...why do we tell stories to our children? In my experience, mostly it is to get them to shut up.
Ah, writers and children's book lovers, if you want to get really, really angry, read the New Yorker piece Goodnight Mush: The Year in Picture Books
Written by critic Elizabeth Kolbert, it describes the picture book as an "instrument of control" and then proceeds to demonstrate how some classic picture books — such as Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Madeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans, Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban — pretend that children have power only to bring them down in the end.
The tension, or, if you prefer, bad faith implicit in this arrangement is itself one of the great themes of bedtime literature, and many of the tales now regarded as classics celebrate children as artists (and artists as children), only, in the end, to sell them both out.
Meanwhile, picture books for today's "post-spanking set"tend to do just the opposite — "that the old order be uprooted and the fool become the king".
After a humourless discussion of scatological PBs — Walter the Farting Dog Goes on a Cruise by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murrey, (illustrator Audrey Colman),Gee Whiz! It's All ABout Pee by Susan E. Goodman (illustrator Elwood H. Smith) and The Truth About Poop by Goodman and Smith again — she proceeds to describe unsavory details of the beloved author Margaret Wise Brown, whose bedtime book Goodnight Moon celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
Never have I read an article on children's books that sucked the joy out of them. Never have I read an article on children's books that made me want to cry.