Little excuse is needed, perhaps, for any fresh selection from the famous "Tales of a Thousand and One Nights," provided it be representative enough, and worthy enough, to enlist a new army of youthful readers. Of the two hundred and sixty-four bewildering, unparalleled stories, the true lover can hardly spare one, yet there must always be favourites, even among these. We have chosen some of the most delightful, in our opinion; some, too, that chanced to appeal particularly to the genius of the artist. If, enticed by our choice and the beauty of the pictures, we manage to attract a few thousand more true lovers to the fountain-book, we shall have served our humble turn. The only real danger lies in neglecting it, in rearing a child who does not know it and has never fallen under its spell.
You remember Maimoune, in the story of Prince Camaralzaman, and what she said to Danhasch, the genie who had just arrived from the farthest limits of China? "Be sure thou tellest me nothing but what is true or I shall clip thy wings!" This is what the modern child sometimes says to the genies of literature, and his own wings are too often clipped in consequence.
"The Empire of the Fairies is no more.
Reason has banished them from ev’ry shore;
Steam has outstripped their dragons and their cars,
Gas has eclipsed their glow-worms and their stars."
Édouard Laboulaye says in his introduction to Nouveaux Contes Bleus: "Mothers who love your children, do not set them too soon to the study of history; let them dream while they are young. Do not close the soul to the first breath of poetry. Nothing affrights me so much as the reasonable, practical child who believes in nothing that he cannot touch. These sages of ten years are, at twenty, dullards, or what is still worse, egoists."
Kate Douglas Wiggin.