Do Kids Really Believe Curious George Can Fly a Kite?

Say it ain't so!  Max and Ruby!  Curious George.  The three little pigs.

The very reason we love them so is now the same one scientists say actually harms our kids. Giving animals human characteristics can lead to "less factual learning" but also influences "children’s reasoning about animals."

Does this mean they'll grow up to pull the wings off birds?  No, of course not.  But researchers also say that young readers are more likely to "attribute human behaviors and emotions to animals when exposed to books with anthropomorphized animals than books depicting animals realistically," according to newswise.com.

“Books that portray animals realistically lead to more learning and more accurate biological understanding,” the Web site quotes lead author Patricia Ganea, assistant professor with the University of Toronto’s Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development. “We were surprised to find that even the older children in our study were sensitive to the anthropocentric portrayals of animals in the books and attributed more human characteristics to animals after being exposed to fantastical books than after being exposed to realistic books.”

So where's the harm?  .

Researchers say we should be more careful about the type of books we choose to teach children about the real world. They advise parents and teachers to consider using a variety of informational and nonfiction books, and to use factual language when describing the biological world to young children.

Does anyone really think a child is going to grow up believing a person can climb a beanstalk to the sky, or a monkey in a yellow hat is going to drive a car?  I think not.  But maybe we do need to remind them not to get mad when the giraffe at the zoo doesn't talk back to them.


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