Objects like tops and toy trains appear again and again in children’s books despite their absence from the lives of most contemporary children.

– Words About Pictures, Perry Nodelman

To that list I’ll add:

  • fathers reading newspapers in the kitchen
  • mothers wearing aprons in the kitchen
  • white people
  • two storied houses with nice views from the top windows
  • boys (at a ratio of two to one). For more on this see the research of Janet McCabe
  • middle class interior decor and big grassy yards
  • tidy kid bedrooms
  • patchwork quilts
  • patterned wallpaper
  • orphans
  • beds with wooden footboards and headboards
  • old-style TVs with rabbit-ear antennae on top
  • symmetrical-looking trees that look good to climb (or shinny down)
  • healthy, green lawns and colourful flowerbeds
  • blue skies with white, fluffy clouds
  • farmyard animals on hobby farms
  • old women dressed like they’re from the 1870s
  • little children sleeping in their own beds all night
  • Americans
  • solitary goldfish in round bowls
  • dark forests
  • all-knowing pet dogs
  • retired grandparents with all the time and patience in the world
  • parents who don’t know a single thing about their kids’ imaginary friends
  • brown bears
  • wolves
  • big, open fireplaces
  • domestic thieves with torches who come at night
Baddies appear in picture books more than in real life

Fireplace from 101 Dalmatians