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A Portrait of Biodiversity in Children’s Trade Books

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Department of Biology & CESAM, University of AveiroCIIMAR, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of PortoPortugaleunice.sousa@ua.pte.cibio.div@gmail.com
  • | 2 Department of Biology & CESAM, University of AveiroPortugal
  • | 3 CIIMAR, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of PortoPortugal
  • | 4 Department of Biology & CESAM, University of AveiroPortugal
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Indirect experiences are important in the public perception of nature and may influence attitudes towards conservation. Biodiversity and the environment are frequently presented in children’s books and promote children’s attitudes and emotions about biodiversity. We examined how biodiversity was portrayed in 164 books directed at six- to eight-year-old children. Living beings and habitats were found in 98% and 80% of the books, respectively, and included 441 different organisms in a total of 21,786 occurrences. The living beings in the books weren’t representative of the global biodiversity and were dominated by few iconic nonhuman organisms, mostly mammals, especially companion animals or other domesticated animals. The representations were strongly biased towards anthropomorphization of nonhuman animals who inhabited limited common habitats. This may contribute to the idea that all biodiversity lives in forests and humanized habitats, and is limited to nonhuman animals under human mastery or to few inaccessible megafauna.

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