Why Do Children Love Animals?

Why Do Children Love Animals?

THERE IS SOMETHING about fuzzy, warm, wet-nosed animals that appeals to children.

Erin McNew is the Education Coordinator for the Jewish Family Services of Cincinnati, which is a co-sponsor of the PJ Library program in Cincinnati. She says the bonds children develop with animals are critical as they learn to love, share, and empathize.

"From a very young age children find animals fascinating and often develop special relationships with them," McNew says.

Many of a baby's earliest words will represent animals. "Cat," "dog," and "duck" are especially common.

According to Linda Acredolo, Ph.D., founder of the Baby Signs Program, more than a third of babies' first words are animal names. She explains it in her blogpost, "Why Kids Love Animals."

"As young babies begin looking around their world, they are automatically attracted to things that move, are brightly colored, and are easy to see," Acredolo writes. "They are fascinated by things that make interesting noises, are capable of interacting with them and are unpredictable in what they do and how they behave."

It makes sense, therefore, that aside from other people, animals are the next most interesting "thing" for young children. "Babies find animals about as far from boring as things can be without being human," Acredolo quips.

For very young children, sign language is a fun way to learn new words for animals. Watch the video below to learn a few of the more common American Sign Language words for animals:




Songs about animals are also beloved by children. "Old McDonald" is a famous one, but there are many others.

PJ Library musicians Rick Recht and Sheldon Low sometimes sings about animals. In fact here are three from their joint album, Look at Me! -- a Challah Toast (3 to 4 Years) age group selection:

  • "The Itsy Bitsy Achaveesh (Spider)"

  • "Bucky Goldstein Had a Farm"

  • "Tomer the Turtle"


A number of PJ Libary books put animals at the hearts of their story. See our "Kindness to Animals / Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim" page for a more complete list of animal-related sections. To start you off, however, we list four good ones:

Naamah and the Ark at Night Naamah and the Ark at Night
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Illustrator: Holly Meade
Fox Walked Alone Fox Walked Alone
Author: Barbara Reid

Illustrator: Barbara Reid
The Shabbat Puppy The Shabbat Puppy
Author: Leslie Kimmelman
Illustrator: Jaime Zollars
The Wisdom Bird The Wisdom Bird
Author: Sheldon Oberman
Illustrator: Neil Waldman
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