Understanding Children’s Animal Stories

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This study examines the content and structure of 59 children’s realistic animal stories for ideological expressions of anthropocentrism. It concludes that the texts send ambivalent and contradictory messages: while children’s stories may serve to inform the reader about actual and potential connections to other animals, they also contain elements that continue to privilege the dominant view.


“The complex and contradictory relationship between people and animals is thoroughly explored. . . Johnson adeptly blends elements of cultural studies, structuralism, poststructuralism, and feminist studies in order to ‘dissect’ the popular children’s genre of ‘fictional animal realism’. One of the many strengths of this significant contribution to the literature is the way that Johnson consistently combines both textual analysis and content analysis in order to support her thesis. Her textual analysis humanizes and visualizes the way these engaging stories create respect and compassion for animals while, at the same time, justifying human domination over animals. Her content analysis – complementing her textual analysis – documents the patters of action and interaction in these texts, adding an important sociological dimension to her literary analysis.” - Mark D. Rubinfeld

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface by Clinton R. Sanders
1. The Challenge
2. A Caste System for Animals
3. The Politics of Pets
4. Childhood, Liminality, and Maturation
5. Techniques of Neutralization
6. The Nature-Gender Nexus
Appendices: Ethics; Secondary Sources for the Sample; List of Sampled Stories; Data Collection Tables
Bibliography; Index

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