Animals in Literature

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Hey, Little Ant


This parable about mercy and empathy asks readers to look at life from an insect’s point of view. A boy contemplates squishing an ant who pleads with the boy to spare him. A great conversation starter about how we and animals (even insects) are alike and different, and how peer pressure can lead to bullying. Can be performed as a song (sheet music is appended).




Why use this book?

  • Highlights that all animals have the same basic needs, no matter how different they may seem.
  • Build empathy for an animal that most people think nothing of.
  • Encourages decisions making and taking responsibility for our actions.

Things to note:

  • While the ant is anthropomorphized in this story, it is done in a way that students are getting appropriate information on realistic relationships and treatments towards animals; helping them recognize self in others.

Ask your students:

  • Do you think ants actually sleep in beds made of leaves and read ant comics?
  • What are similarities between people and ants? What are differences?
  • How do ants meet their basic needs? How does this differ from humans?


  • The Hey Little Ant website contains resources to use in your classroom, including the accompanying Hey Little Ant song.


Phillip and Hannah Hoose, 1999


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