Lots of stories for little kids have kings and queens, not many seem to have presidents, prime ministers, mayors, etc. I don’t fully understand this. I mean, I see that these stories are traditional, or imitate traditional forms, and so it makes sense that you’d have a king or queen rather than a president. But there are lots of other traditional forms of government. You can see some examples in children’s literature, but they’re clearly exceptions. (For example, the wolves in The Jungle Book have a tribal council, and the animals in Winnie the Pooh don’t have any government at all.) I guess what I’m asking is: How did the standard storybook world become codified, the world with a kingdom, a king and a queen living in a castle riding horses etc? Even in the late Middle Ages in Europe when, I suppose, such places really existed, there were lots of other, different, sorts of places nearby. How and when did the storybook kingdom became canonical? Maybe Jenny can answer this question–it seems to fall within her bailiwick.
P.S. More discussion in the comments to Mark Thoma’s blog here. My favorite comment is the first one: “If Mr Gelman doesn’t like kings and queens in childrens’ stories maybe he should write some stories himself.” You’d think that a commenter to an economics blog would’ve heard about the division of labor! I tell stories to kids, but I write for adults.
More to the point, there are lots and lots of stories without kings and queens, from “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” on down. What struck me, though, was how kingdoms are canonical. For example, Sesame Street is filled with original stories–not folktales or anything like that–and by default they are often set in kingdoms.