Animal protagonists in children’s fiction have made some of the best characters we remember. Be it the beautiful dark horse Black Beauty, Charlotte the Spider, Stuart Little, or Peter Rabbit, animal protagonists are undoubtedly charming. Children love to read about them and can’t get enough of this popular trope.
Such is the impact of these unconventional critter heroes that a major part of children’s books remains in the shadow without their mention. Writers like A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter are famous for adapting these cute critters as the frontrunners in fiction. However, animal protagonists do not simply serve as comic relief. But they also are formidable moral allegories with their own vices- as far as Aesop’s fables are concerned. Sometimes, animals also made for good sidekicks who were more loved than the human protagonists.
An innovative analogy to represent human-like qualities, we believe that animal protagonists are sure to charm young readers. Additionally, their inclusion helps in developing empathy and love for every life form.Therefore, as Podium exhorts young minds to discover new lessons from the unconventional, Here are 5 books where animals lead the show!
The Best of Animal Protagonists in Children’s Fiction
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Black Beauty, a fictional “autobiography” of the talking horse, by Anna Sewell, continues to remain a favorite children’s book to this day.
Written in a simple and empathetic way, the story is narrated through the eyes of the eponymous Black Beauty who comes across many masters, friends, and enemies. Black Beauty tells his own story, from his early childhood in a pleasant meadow, through a myriad of owners- some kind and some cruel – until fate takes him back to the meadow in which he was born.
Sewell conveys powerful lessons about compassion and courage through Beauty’s experiences. As a result, she also gives us one of the most loved animal protagonists in children’s fiction. A timeless tale filled with memorable characters and eloquent descriptions, Black Beauty is a treasure in itself.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B White
The beloved classic written by E.B White revolves around the remarkable friendship between a piglet named Wilbur and Charlotte, his friend, philosopher and guide.
An all-time favorite of young readers, this book gives out major best friends forever vibes. Charlotte and her brilliant tactics to save Wilbur’s life are as heartwarming as they are admirable. Through this poignant story, White grants the world of literature, two darling animal protagonists in children’s fiction. Above all, Charlotte’s Web teaches young minds to maintain selfless and loving relationships with family and friends.
A compilation of gracious American humor, elegant poetry, and strong lessons on life, this book completely surrenders itself to adorable animals who run the tale smoothly. Therefore, Charlotte’s Web is an emotionally riveting tale you cannot resist. A film adaptation of the book was released in 2006. Catch its trailer here!
Watership Down by Richard Adams
One of the comparatively darker reads in this list, Watership Down, by Richard Adams is a worldwide best-seller. Its reputation for being extremely violent and politically oriented often preceded its brilliance.
The book features a small group of rabbits, with their own history, language, culture, and heroes. Led by Hazel and his prophetic brother Fiver, the rabbits struggle for survival, escaping the destruction of their warrens, and seek a place to establish their new home.
An obscure but brilliant classic, Watership Down brings a semblance of the political and the environmental to children’s literature. Unusual and unique, Adams successfully gives us the most heroic of all animal protagonists in children’s fiction.
Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel
This bestseller book written by Kenneth Oppel brings the world of animal fantasy alive. Often compared to Watership Down due to similarities in the tone it adopts, Silverwing delves into the nocturnal territory.
An animal fantasy where bats are the main characters, Silverwing features a loveable bat as the protagonist. Shade- the bullied runt of the litter, is determined to prove himself and is on a quest to find his father. Shade is on a journey, to find out the truth about the layers of a legend and mystery surrounding an ancient prophecy.
Wonderfully written by Oppel, Silverwing captures the essence of every emotion from the perspective of multiple characters. Thus, a mixture of adventure and thrill, this novel keeps the readers engaged throughout.
Stuart Little by E.B White
E. B White’s first children’s book, Stuart Little, was published in 1945. Better known because of the film franchise made much later, White’s Stuart is born to the Little Family. Our endearing protagonist navigates the challenges of life- from growing up to coping up with a big world. But one is surprised by this two-inch mouse who has the wisdom of a crone.
One day, a lovely canary called Margalo lands upon the Little’s doorstep. And from their Stuart forms a heartwarming friendship with her. However, Snowbell, the house cat is not happy with the pesky intruders and plans to have Margalo eaten up. The canary flees and Stuart follows to bring her back. But will his adventures end there? Will Stuart be able to find Margalo?
A beloved fantasy, filled with warmth, humor, and adventure, Stuart Little takes the reader on a journey of love, friendship, and compassion.
Although, animal protagonists seem not to be a serious point of consideration in literature, the bulk of children’s fiction is supported by them. From delivering the lessons of compassion and gumption to being a little mischievous and ambitious, these animal protagonists offer to us a zest for life. Therefore, young readers will definitely adore these critters as their new unconventional heroes!
Speaking of animal protagonists, you should also check out the best books by A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter– both of whom are significant contributors in this field. Podium School also encourages you to enroll in our creative writing course, where you will learn how to create such protagonists and more. Don’t forget to check out our other updates on Children’s Books and Films on the Podium Blog.
See you soon!