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Dear Zoo, is it time to update it?

I love Dear Zoo and it is a classic that has been around since 1982. I had to make a story basket for it as children love it too. Here is the story basket I created and I am selling an e-pattern to make your own and teachers are loving it.


There has been some recent criticism of this interactive book with flaps and I wanted to take a closer look at them and ask does Dear Zoo need to be updated?

In 2019 there was a call to ban Dear Zoo as it is sexist. Have you ever noticed that all the animals are males? ‘he was too fierce’, ‘he was too tall’ etc. As a teacher I usually change it around and say she but one day Mr. 4 who could read pointed out that there were no ‘she’ animals in the book. And it did make me pause and wonder if the book needed updating. Books do influence how gender is seen or not seen and what is interesting is that even in 2000 females are often invisible or not children’s picture books. There have been some shifts but there certainly more to be done to have gender equality.

In 2015 there was a call to close zoo’s as they are artificial enclosures that confine animals and they are a fraction of the size of their natural habitats. Zoos argue that they are needed to teach and or inspire and they have worked hard to improve conditions for animals. There is also the argument that zoos in 2013 Costa Rica announced a plan to close all zoos but this did not spur other countries to do the same and look at other alternative to conservation and avoiding extinction of species.

And finally,… what is the monkey? Yes, he is naughty. And is it advisable in the teaching world to use the word naughty. I certainly do not use the word around children and yet the books does. Is the monkey still naughty when you read it? Do you think about the word or it is just part of the story?