Things That Appear In Picture Books More Than In Real Life

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

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