Animals in Literature
A copy of Reynard the Fox. The one I use is, Vaes, Alain, illus. Reynard the Fox. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc., 1994. Three part card material displayed for the class to see, and review.
1. Ask kids to answer in their notebooks. “Why are animals so important in the history of literature?”
2. List answers on board; have students write in notebook. (Some answers may include: (Animals represent human traits easily (pig is messy; wolf is evil); Exciting, fun, adds variety to characters, increase interest
3. “Which animals are the likeliest characters in fiction?” Discuss this question and lead children to understand that animals humans have domesticated, and their immediate predators, are the likeliest. (Goats, pigs, cows, dogs, chickens, cats, horses may tend to serve as ‘protagonists’ while wild animals may tend to serve as antagonists—wolf, coyote, fox…)
4. Go through list of forms shown on the three-part card material (13 traditional; five genre) and investigate, “In which form of literature are animals very important?” Children may cite the following…
a. Animal Tale
b. Nursery Rhyme
c. Folk Tale
d. Cumulative Tale
f. Creation Story
g. Trickster Tale
i. Pourquoi Tale
5. Why do animals seem to be a more prominent element in traditional literature than in genre fiction? Discuss.
Suggestions for Student Work: Make a list of all animals that are commonly domesticated (Goats, pigs, cows, dogs, chickens, cats, horses may tend to serve as ‘protagonists’ while wild animals may tend to serve as antagonists—wolf, coyote, fox…).
Give some traits of each animal. For example, “pigs are messy and play in the mud. Horses are graceful and tall. Goats butt heads with each other. For each of these animals, the students can then provide “character traits” that go with the characteristics of the animals. Pigs are sloppy. George the pig had a very messy room. Sam the goat was always getting into arguments with his brother. Harry the horse was the wise elder of the community. Other horses often sought his advice, etc. Include drawings.
Control Of Error
Have students write a paragraph showing what they learned.
Points Of Interest
Animals are key elements in most children's literature.
Direct Aim: To understand why animals appear so frequently in literary forms.
Indirect Aim: To prepare students for the next lesson, which is to look at the specific definition for animal tales, and the study the first published animal tale, Reynard the Fox.
Take a list of domesticated and wild animals (Goats, pigs, cows, dogs, chickens, cats, horses may tend to serve as ‘protagonists’ while wild animals may tend to serve as antagonists—wolf, coyote, fox…) and give examples of books in which they are characters. This might involve a trip to the library, especially to the picture book section.