SPCA Education Manager Nicole on our new story books
SPCA’s free education programme seeks to improve animal welfare by nurturing the hearts and minds of the younger generation. We asked the programmes’s manager, Nicole, some questions about how our new series of storybooks for kids (provided free to every primary school in the country) feed into that vision.
What makes this fourth series unique?
The awesome new topics! Our fourth series is all about responsible animal guardianship. The stories explore different actions people can take to ensure the safety and well-being of animals in their home and wider community.
The stories have been crafted to encourage children to think deeply about their relationships with animals and how their choices and actions matter and can have a really significant impact on the lives of animals. We want children to think of themselves as animal guardians and to view all animals as valued members of our communities that need their care and protection.
What excites you most about SPCA’s storybooks?
It’s really hard to pick just one thing! However, a really important consideration is that no matter how awesome it is, a resource like this is worthless if it doesn’t end up in the hands, hearts and minds of those who it was created for. That’s what I really love about our storybooks – it is their reach, which is really down to our supporters. It is through grant and donor funding that we have been able to print and distribute sets of our readers to every primary school in New Zealand, which eliminates barriers to children accessing these valuable learning resources. It means all children, teachers, parents and whānau can access and enjoy the same quality animal welfare education. Not only that, but animals – regardless of their postcode – will also benefit from a generation of guardians who have the knowledge, understanding and compassion to ensure they have the lives they deserve.
What is your hope for what the books can achieve?
We hope our fourth series will further develop children’s knowledge of animal sentience and what animals need to live happy and healthy lives. We hope they help children understand how responsible animal guardians can ensure the physical, behavioural, social, and psychological needs of animals in their care are met. We also hope that having children read stories about characters that they can identify with, and relate to, can inspire and empower them to take action and make a positive difference to the lives of animals not just in their own homes, but of those living alongside them in their community, now and in the future.
How do the books fit into the wider goal of SPCA’s education programme?
Our overall goal is to advance animal welfare and inspire a kinder generation through education. Research makes it clear that parental or family involvement in children’s learning is correlated with improved student outcomes. So, our readers support us in working toward this goal as they help us to bring school, home and SPCA together. Our readers are also a wonderful tool to share important animal care and welfare information within families to eliminate any confusion around animal needs and welfare, in a positive and non-judgmental way
A note on how our SPCA story books fit into the wider education space:
Like our previous series, these readers are levelled in alignment with the Ministry of Education’s colour wheel, meaning schools can continue to integrate this resource seamlessly into their existing reader collections and their classroom literacy programmes. We have also developed free supporting teaching notes and learning activities for every book. Our teaching notes suggest ways teachers can use the texts in their classroom to support the learning needs of their students, while our suggested post-reading activities help to extend and consolidate children’s understanding of the animal care concepts introduced in each story! Teachers can access the associated notes on our Teachers’ Portal