Cows as main characters in children’s books

Even though most young readers don’t really have the opportunity to meet and see cows up close due to living in urban areas, they can at least see them up close in picture books and read about them in funny and educational stories. Cows are popular characters in children’s literature, especially in picture books, novels, and even folk tales. These benevolent creatures spark readers’ imaginations and teach them important life lessons and cultural values. From cows in books, we can sometimes learn how to behave and sometimes how not to behave but in any case, they are gentle teachers. If we had to single out five books with important life messages that children can learn from cows, these might be the books:

1. The Little Red Hen

In the story of “The Little Red Hen” by Paul Galdone, cows are portrayed as lazy and unhelpful animals. The Little Red Hen finds a grain of wheat and asks her animal friends if they would like to help her plant it, but the cows, along with the other animals, refuse to help. They each say “Not I” when she asks them. The Little Red Hen decides to plant the wheat, harvest it, make it into bread, and even bake the bread all by herself. Finally, when she is done, the cows and other animals smell the delicious bread and ask the Little Red Hen if they can have a taste. However, the Little Red Hen denies them a taste, saying “No, I will not let you have any of my bread. You would not help me when I asked you to.” This portrayal of cows highlights the importance of responsibility, collaboration, and hard work.

2. The Not So Crazy Cow

In the story “The Not-So Crazy Cow”, the cow is portrayed as an intelligent, brave, sensitive, and social being who believes that the grass is greener somewhere else. Despite receiving the royal treatment in her homeland of India, she longs to discover the big, wide world. One day, she packs her bags, puts on her best hat, and sails from India to Europe. One wise stork tries to warn her of the upcoming challenges, but the cow follows her adventurous spirit to discover this for herself. Her journey is full of unexpected situations and very soon, the cow starts missing her homeland. This story encourages empathy and a more humane attitude towards this generous and harmless animal.

3. Cows in the Kitchen

In the story “Cows in the Kitchen” by June Crebbin, a group of cows must work together to save their farm from foreclosure. A young reader can learn from these cows the importance of friendship, teamwork, and togetherness. Cows are depicted as creative, resourceful, and hardworking animals. The cows come up with a plan to save the farm. They work together and use their skills to make delicious products to sell at the fair. The cows convey an important message about being innovative and taking risks in order to succeed. Overall, “Cows in the Kitchen” portrays cows as intelligent, social animals capable of thinking creatively and working together to achieve a common goal. This story encourages young readers to be creative and think outside the box when faced with problems and not to give up when faced with challenges.

4. The Cow That Laid an Egg

In the story “The Cow That Laid an Egg” by Andy Cutbill, cows are portrayed as friendly, helpful, and supportive animals. The main character, Daisy the cow, who is known for her kindness, helps the chickens build a new chicken coop. She shows that strength and intelligence can come together, as she uses her strength to move heavy logs and her intelligence to come up with a design for a chicken coop. Daisy the cow creatively overcomes the challenges that come her way, showing how resourceful and persistent she is. She is also generous as she offers to share the lawn with the chickens. The cow in this story teaches a lesson about the importance of teamwork, kindness, and generosity, especially towards those who are weaker and sometimes depend on our help.

5. The Cow That Went OINK

In “The Cow That Went OINK” by Bernard Most, cows are depicted as animals that have individuality and self-expression. The main character, a cow named Henrietta, wants to be different from other cows and wants to express herself in a unique way. She decides she wants to be like a pig and starts oinking instead of mooing. At first, the other cows on the farm mock Henrietta for her behaviour and advise her not to act like she’s someone else. Eventually, the animals accept her as she is.

The cow in this story teaches children an important lesson that they should accept those who are different, not to expect everyone to behave the same way, and to accept that everyone is unique, including themselves. This cow encourages children to be who they are and that they do not have to fit into societal norms.