'Go the F-k to Sleep' backlash begins: Are you offended by the best-seller or still think it's f--ing hilarious?


Image Credit: Courtesy of Akashic Books

It was bound to happen. Like anything else that becomes a pop culture sensation, Adam Mansbach’s Go the F–k to Sleep has become the subject of inevitable backlash and criticism (and will soon no doubt be followed by the backlash against the backlash).

Mansbach’s hilarious and sometimes all-too-relatable ode to a stubborn child who simply won’t go to bed became a hit even before it was released (it was No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list nearly a month before it was available for purchase) and has continued to be a best-seller since. Since then, the book, written in the prose of classic children’s books but with some way more adult language, has become a pop culture phenomenon, being read by the likes of Werner Herzog and Samuel L. Jackson (the latter’s reading is available for free download on Audible.com.)

While the book has been mostly loved by critics and exhausted parents/babysitters/next-door neighbors alike, some aren’t nearly as amused. In a post on CNN.com, Karen Spears Zacharias explained her confusion and worries about the book’s success. In addition to calling it “crass in concept and execution,” Zacharias also argues, “The violent language of Go the F–k to Sleep is not the least bit funny, when one considers how many neglected children fall asleep each night praying for a parent who’d care enough to hold them, nurture them and read to them.”

While that’s an issue we should all be aware of regardless of what book we’re reading, it’s hard to imagine that was anything close to what Mansbach was intending to accomplish when writing his unquestionably un-PC lullaby mostly intended to give parents a laugh. But the passage from the guest column that will likely garner the most criticism, comes when child development Dr. David Arredondo asks readers to, “Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos.” Okay, but this particular book is about babies, nothing else. As Gawker put it, “This is a false equivalency. Children are not a race or religion, they are just small people with weak bladder control and minimal literacy.”

While I don’t necessarily agree with the backlash or argument against Go The F–k To Sleep, however, I can understand the nature of the beast. For everyone who laughed at Carlos the baby getting hit with the cop car door in The Hangover, there were just as many horrified parents who couldn’t imagine making light of an injured tot. But does laughing at or not laughing at something like that make you a bad parent? No, not unless you tried the stunt out on your kid (in which case, yeah, you’re a very bad parent). Because, much like the infant who played Carlos in The Hangover, it’s safe to assume that while Go The F–k To Sleep is being read by sleep-deprived parents desperate for humor, no babies were actually harmed.

But, I’m curious to see what you think, PopWatchers. Were you offended by the undeniably salty language of Mansbach’s Go The F–k to Sleep or simply relieved that another parent understood your grief? Should parents be upset by the book or laugh along at the obviously satirical piece? Vote in the poll below!

Read more:
Samuel L. Jackson reads ‘Go the F––k to Sleep’
Werner Herzog reads ‘Go the F–k to Sleep’
EW.com Shelf Life

Comments (60 total) Add your comment
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  • Allen

    I think you have to be a parent. I read the book in 5 minutes at Border’s and I thought, You’ve got to be F***in’ kidding me.

    • Mr. PC

      I don’t think you have to be a patent. I think you have to have a sense of humor.

      • Mr. PC

        Sorry parent, not patent

      • harry

        Thank you PC!

      • Allen

        Got a sense of humor. But the “joke” is best captured in a greeting card for the parent of a toddler. As Peter said below, the “joke” got real stale, real fast. Sure I laughed and didn’t find it offensive in the least, but a whole book? I was exasperated after I read the same tired thing by the end and thought, Get the F*** to the End already.

    • Brick

      It’s not the story that makes kids fall asleep, it’s the boring tone of our voice.

  • Vegas Guy

    I’m on a plane to HI last year (everyone knows where this is going already but too bad). I took a 2AM flight. Figured I’d sleep on the plane and be ready for my vacation!! Noooooo…. kid screamed the entire flight.

    If I had that book with me at the time I’d have handed it to the parent without fail.

    Get a sense of humor people.

  • DGH

    No I am not offended just like I wasn’t offended when Tracy Morgan said he was gonna stab his kid. Both made me chuckle just a little bit.

  • Tim

    That CNN article was absolutely obnoxious. That woman is a troll looking for page views, and I know you’re owned by the same company, but come on, don’t give her the pleasure of thinking her flaming dung heap of an article was newsworthy.

  • Peter

    First off, I listened to SLJ’s reading. The swearing-children’s book dichotomy is funny for about three verses. It doesn’t get any more clever than that.

    As for offensiveness, I’m not personally offended. But I don’t think Zacharias is totally off-base. It’s obviously targeted at parents who love their children, and it’s easy to forget that that’s not every parent.

    Yes, I am a parent.

    • Elaine Bennes

      I agree with Peter 100%

  • Renee

    Not offended at all. I’m a mom of 2, and I’ve absolutely uttered those words (in my own head, of course!) countless times. In fact, if you’re a parent and you haven’t said that, you’re lying. I plan to purchase 2 copies – one for each of my sons, to give them upon the birth of their first child.

    • Jess

      What frustrated parent of kids who find countless reasons to get out of bed hasn’t uttered those words (in their head of course!). I know I have quite a few times!!! The author of the CNN article needs to locate her sense of humor and read the book again I’m sure she’ll laugh hysterically!

    • Kristen

      I thought those very words last night when my son was refusing to go down for the night and it was almost an hour past MY bedtime. He’s teething, so it’s excusible, but it doesn’t make it less frustrating!

    • Shasta

      The people whining about this book haven’t read it. It’s obviously about a parent who loves his child, but is exhausted. There are subtler messages, too, about feeling like a failure as a parent, which I’m sure every parent has felt at 2 am at some point! I found it touching, nevermind the F-word.

      • Traci

        Agree completely. I get the feeling most of the people who complain about things like this have never read, watched or listened to whatever they are complaining about.

  • GG

    The author of the CNN article is trying to create a controversy so she can sell her book. I don’t remember any “violent” language in the book. Rude, maybe, but not violent.

  • Wendy

    Lighten up CNN lady. Only crappy parents would use violent language with their kids and sure as heck wouldn’t read them a book in the first place! Sheesh.

  • Bobby’s Robot

    F**k ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

  • AT

    I found it amusing. I have a 2-year-old and there have been many nights that I find myself saying the book title in my head. If you actually read or listen to the book, it’s pretty obvious that this is a loved child, but the situation is one of those nights when said child is trying to push boundaries with a very tired parent.

  • ugh.

    I feel that the book is more for a laugh than an actual kids book. It’s not like you would accidently purchase it and then find out that it’s (hilariously) vulgar. If you are offended, don’t read it.

  • Kristin

    I read a comment on another article about the book who went on and on about how obscene the book was, how she couldn’t believe anyone would feel that way about their child, etc., and I could only think that she was the most delusional person in the world. Speaking as the parent of a toddler who NEVER wants to go to bed, this book made me laugh so hard I cried. I lived that book some nights. Who hasn’t, on occasion, thought that their kid was being a sh*t about something? Get a sense of humor, people! No child is perfect and certainly no PARENT is perfect. Sometimes, you have to laugh just as hard at the crappy aspects of parenting as you do the fun stuff.

  • Dicazi

    I HATE PC. And every Jew, black, Muslim and Latino has BEEN a baby. Most of them will HAVE babies.
    And I can imagine parents just having fought with a stubborn kid reading this book and laughing instead of getting mad at the little one.

  • Marc

    That’s it. I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had enough. The irreversable, unstoppable, and completely mind-numbingly inane PUSSIFICATION of our country has finally reached a crescendo. Really? Really CNN lady? It’s a cute little fake storybook for adults! Are you out of you’re f-ing MIND! We are so sensitive these days! EVERYTHING offends us anymore. There is always some whiny-a$$ victim crying about something. I think this all started when they made playgrounds out of foam and plastic. When I was little the monkey bars were rusted and the slide was a white-hot sheet of metal. When we fell, we skinned out knees and it hurt, but we learned. I swear in 50 years we’re all gonna be chicks….

    • Wardo

      That was awesome!
      I think that everyday.

    • Elaine Bennes

      “I swear in 50 years we’re all gonna be chicks”
      That will be amazing! Sooo looking forward to it! The world will be a much better place

    • JMB in FL

      As a chick who grew up with the same kind of playground you did, I learned to be tough, too, so I think you need to rethink your “we’re all gonna be chicks” statement. Not offended, just think you need to broaden your scope. How about, “we’re all gonna be immature whiny dumb-a$$es”? Generally, I agree with your point, but I don’t think it’s a gender thing. I blame Barney (“you’re special”? No. You’re unique. No one is special, because we all deserve equal treatment).
      /end rant

      • Squishmar


    • Lena

      @Marc – You just said what I’ve been saying for years. This whole PC BS is getting out of control. You forgot to mention that when we were kids and played a sport they actually kept score there was a winning team and a losing team. It taught us that sometimes you try your best but you lose and to lose gracifully. Nowadays kids are not taught that life is hard and that sometimes you won’t get what you want but you deal with it.

  • LisaMama

    It’s funny because it’s true – I am the parents of 2 boys, and have had this thought more than once (but not said it outloud!). It’s not a book for kids, and the book doesn’t advocate violence or abuse. It’s just a funny ADULT way to express normal parental frustration.

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