The article explores the background to the children’s literature of America and Britain, suggesting that British history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.
It’s a thoroughly entertaining and learned read. I’ve never considered that the differences were to do with early British, and particularly Scottish, pagan folklore that informed the fantasy element of our stories. Or, that the British countryside, dotted with castles and our love of rural charms infuse our children’s tales.
Meanwhile, the American stories rely on the value of the protestant work ethic, and are rooted in realism. Contrast, as author Colleen Gillard does, the differences between The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter, which are all fantasies, to the American children’s classics Little Women, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that are ‘more realistic portraits of day-to-day life in the towns and farmlands’.
Quite a major difference between our two nations explained.