Can children learn from stories of animals with human qualities?

Animals with human qualities are very popular now in children’s books and stories. They are especially so in stories animated for children movies.  In fact, they are often the star of the commercial trailers in the promotions of movies coming to theaters or streaming channels.

Obviously, for animals to be used in this way signals that they have commercial appeal. The box office numbers also point to their abilities to sale books, fill the theaters, or increase the viewership when streamed. So, there is no disputing their wide entertainment appeal to both parents and their children. And there is no doubt that their success will ensure that their use will only increase in future presentations.

All the boxes are checked for the story and movie producers to have successful production and distribution. But their success is not necessarily of any benefit to the children beyond the hour or so of reading or movie entertainment they provide. The authors and producers of the content would argue that there is inherent benefit in the stories themselves. Besides they select the stories to publish and promote because they were noteworthy stories in the beginning.

But can the talking animals really communicate with children and leave them with the inherent benefits of the stories?  Children’s books and stories are often designed to teach children some very complex lessons.  Some of these are good versus evil, right versus wrong, failure and perseverance, conflict and conflict resolution, empathy, and compassion etc.  Many of these lessons are difficult to teach by human characters let along by animated animals. Still the animals are put in the positions to deliver these important lessons to children in need of the enrichment.

The animals do have some distinct advantages in stories to relay the lessons they are intended to impart to children. First, they are animals and very different from human beings. Their forms and natural behaviors are one of the first things that children notice and become curious about. Second, they are now casted in roles where they retain many of their natural characteristics, instincts, and sounds. This allows children to imagine and to have some expectations of how the animals will play their assigned roles. Last the animals are now endowed with human qualities like talking, love, greed, and forgiveness etc.  Children seem to find these human qualities fascinating in these illustrated or animated creatures.

Animals with human qualities can raise children’s curiosity, increase the imagination, and hold their attention for extended amounts of time.  They also appear to make children remember the stories more easily after the story’s presentation has ended. The replaying of the stories in children’s memory may extends the time in which the lessons within the stories may be learned.  One of the first conditions to teach anyone anything is that you have their attention, and you can hold it long enough to complete the transfer of the information or concepts.  The lessons may indeed be relayed although the parents may need to help children grasp the more complex concepts. Cory The Caterpillar children’s books.


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