World Book search: 'dog' comes before 'dinosaur' for kids

December 17, 1993|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Staff Writer

Eat your hearts out, Mr. and Ms. T-Rex. When young students refer to a World Book encyclopedia, they go to the "Dog."

An on-going research project conducted by World Book Encyclopedia shows that canines hold an abiding fascination for children. For 10 years, the subject "dog" has inspired more encyclopedic look-ups than "snake," "President of the United States," "cat", "fish" or "dinosaur" -- in that order, thank you.

This is vital information for the folks at World Book, who depend on reader feedback to make annual revisions to the encyclopedia.

In 400 classrooms across the United States and Canada -- including three schools in Baltimore -- students in elementary through high school are asked to keep track of what they want to know when they crack a World Book.

Participating schools receive two new World Book sets annually. Each time they refer to the encyclopedia, students fill out a card indicating the kind of information sought, whether and where it was available.

This past year, the World Book classroom research project generated more than 100,000 response cards.

Though he has no data to support World Book's top-dog findings, Lawrence Lorimer, editorial director of Grolier, Inc., another encyclopedia publisher, says, "It sounds right to me."

"It doesn't sound right to me," says Selma Levi, who heads the children's section of the central Enoch Pratt Free Library. "I would have thought dinosaur. That's quite odd."

Dale Jacobs, World Book managing editor, is hard put to explain why pooches are such hot topics among kids. Maybe it's because "Dogs are so cuddly," the former high school English teacher suggests by phone from World Book's Chicago headquarters.

Perhaps the answer can be gleaned from the opening sentence of the World Book article in question, which begins: "Dog is an animal that has lived with people as a pet for more than 10,000 years, longer than any other animal."

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