Anthropomorphism in Children’s Literature


With the success of films like Finding Nemo, Zootopia, The Secret Lives of Pets, it’s obvious that children respond positively to stories that involve animals in human settings and roles. Several well-known children’s stories (Aesop’s Fables, Charlotte’s Web, Alice in Wonderland, etc), use this device to provide a narrative that teaches important lessons and leaves room for children to ask questions.

Anthropomorphism, as it is formally termed, is a literary device used to assign human traits to an animal or object.

Stories involving characters that are animals create a neutral emotional space in which to problem solve and have conversations. Talking animals can address everyday needs and concerns as they try out our human roles for us. Their trials and errors, rewards and punishments, actions and reactions present ways in which to communicate well, ways to come to conclusions, and ways to develop relationship.
Here are some of the titles we have had that have animals as title characters and the lessons they have learned:

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison: Jane is an ordinary dog surrounded by some extraordinary circus animals but she just can’t seem to fit in. Follow her journey as she finds out how extraordinary she really is!

Shark vs Train by Chris Barton

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton: What in the world do a Shark and a Train have in common? Follow this hilarious caper of a Shark and a Train battling it out before lunchtime! 

Sparky by Jenny Ofill

Sparky! by Jenny Offill: When you think of a Sloth, you don’t immediately think of it being a good pet - But, the little girl in this award-winning story soon discovers how to appreciate things about her pet sloth Sparky, that no one else does!

Kiss Goodnight by Amy Hest

Kiss Goodnight by Amy Hest: This warm and cozy bedtime story features Mrs. Bear and her little Sam as she tucks him in and he communicates what he really wants before falling asleep!

Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato: Little Elliot is an adorable, tiny elephant who leads a quiet life in a big, bustling city, until he becomes friends with a little mouse.

Art and Max by David Wiesner

Art and Max by David Wiesner: Art and Max are two artistic lizards that reside in the plain desert. Read along as they add color to their world as they create original paintings in this imaginative book by the award-winning David Wiesner.

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