Even as an adult I've enjoyed picking up children's books at time, I love the element of fantasy and wonder about the world that you don't get in adult books. However, I've noticed something rather disturbing in many of my favorite books that I hope to read with my daughter some day: the parental role is very, very minimal (or non-existent) in many books! Apparently, I'm not crazy either, this has actually been documented: http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4884/.
I can understand in part why this happens. It's exciting to read about kids going off on these crazy adventures and you always need to add a bit of danger into it too. Sure, you get parental figures in other roles but many times the parents are dead, or taken hostage or just flat out negligent. Even in picture books for kids that are really young you'll often see solo kid adventures (think the Cat in the Hat of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) or with just one parent (The Gruffalo's Child, Llama Llama). In older books I can think of a number of them that have weak/absentee parental roles:
The Lightning Thief
The City of Amber
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Secret Garden
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Wizard of Oz
A Wrinkle in Time
The Dark Materials Trilogy
I'm sure there are more but my brain's short-circuiting at the moment. There's obviously nothing wrong with showing non-traditional families (I myself come from a patchwork family) so I get that purpose but I've also realized I can only think of two books that DD has that show both a mom and dad in them in prominent roles (Fancy Nancy and It's the Best Day Ever, Dad!) and those are two of her favorites. In the other books she'll sometimes get really freaked out when the parent(s) are missing (she's always had a lot of separation anxiety so she finds these situations stressful) and I can explain to her that other types of families exist until I'm blue in the face but she'll still ask and get very upset about it. I've eventually resorted to telling her that the mom/dad is at work.
I'm sure once she gets older and gets more exposure to other types of families that will work itself out but it does concern me that there are so few good books even for the older crowd with a strong parental presence (I can think of Laura Ingalls Wilder off the time of my head and that's it). So I'm wondering what other parents think about this (regardless of your family composition)? Do your kids ever wonder why the parents in the books aren't more attentive or why they are always absent? Do you think this has any affect on kids at all?