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September 1976

Bedtime Stories

Author Affiliations

John F. Kennedy Institute Johns Hopkins Hospital

Am J Dis Child. 1976;130(9):1037. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1976.02120100127029

Sir.—The two articles on reading bedtime stories to children in your February 1976 issue1.2 prompted the following reflections.

Both articles appear to stress the fairy story as something to be read and listened to for the purpose (among others) of language stimulation. But Victorian children's literature is actually the continuation of a long folk tradition of oral transmission not wholly unlike that which preserved the Greek epics, the Old Testament, and the Scandinavian Eddas. Such stories echo a primal matriarchal culture, oftentimes predominantly grandmaternal. Much of the modern maternal aversion to faerie literature can be seen to reflect both its apparent sexist bias (despite the fact that many of literature's most heroic female figures appear therein) as well as its retention of magical modes of thought and action. Because Piaget is often the victim of gross misinterpretation in this country by those who look to his stages of

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