It's all about the things "bad bunnies" do like bite, hit, etc. For one thing, he's not doing those things, so why give him ideas? For another, I can't stand the thought of him getting the message that he's bad if he does do something typical toddler thing like pushing.
Well because sister's "bad habit" was nail biting I immediately became curious about biting my nails
My mom actually just told me she wouldn't read me the book any more if I bit them (which I apparently liked) so I stopped. It didn't help with the first habit though
Also, I think this thread is absolutely fascinating, but I don't think I was super clear about my feelings in my first post.
I was mostly reacting to things I found in children's books that personally offended me and went against my and my husband's morals, but not that I would absolutely keep from a child. There are certain books (like some of the Beatrix Potter, Curious George, Classic Fairly tales) that I wouldn't want to read to my one year old niece right now, because we wouldn't be able to discuss the context at this point, however; I think they are important literary works and that it's good to be familiar with them.
Last year when my niece was born, I bought her "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny", and when I saw the bunny-beating I took the book back. Mainly because she was just a baby, but also because of a family situation where my MIL is constantly trying to get my SIL and BIL to use the pearls method on her. I don't think at that time, and in this case it would have been appropriate, but that certainly doesn't mean no child should read or be exposed to it.
I actually was so curious about some of the other books mentioned here, that I read a couple at the bookstore yesterday. I didn't remember Peter Rabbit at all, but after I read it (the only Beatrix Potter book I was exposed to as a child) I didn't find anything so "shocking" that I would keep it from my niece.
I'm sure that, considering "Beatrix" is the "girl name" my husband and I have picked out for a future child that we may very well be given a great deal of these books someday and I'm not opposed to that at all.
It's funny too, because my mom recently told me that she used to "edit" certain books as she went along when she read to me. I know that she would "censor" the Boxcar Children so they would be less sexist. She also talked to me about certain things that went against the values she was trying to teach me (like whining, hitting, stereotypical gender roles, etc.) as we read. So while I may have grown up with a lot of these books, a lot of times they were "mom-censored" or used as conversation starters. When I read to my niece and children I work with I do the same. Mainly because they are either at an age where I don't think it's appropriate to bring up a certain issue (like spanking) or as someone who is not their parent I don't feel it's my place, or because (like in m nieces case) of their particular situation I would feel it would be insensitive or counter-productive. I guess I just take it book by book and kid by kid.