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ERIC Number: EJ1116151
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1040-9289
Using Animals to Teach Children Biology: Exploring the Use of Biological Explanations in Children's Anthropomorphic Storybooks
Geerdts, Megan; Van De Walle, Gretchen; LoBue, Vanessa
Early Education and Development, v27 n8 p1237-1249 2016
Research Findings: Anthropomorphism--the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman entities--has long been a staple of children's media. However, children's experiences with anthropomorphic media may interfere with biological reasoning instead encouraging an anthropocentric view of the natural world. To date, little research has addressed the typical content of children's storybooks about animals: Do these storybooks present factual information that may support early developing biological reasoning, or do they instead focus on human-centered, psychological information that may encourage anthropocentrism? We analyzed the types of causal explanatory information that commercial storybooks about animals provide to children about 2 biological concepts that have been extensively studied in the experimental literature: biological inheritance and the transmission of illness. Using coding schemes similar to those used in prior experimental literature to assess preschool-age children's biological reasoning, we found that none of the anthropomorphized books presented children with scientifically accurate causal mechanisms. These books focused almost exclusively on social-emotional experiences as opposed to biological explanations, which may inadvertently encourage anthropocentric reasoning. Practice or Policy: Understanding more about the content of informal sources of early learning can help inform educators on how to best support developing knowledge about the natural world and biological properties.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A