I do not think I know a single person who growing up did not live for Saturday morning cartoons. This got me thinking about why it seems that children are drawn more to animation than live action. Is it because it sparks their imagination? Is it because they can relate more to the characters? Or could it be that they are just drawn to the music and effects? I think it is a mix of all three of these ideas and that children just love the world that animation presents.
Cartoons are first able to capture a child’s attention through the colors, movement, and the soundtracks of the shows. I personally couldn’t give you a single plot line to any cartoon I watched as a kid, but I could still sing you all of the theme songs. As a kid, you aren’t really paying attention to the dialogue of a show, but you are watching what is going on and just listening for those subtle music clues that give more insight.
What animation can do that live action cannot really do well is create characters that are about the same age, or can truly relate, to who is watching. A live action show cannot have five main characters, who can act for themselves, all under the age of 3 like the cartoon Rugrats can. Because of this, children are able to really see and learn about how the world works directly through their perspective.
Cartoons are also able to present funny scenarios and different plot lines that can spark a child’s imagination in many different ways. Just the simple drawings of kid’s animation can encourage a child to draw and place the characters of their favorite cartoon into new scenarios. The simplest thing can set a child’s imagination into play, and cartoons are a definite influence in that.
ps- going back to what I said about still knowing my favorite cartoon theme songs, this is my personal favorite (and I’m sure many of yours as well!)