You are never too young to engage in questions of political philosophy. That is the view of Dr Peter Hayes, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sunderland. Dr Hayes has just published a children’s book on Father Christmas, called The Present, which introduces young readers to ideas of global politics.
The book tells of the adventures of Ethel the Sensible Elf and Laurence the Ladybird Nosed Reindeer, as they try to restore sanity to a North Pole that has become geared to the production of a huge number of expensive brand name presents.
“Father Christmas is, of course, magical, but his Christmas gift giving involves him in a number of serious real world issues,” says Dr Hayes. “These issues include the role of large companies in creating a consumerist culture; the working conditions of people making Christmas presents; the regimentation and surveillance that underpins our modern consumerist society; the increasingly hard border between those within the industrial core and those outside it, and the contribution of consumerism to global warming.
“All of these international political issues lie behind the annual appearance of Father Christmas.”
The Present does not try and answer what we should do about all this, but the book does raise questions, and encourages children and their families to think about, discuss and perhaps even argue over these matters.
“Christmas is notorious for family arguments, and these can leave people feeling fraught, “says Dr Hayes. “But political arguments are different; they are about public matters not private ones, so everyone can enjoy a good debate without feeling personally affronted.
“If your family is argumentative during the Christmas holidays, the political implications of Father Christmas are an ideal subject to argue about!”
The Present by Peter Hayes is available from online book retailers.