No more animals in storybooks? Kids learn moral lessons more effectively from stories with humans

From experience to meaning...

To you remember Watership Down? I bet – if you are as old as me – you are now humming that tune. A new study by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto found that four to six-year-olds shared more after listening to books with human characters than books with anthropomorphic (human-like) animals. It is a randomized controlled trial with 3 groups of in total 96 participating children.

Overall, the researchers found:

  • Children ages 4 to 6 read either a book about sharing with human characters, a book about sharing with anthropomorphic animal
    characters, or a control book about seeds.
  • Reading the human story significantly increased preschoolers’ altruistic giving but reading the anthropomorphic story or the
    control story decreased it.
  • Children in the anthropomorphic condition who were mor

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