Two things as of late have changed my mind about my prejudice against animals acting like people.
The first is that animals have no race. It's hard to find good story time books that read well and are interesting with a diverse racial and ethnic make-up of characters. And it's important for kids to be able to identifywith the characters that they're reading about; if you're a small black child and all you see in books are white kids then you begin to internalize that and think that you're not worth writing books about. Or if the only black children you see are characters in picture books about slavery or going to jail on visiting day, that doesn't lead to awesome things either. Animals don't look like any child I know, black, white, red, yellow, purple, or blue so the kids can begin to look past physical appearance and identify with traits that the animals possesses.
The second reason I'm coming around on the whole anthropomorphism issue is even more simple: People made out of felt are the creepiest things ever.
Which is how I ended up with this teddy bear version of "Mary Wore Her Red Dress."
The song in simple; it goes like this:
Mary wore her red dress, red dress, red dress
Mary wore her red dress all day long.
The second bear is her friend Henry.
When we do this song I first explain to the kids that EVERYONE has to get dressed in the morning and that teddy bears are no exception. I show them the individual clothing items and we talk about what each one is and what color it is.
Clockwise: purple boots, green tie,
yellow bow, blue shirt, red dress
and orange pants