Once upon a time, writing a children’s book was a task only undertaken by the most valiant of heroes—or, at the very least, men and women who dedicated their writing careers to the service of entertaining children and appeasing parents. It was difficult work, but it was a calling. Now, any celebrity—be they A-list or D-list—can and in fact very often will swing for the fences and write a children’s book without any prior writing experience or even children of their own from which to draw inspiration.
The latest initiate into the Celebrity Books for Kids club is Lil Nas X, who announced on Twitter his latest project, C is for Country, to be published by Random House. The picture book will be a ride through the alphabet starring an animated version of Nas and his horse, Panini. “Parents who play Grammy winner Lil Nas X’s 12-times platinum single Old Town Road on repeat will want to take their kids and ride on over to this ABC picture book from the music mega-star,” Random House writes on the page promoting the upcoming book. The same page even boasts, “plenty of hidden surprises for Nas’s biggest fans.” Who knew that Lil Nas X had such a strong fan base in the 3-7 age demographic? Everyone except me, I guess.
Lil Nas X will find himself in good company with the likes of Channing Tatum, Tori Spelling, Jay Leno, Kelly Clarkson, Jimmy Fallon, Madonna, and B.J Novak. Increasingly, writing a children’s book is a staple of the celebrity money-making playbook, as reliable as doing a perfume commercial or perhaps some sort of lifestyle thing. However, there’s an old saying that youth is wasted on the young, but it’s really celebrity that’s wasted on them. Children cannot appreciate the vast complexities of Channing Tatum and his meteoric rise from “famous white dancer in Step Up” to “famous white stripper in Magic Mike.” The nuances of that kind of acting are lost on children.
These kinds of books are a potential breeding ground for tension between parent and child. There’s a decent chance any parent willing to pay money for a children’s book written by B.J Novak is a huge Office fan; the pressure is now on the child to find some sort of cultural significance in Novak’s work and form that Novak-fandom bond with their parent. What if the kid doesn’t take to it? What if the kid has better taste and would prefer to be read Go the Fuck to Sleep instead? How do families bounce back from these things?
If you are a parent whose child loves Lil Nas X, C is for Country drops in January. Let us know if your kid spots any of those easter eggs.