Human Characters vs. Animal Characters: Which One Impacts Readers Best?

Whether you’re a parent looking for fun, engaging picture books for your children, or an author seeking new ideas for your next bestseller, you will come across two different types of books that everyone is pretty much familiar with: books with human characters and books with animal characters. Yet, which one has the better impact on readers? 

The answer is both. The difference is that they have distinct qualities that evoke varying emotions and engagement. It’s safe to say that everyone is familiar with and have fallen in love with stories featuring animals. They’ve flooded bookstores, classrooms, and libraries for years.  And books featuring humans have caught the eye of parents, teachers, and publishers for decades, as many of them are considered classic stories and readers’ favorites.

But a study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto concluded that children are able to better grasp the messages learned from realistic stories, as “storybooks with human characters can better promote children’s prosocial behaviors.” But it also stated that with animal characters, “…children enjoy immersing themselves in hypothetical worlds early in development (Harris, 2000)”, placing a world of fantasy and fun, whimsical hypothetical scenarios center stage of the readers’ literary journey.

The list below gives a quick overview of the qualities that books with animal characters and human characters offer, and how they affect readers.

Which type of book is better suited for your children? Do your readers respond better to books with animal characters? Are books with human characters that experience the same life issues as your readers at the top of your reading list?

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