I have missed reading The New Yorker. Here are some excerpts from a fantastic overview of contemporary picture books that address toddler behavior.
Well worth the read. Key quotes:
“In this confrontation-averse age of parenting, in which the “escalation” of emotions is considered a mark of failure, a favorite way of inculcating discipline is the reading of picture books. The language of a good children’s story is precise and consistent, offering a genial way for parents to address misbehavior.”
“Like the novel or the sitcom, the picture book records shifts in domestic life: newspaper-burrowing fathers have been replaced by eager, if bumbling, diaper-changers. Similarly, the stern disciplinarians of the past—in Robert McCloskey books, parents instruct children not to cry—have largely vanished. The parents in today’s stories suffer the same diminution in authority felt by the parents reading them aloud (an hour past bedtime). The typical adult in a contemporary picture book is harried and befuddled, scurrying to fulfill a child’s wishes and then hesitantly drawing the line. And the default temperament of the child is bratty, though often in a way so zesty and creative that the behavioral transgressions take on the quality of art.”
“Many of today’s popular picture books don’t even bother with storytelling; they present misdeeds as pure spectacle.”
“It goes without saying that we parents should love our children unconditionally, but the implication here is that the slightest gesture of sweetness trumps a day’s worth of belligerence.”