Thursday, April 23, 2015

Animals in children's literature

          In section we had briefly discussed the prevalence of animals as characters in children's books and what purpose they serve. Obviously children understand that animals cannot speak, yet having animals talk in a story is quite popular. In many fables such as the tortoise and the hare, animals are used to convey a particular moral or underlying truth. One reason why many authors use animals to relate to children is because children and animals are actually very much alike. They're both often curious, naive, and fascinated by the external world. However, it's also interesting to consider that animals can be anthropomorphized in powerful, personal, or painful stories, thus putting the reader at an emotional distance from the message the writer is conveying, since it is only an animal going through the experience.
          I found this article intriguing because the author describes how animals are used as devices in literature to act out and create scenarios that humans experience, thus making the message more identifiable to the reader. One quote from the text, and what I believe to be the author's thesis is: "The intellectual and emotional distance that the animals' role-playing allows children and their mentoring adults grants space in which to become reflective and critical concerning life problems and life choices." I agree with this idea because without simplifying issues of complex cultural significance, children would not be able to gain a firm grasp on many social and moral truths.



  1. It's an interesting contrast between this weeks reading of Descarte, your comment, and the anthropomorphization of animals in this class in our past stories. Descartes argues that they are more machines than logical thinkers, but the stories in this class apply human logic and more to them, as you say frequently to teach children morals or a lesson.
    -Winn Miller

  2. I think that animals are used in children's books because they posses traits that are unique to that particular animal. Tiger = Fierce, Owl = Smart, Gazelle = Fast, etc... Those correlations give personality to the character without having to spend time developing them.