And What Does the Cow Say?

My parents were in town last weekend, babysitting my nephew. One of those evenings, after my mother had read about a dozen children’s books to put him to bed, she pointed out something I’d never previously considered. While most of the near-universal children’s book themes – numbers and letters, say – are the building blocks of future learning, there’s another classic that makes much less sense: animal noises.

Indeed, while there are literally thousands of books on Amazon that cover the topic, unless you’re one of the less than half a percent of Americans who will one day work farming animals, I’m totally unclear on the purpose that knowledge serves later in life. What, exactly, are children meant to take away from it? As Samuel Taylor Coleridge once observed, “all the brute animals have the vowel sounds; only man can utter consonants.”

May 19, 2017