The Arabian Nights” indicts imaginative works for children; Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet was founded by Francis C. Woodworth, whose periodical reflected an emphasis on sober and “improving” literature—sometimes at the expense of interesting stories. Woodworth himself probably wrote several diatribes against fiction in The Mother’s Magazine in the 1840s.
“The Arabian Nights” (from Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet, September 1850, p. 290)

Arabs telling stories

I must confess that the stories in the “Arabian Nights” amused me very much when I was a boy. But I must confess, at the same time, that I think such reading did me more hurt than good. The tales are, all of them, too strange and marvelous. And that is not the worst of it, neither. Some of them—like the one which is illustrated in this picture, for instance—have not a very good moral influence. They tend to make the heart worse, instead of better. A thousand times, since I have grown older, I have wished that I had not read these tales in my childhood; and I hope that all my little friends will find something to read a great deal better than the “Arabian Nights,” and books of that sort. I should be glad to hear that none of the boys and girls of my acquaintance had read the stories in the “Arabian Nights.”

We ought to be very thankful that, now-a-days, there are plenty of good, interesting books for young people, besides those tales which have not a word of truth in them, and have no good moral about them, from beginning to end. When I was a boy, it was very different in this respect from what it is now. Good books, which children could understand, were very scarce. I do not think that people knew as well how to write for children as they do now. At this day, there are scores and hundreds of books, which you can buy at the book-stores, or borrow at the Sabbath school, any one of which will instruct you and do you good, at the same time that it entertains and delights you. There is no excuse now for reading fairy tales, and stories about Bluebeard, and giants, and eastern monarchs, with palaces full of gold, and fifty wives apiece.

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