But the question has been raking up headlines all week anyway, thanks to a University of Toronto (my alma mater ! so proud !) study proving that they do.
Or at least, kind of proving they do.
As it turns out, what they’ve done says very little about children’s books – in particular, not much we have to pay attention to as writers or as parents.
But along the way we can have a bit of a laugh looking at the samples of the stories they used, and looking at examples of talking animals who help our kids learn… so keep right on reading!
The Claim: Talking Animals Hinder Learning
These results indicate that anthropomorphized animals in books may not only lead to less learning but also influence children’s conceptual knowledge of animals. (read the full study here)
This kind of sensationalistic stuff adapts really well to headlines!