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Animal books affecting your kids' factual learning

Posted on Mar 26 2014 | IANS

Toronto, March 26 : Does you kid love reading story books featuring animals with human characteristics? This may lead to less factual learning and influence his/her reasoning about animals.

Young readers are more likely to attribute human behaviours and emotions to animals when exposed to books with personified animals than books depicting animals realistically, researchers say.

"Books that portray animals realistically lead to more learning and more accurate biological understanding," said lead author Patricia Ganea, an assistant professor with University of Toronto's department of applied psychology and human development.

Even the older children in our study were sensitive to the anthropocentric (personified) 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, Ganea explained.

This study has implications for the type of books adults use to teach children about the real world.

The researchers advise parents and teachers to consider using a variety of informational and non-fiction books and to use factual language when describing the biological world to young children.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

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