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WHEN VIEWING ON A MOBILE DEVICE -- DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM Why Are Children So Interested In Animals, Anyway?  multiple, novel sensory qualities of animals that children enjoy have been shown to positively affect children’s learning. The love and interest children feel toward animals often fuels children’s curiosity and desire to learn. The Same, but Different Part of the appeal of animals is that they are so different from us yet also so much like us. They are alive and share our physical needs for food, water, and sleep. They have reactions similar to ours. They may become startled at loud noises and excited at the arrival of a friendly caregiver. They seem to express common human emotions. Animals behave differently depending on the situation, just as we do—​they may be shy, tentative, scared, excited, peppy, or tired out. They have distinct personalities, likes and dislikes, even mood swings. In some ways animals are much like children: they are completely dependent on adults for their care and emotional well-​being and need to be approached with a different level of sensitivity than that with which one approaches adults. Animals are also different from humans. We may never understand some animal emotions, communication, and behaviors. Animals offer children a glimpse of their own sometimes mysterious world when they share experi- ences with children, respond to their overtures, and even enter their world of play. Gene Myers, a developmental psychologist who studies the relationship between children and animals, explores children’s view of animals’ same and different qualities in his book The Significance of Children and Animals. He states that children see animals as “nonhuman others”; that is, they intuitively recognize that animals are other living creatures based on four key characteristics: agency, affectivity, coherence, and continuity. These four characteristics are universal. All children intuitively recognize them, and each characteristic has a role to play in children’s understanding of animals as sentient beings, or “social others.” They are essentially the factors that separate a dog from a bookshelf, a toy train, or any other inanimate object that is in a child’s life. First, unlike any toy, animals move and behave of their own accord. They have agency and autonomy. Animals do things that are unpredictable and sometimes seem random. They initiate their own behavior. This character- istic offers a child constant novelty. Even a familiar animal, the family dog, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 11