Anthropomorphic animals - human beings in disguise?
The role and function of humanized animals in picture books

Felicitas Kröger, Saturday 15.00-15.30

Nowadays, a large proportion of contemporary picture books for children involves animal topics or has animals as main protagonists. Many of these animals are presented in an anthropomorphic, human form.

Animals have held an important place in literature for thousands of years. Many cultures have had folktales and myths in which animals represent human characteristics, Aesop used anthropomorphic animals in his fables in order to illustrate human interactions and stories in the Old and New Testament provide vivid images of animals that stand for various human attributes.
In the mid-eighteenth century animal stories migrated down the hierachy of literary genres from adults to children as children were believed to be closer to nature and animals than adults.

Personified animals are realistic or cartoonish, paintings, two or three dimensional line-drawings or photographs. They can offer different degrees of anthropomorphism, involving human appearance and dress, behaviour, traits, speech, thoughts, gestures or facial expressions.
Picture books with anthropomorphic animals can serve a variety of purposes. They can be a tool of socialization and promote moral values, teach lessons about human relationships, con-vey habits and behaviours, allowing issues to be raised in a child friendly manner. Moreover, animal stories could engage with some big issues while looking at them from a different per-spective. Children could identify and empathize with humanized animals they find in the stories and these animals could guide a child through a crises or personal problem in a way that ordinary human characters can not. However, animal stories can also contribute to a child’s imagination or can be purely entertaining.

Animals in picture books belong to the most association-rich classes of symbols and are a valuable aid to promoting reading, visual literacy, cultural and intercultural understanding in EFL-classes. Therefore, the aim of this presentation will be to further examine the role and function of animal representations in picture books by looking at various popular historical and contemporary examples.

Biodata will follow shortly.