There are fewer animals in children's books than ever.
In the same week that the Guardian reports on a recent UK study showing that boys are closing the gap on girls in reading, a more sobering story has emerged detailing how animals and natural settings are fading from the books they read.
As reported in USA Today, researchers from several universities referenced more than 8,000 images from 296 Caldecott Medal-winning children’s picture books, all released between 1938 and 2008. Categorizing between natural settings, like a forest or jungle, and built environments, such as a school or office, you can likely guess what they discovered.
By 2008, images of natural environments had decreased to just 25 percent, while built environments were the primary setting for 55 percent of the images. Pictures of both wild and domesticated animals reduced drastically over the years as well.
Study co-author Chris Podeschi from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania feels that the result of such a slide could “translate into less concern about the environment.” Child psychologist and author Susan Linn concurs, adding, “the health of the planet depends on a generation of children who love and respect the natural world enough to protect it from abuse and degradation.”