Two types of vegan children’s books: factual books and storytelling books
Vegan parents are faced with the task of choosing the best vegan picture books for their children. What are the criteria by which we buy particular vegan children’s books? The selection criteria for a vegan children’s book should not be different from the selection criteria for any other children’s book, that is books that do not contain violence, the language of adults, encourage consumerism, but have certain literary value.
All of this seems logical except for the criteria of violence. How it is possible to talk about violence against animals without showing violence in words or in pictures?
Perhaps the main purpose of vegan children’s books is to spread the message that animals are sentient beings, to encourage empathy toward animals, and to take some action to help them.
Having that in mind, you can choose between two types of vegan children’s books: factual-books and fictional storytelling books.
Books with bare facts
Factual vegan books are books that contain mostly facts about human involvement with animals. From them, children can find out how people use animals and kill them in order to make food, shoes, and clothes. These factual books contain only bare facts, nothing more. There is no creative literary value in these books and their main role is to share the hard truth to children about the origins of meat, dairy, and eggs.
These simply-written stories preach and give moral lessons about the relationship of humans to animals in a direct way. The authors educate kids that chickens don’t need to be nuggets and cows don’t need to be burgers.
They might be useful in their attempt to call things by their real name, but, these kinds of books do not really occupy children’s imagination and rarely encourage children to want to read them over and over again. These factual books might be good for kids that are transitioning to veganism or when parents become vegans and they want to explain to their child why they are no longer eating meat. The main point of these factual books is to explain to kids that animals are not food, but friends. However, what if these kids have been vegan since birth and already know that?
Children who are already vegans or vegetarians sometimes react negatively because they already know these facts and would like to read something more fun. Some of them wonder why their parents read these horrible facts about animals to them if they already don’t eat meat. They are right because there are vegan books available that are written in an entertaining way with elements of humor, while at the same time conveying the message that animals are sentient beings whose lives are equally as valuable.
Books with engaging stories!
Unlike vegan children’s books that contain bare facts, there are vegan children’s books that have certain literary value and are written in a metaphorical way that activates a child’s imagination and the parts of the brain that serve for associative thinking. Vegan books shouldn’t all be preachy and simply presenting facts on animals; they can be written ingeniously like other popular children’s books.
Children respond particularly well to stories written from an animal’s perspective. In the story “The Donkey Doctor” the main character is a boy who understands the language of animals.
These stories from an animal’s perspective help children understand how animals have their own language and we can only imagine what they would tell us if they could speak a human language. This text is not dismissing all-vegan children’s books that are based solely on presenting facts. Although such books lack literary imagination, they also play an important role in children who still don’t know the truth about the origins of meat.
If you are looking for a book you want to give to a family that is non-vegan, a better choice is a book demonstrating that animals are sentient beings and does so through an engaging story and a handy metaphor. One such story, ‘The Not-So Crazy Cow‘ is about the experience of a cow that traveled all the way from India to Europe. It is a story full of adventure through which the vegan message flows subtly and with humor.
Yes, it is possible to have vegan children’s books which are also educative, engaging, and fun at the same time. It is possible to give vegan children’s books to your non-vegan friends without being intrusive. It is possible to write about violence in a non-graphic way. It is possible to have a vegan book that will be interesting to children who have been vegan all their lives without them saying, “Come on! We already know that!”