Animal stories appear in a variety of forms, styles and genres. However, most include one or more animals
as the focus of the story. Some may involve pets of human children. The child may be the hero (like Old Yeller) but the pet is the crucial player in the drama.
Why do animal stories appeal to children? My opinion is that most kids yearn for a pet companion to love and so they look for books and stories of other pets and pet owners. Pets allow children to feel clever, protective, nurturing and loved.
Animal stories really resonate with early readers for a few main reasons:
- They avoid two major sources of childhood stress, conflicts with other children and parental disapproval.
- Very young children do not see animals as separate or other than human. They believe that animals maintain human characteristics and powers that humans have.
- Storybook animals are usually uncritical of one another and work together to find solutions to common problems.
- They use words and situations that are brought to their basic vocabulary. Kids can understand and adapt what the message is in the book.
- Animals are very loving, loyal and trusting. These animal heroes help kids compensate for their essentially powerless place in the universe.
Getting Boys To Read
Mike McQueen in his ground breaking book “Getting Boys To Read-Quick Tips For Parents and Teachers” talks about the power of allowing boys to read to their pet. Or he even suggests making a puppet that they can read aloud to. The puppet and pet never criticize his slowness or inability to pronounce words.
Many schools have started READ programs where a therapy dog comes to the library or classroom so the children can take turns reading aloud. The programs are very successful in increasing reading scores but bonding to the animal.
Librarians and teachers find that elementary school students tend to choose a book about a pet similar to the one that is listening to them read. Their reasoning is that the dog will enjoy a book about another dog.
High School Readers or Non-readers
What Mike McQueen found on older non-readers is that they can be persuaded to read if the book is for a purpose. How to books give the kid a reason to read and reinforces the idea that reading will help you accomplish something.
He goes on to say:” How-to reading materials often connect us with things that we like to do with our hands. Man men read fix-it manuals and books or magazines that teach us how to build things.”
Many a boy who hates English in school and puts off doing social studies, will pick up a dog-training obedience book, or one that talks about teaching dogs tricks.
Help Your Child Love To Read
Success breeds success and when your little one is drawn to animal books, read to and with him or her. Your goal is to help them form a love of learning and become a reader. When they can read to a loving pet or a loving parent, they will develop a relationship with books and learning that will put them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
Tell us your favorite pet stories
At the Animal/Human Connection we are looking for stories of pets and pet people. We know that we have deep bonding and connection with the animals that share our lives. Please check out some of the stories and join our community of kind, thoughtful people who want respect for all at www.ILovePetStories.com and if you would like to share an especially deep story of a pet you or someone you know has lost, please contact us at www.deathofmypet.com You will be glad you did.
Judy Helm Wright is a “Pet Grief Coach” and assists pet parents like you to write and publish tribute books about the life lessons learned from your pet. She can be contacted through either of the websites mentioned above. She is a member of Women In The Pet Industry Network and Association of Personal Historians.