communist/anti-totalitarian propaganda for the tween set. Imagine George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four adapted and presented by Mr. Rogers.
Jan 13, 2009 Cherilyn rated it it was amazing
I read this when i was in high school. I was amazed on how great insight James had on children. It's a must read for ALL parents, teachers as well.
Jun 11, 2016 Levi rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
It seemed similar to 1984 for me and it's interesting that this train of thought was as pervasive as it was during the early 1960s as it was. This was written at a time when the national concept of what it meant to be an American was different than what it is today, I think. It talks about the idea of 'pledging allegiance to the flag' and what it means.
An interesting book and understandably controversial. Every country has different ideas of brainwashing; every country goes about it differentl
Roslyn Ross
Dec 28, 2013 Roslyn Ross rated it really liked it
Fabulous satire of public education.
Jordyn Marcoe
Aug 30, 2013 Gale rated it it was amazing
"The Fragility of Democracy"

Clavell's mini masterpiece--a short but chilling read in one sitting--should be required (OK, that does not sound like freedom of choice, but...) by all Americans. We are a people who proudly consider ourselves patriotic and loyal to our country's heritage. Take nothing for granted, because Freedom is most definitely Not free; rather it is and always will be bought and maintained at great cost. Not only the cost of precious lives and cherished honor, but by the use of
Angela Hobbs
Mar 14, 2015 Angela Hobbs rated it it was amazing
chilling. this short read shows just how impressionable our children's minds easy it would be for a teacher in a government run school, if they had ulterior motives, how frighteningly easy it would be for them to persuade our children to question the existence of God in a matter of minutes. Not true story, but could be. God bless our country and schools as we fall more and more into socialist/communist ways. This is a book written so long ago, but hopefully not for our day.
Sep 19, 2013 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-top-20-books
A child's mind will be fill with the information of this life. Will you be there to put in the values you believe are important?

The Children's Story is a simple story of how easy it is to mold the innocent mind of a child. How easy it is to change their beliefs and how vulnerable we are to the teachings of those who teach our children.

If you've ever needed a nudge to be involved in the education of your children this could be the catalyst. A powerful story that will put the fear of handing over
Serena Carr
Nov 11, 2015 Serena Carr rated it liked it
This book was pretty mediocre. It's not bad but it isn't the best story i've ever read either. This book is about a classroom after a huge war. The teacher that was there got fired and replaced by a new more foreign type of teacher. She teaches the kids about the Pledge of Aliigance and rewards them regularly. Everybody but a kid named Johnny likes her. Johnny comes around to like her good spirit later on in the story.
Jan 28, 2014 Kathy rated it really liked it
A short story published in 1964, cold war time. A new teacher, from the land of the winners, teaches young children the new ways. Kinda scary. I think I would have liked this to have been a long story, perhaps I should check out more of James Clavell's writing.

It's hard to rate a short story, but it made me think (and cringe), so I will give it 4/5.
Oct 28, 2010 BoekenTrol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in how the mind of young children works
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: Hakkalina

This book was a gift of my BC friend. Knowing I like James Clavell, she thought I might like this book by him too.
And she was right. I think it is not really a book for children, I think it is more for teens. Children do not have very much insight in how 'people work', how people can manipulate and be manipulated.

For grown ups it can be an eye opener, makes very clear how easy it is to maniputale children, let them believe what you want. Even the ones th
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How can you read this book and not be moved? 4 18 Jun 28, 2013 05:49AM  
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James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and POW. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with such films as The Great Escape, The Fly and To Sir, with Love.


James Clavell. (2007, November 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
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