As long as I’m talking about parenting, two anecdotes:
1) We teach on the MLK holiday, but I had time to take my no-school-that-day daughter out to lunch. We ended up talking about a bunch of things, but at one point she decided that she needed to know about the entire continuity of the character of Green Lantern. I attempted to escape the subject at several points, but she was fairly implacable. Somewhere around “and then it was revealed that Parallax was actually a yellow fear demon and Hal Jordan came back to life”, I was getting some pretty serious wtf glances from other diners.
2) My daughter’s birthday parties each year revolve around a theme that she selects, and I usually end up playing a character relevant to the theme. This year is Greek mythology, so I’ve decided to be Fredalus, Daedalus’ obscure and not very successful cousin.
The interesting thing to me about the interest in mythology is that it wasn’t really sparked by the Percy Jackson books: those followed on rather than preceded her engagement with the myths. She found them the way that I did, by reading the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths well before the film of the first Percy Jackson book came out. What’s especially interesting is that there’s a lot of general interest in Greek mythology among children that we know and her cousins as well, and at least some of the other kids we know took the same path to getting interested in the subject.
This is another one of those cases of cyclical cultural themes where a complex-systems approach is very helpful as an interpretative tool, partly because it helps defer some of the tendency to overread the intentional or instrumental meaning of this kind of recurrence (of the sort that I think WJT Mitchell slides into at times in The Last Dinosaur Book).
There’s certainly an “interested” historical explanation for why classical Greek literature and culture have remained in circulation within a Western society which has self-consciously defined the West as derived from Greco-Roman precedents, but the lightly sanitized (although the D’Aulaires version delightfully keeps some of the edgier elements in view) simplified apparatus of Greek mythology has some of the same root-level attractions as dinosaurs, Pokemon, Harry Potter, superhero comics or Star Wars. The individual stories tie into a comprehensively imagined and interconnected world and effectively teach children how to master two important kinds of systematic knowledge: taxonomy and intertextuality. That mastery then yields social rewards in relationship to other children who’ve also taken an interest in that cultural system. The D’Aulaires’ approach encourages a reader to learn the names of gods, demigods, heroes and kings, and to understand how different types or taxa interrelate within those stories. They also encourage young readers to not only relate the stories as they tell them but to relate their telling of stories to other tellings of the same stories by different authors and from different times.
I think these kinds of mythoi have some of the same “procedural” learning involved that you see in certain digital games and media: they not only teach content but they teach a mode of learning content at the same time, in autodidactical combination.
All of which is a TL;DR way of saying that I’m happy to be Fredalus supervising a “cut the head off the Medusa” version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.