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Kids Corner: Rewriting the Story of the Wolf

Welcome back to Kids Corner!

This week we are celebrating National Wolf Awareness Month! That’s right, we are celebrating them, because despite what we have learned about wolves in stories -- you know, they are big and bad, with sharp teeth, and they like to eat grandmas (!?!) -- wolves are pretty amazing!

Amazing Wolf Facts

Wolves have been painted as the “bad guys” in stories like The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Sure, they have sharp teeth and like to howl ominously at the moon. But the truth is, Wolves are so important to our ecosystem.

Let’s take a look at some facts that make wolves superheroes in our book!

1. Wolves keep the ecosystem in balance through hunting.

Without wolves -- which eat animals like deer and elk -- there would be too many of these animals in our forests. Overpopulation of deer and elk can hurt plant life and cause danger when they are near roads or cities.

With too many deer and elk in an ecosystem, these animals have to turn to new sources for food, such as the wood that beavers need to build dams. This hurts the beaver populations. When wolf populations are healthy, so are beaver populations.

Plus, when wolves hunt deer and elk, the leftovers they don’t finish become food for bears and other scavengers. Wolves know how to share!

2. Wolves are great communicators.

Part of the reason we think wolves are scary is because their howls in the night can sound scary. But they are actually communicating so many things over far distances to each other -- from declaring their territory and sharing information about food to calling each other for a social gathering.

Wolf packs can have daily howling sessions that help them to bond and strengthen their friendships within their pacts. Maybe we should try that too!

3. Wolves don’t like to be alone.

We often hear the term “lone wolf,” meaning someone who likes to be alone. But wolves don’t actually like to be alone. They live in packs of up to 30 wolves. The average pack size is between 5 and 8 wolves.

While they can survive alone, they recognize that they are stronger when they live and hunt together. And just like dogs -- animals that are related to wolves -- they have been observed playing with each other.

4. Humans have threatened wolves, not the other way around.

In Little Red Riding Hood, a wolf eats the girl’s grandmother and then dresses as the grandmother in order to eat the little girl. Whoa! What a scary story that paints a picture of the wolf as a ruthless villain.

In fact there are no recorded instances of a wolf killing a person anywhere in North America, and when humans are present, wolves leave the area until the people are gone. Phew!

The situation is quite the opposite: thinking wolves were a threat, humans killed off entire packs of wolves in national parks and forests. Only recently did we realize how unbalanced the ecosystems were becoming as a result, and so we’ve started to reintroduce them.

Rewriting the Wolf as the Good Guy

Now that we’ve learned some of the good qualities of the wolf (they are excellent communicators, playful, social, peaceful, helpful and sharing animals), we think it would be a fun experiment to rewrite the character of the wolf we read about in stories.

Remember the three little pigs, where the “Big, Bad Wolf” huffs and puffs and blows the pigs’ houses down in order to eat them?

And we don’t need to talk about poor Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother again…

Stories like these can wrongly teach us that wolves are evil and a danger to us, when in fact, they help keep our world in balance and pose no threat to humans. When people are scared of an animal, they are more likely to harm and less likely to protect and admire it.

Can you help change the reputation of the wolf by writing your own story, one that shows the wolf in a more truthful light?

Ideas for Your Story

Answer the following questions to help create your wolf character and see how he or she behaves in your story!

Remember, some of the characteristics of a wolf are: excellent communicators, playful, social, peaceful, helpful and sharing

  1. Is your wolf a boy or a girl? What’s its name?

  2. Where is your wolf, and is he or she alone or with its pack? What time of day is it?

  3. What does your wolf want? Think of a problem that your wolf is trying to solve: is it a problem it is solving for itself or to help another animal?

  4. What is keeping your wolf from getting what it wants? Is there another animal or something else standing in its way? Think of three things that can be a challenge to your wolf.

  5. Is there someone on your wolf’s team? Maybe it's the wolf’s pack or another animal that wants to help.

  6. Make your wolf the hero! How does he or she overcome the challenges and solve the problem? What is a lesson that it learned or helped others to learn?

Share Your Story!

We want to hear your story about the good wolf! Send us your story in an email, and we will share it on our blog and social media pages!

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