Developing empathy and encouraging humane treatment towards all animals is behind the SPCA's launch of a series of storybooks for primary school children.
The six story books aim to help educate young readers about the care and well-being of animals, aiming for a change in attitude and behaviour from the next generation of animal owners.
The first storybook collection was released in August 2016 and, to-date, around 78,000 books have been used by more than 2000 primary schools. The first storybook series focused on companion animals and the second on farm animals.
SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says the books further extend the charity's New Zealand curriculum-aligned education programme, which first launched in 2016.
"We continue to care for around 46,000 animals that have been lost, abandoned, injured, or abused each year,” she says.
“This is simply not good enough and we need to do better as a country. Teaching animal care and empathy at a young age is vital to turning this around.
“These storybooks build on the overwhelming success of our education programme which is available to all primary and intermediate schools in the country."
The focus of each original story is to teach animal care and well-being through engaging and thought-provoking narratives, while supporting the development of children's reading skills and strategies at school and home.
“We chose to focus on farm animals because, after their pets, New Zealand children are most likely to interact with farm animals. However, the goal of the series is to develop empathy towards all animals from the next generation.”
Each school will receive 36 new books, made up of six sets each, which are funded by donations and community grants. Teaching notes are available to teachers through the SPCA Teachers' Portal. Suggested activities help to extend and consolidate children's understanding of animal care concepts and increase their empathy for the animal characters within the stories.
The new books include Garry the Goat's Escape, Barney and the Sheep with No Name, Guzzler Does the Job, Toni, the Party Pony, Mrs Wigglesworth Gets the Milk and Wake Up, Drongo!
Children and their families can access resources to support the books at via SPCA Kids' Portal at: www.kids.spcaeducation.org.nz
Teachers can register for free, curriculum-aligned resources via the SPCA Teachers' Portal at: www.teachers.spcaeducation.org.nz