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Nature Is Vanishing from Kids’ Books

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 28, 2012

One of my favorite things when my children were young was reading them Where The Wild Things Are, over and over, with lots of sound effects for the wild ruckus among the animals.  But a new study, looking at Caldecott Prize winners from 1938 to 2008, suggests the natural world is vanishing from children’s books.   The study appears in February’s Sociological Inquiry, and gets a write up in USA Today:

•Early in the study period, built environments were the primary environments in about 35% of images. By the end of the study, they were primary environments about 55% of the time.

•Early in the study, natural environments were the primary environments about 40% of the time; by the end, roughly 25%.

Images of wild animals and domestic animals declined dramatically over time, says lead author Al Williams of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “The natural environment and wild animals have all but disappeared in these books.”

Co-author Chris Podeschi of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania says, “This is just one sample of children’s books, but it suggests there may be a move away from the natural world as the population is increasingly isolated from these settings. This could translate into less concern about the environment.”

Not to mention the terrible loss to parents and young children.

You can read the full study here.

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