Thursday, June 23, 2005

Rant on cartoons

Why is almost everything designed for use by babies and toddlers adorned with crudely-drawn cartoons? What makes people think these are appreciated by or beneficial for very small children?

Imagine you are living in the forest where things have no names, and someone comes to you and points to a small, fuzzy white thing and says, "Dog." Sometime later they point to a big, rough, white thing and say, "Dog," and then apply the same word to a medium-sized brown thing. Then they point to a smear of blue ink on paper that bears no resemblance to any of them and call that a dog. It doesn't seem like it would help one in figuring out what kind of a category this was.

I notice that D1 gets much more enthusiastic about books with photos or realistic drawings than she does about books with cartoons. And who doesn't think that a one-year-old would rather look at a card with a photo of an animal or a flower or construction equipment, than with a fuzzy pastel symbol of one? (Notwithstanding the cheesy pastel butterflies, however, D1 was quite thrilled at having her own card and read over it for as long as she played with her new blocks.)

It really bothers me when it comes to Bible stories. Almost all the Bible story books meant for the youngest children have cartoon illustrations. Surely if we want to impress children who are still learning the difference between reality and fantasy that these stories are about something real, the illustrations should look real. But they hardly ever do. And they should also be true to the actual story, which is why I hate pretty much all "Bible" cartoon videos ever made. I spent a lot of time teaching 4s and 5s explaining that whatever they may have seen on their TV, the Bible indicated that thus-and-so happened. A lot of the books are no better. We did find one that looks pretty good, though . . . My First Bible in Pictures by Kenneth Taylor, which has realistic drawings and one-page stories.

This is not to say I think cartoons are intrinsically evil; I just think they make more sense to and are better enjoyed by children who are a little older and who can understand what's going on.

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