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50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals: Fun and Easy Ways to Be a Kind Kid Paperback – November 1, 2006
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About the Author
Jane Ratcliffe (Ann Arbor, MI) is a novelist and freelance writer. She has her MFA from Columbia University and currently teaches creative writing.
Top Customer Reviews
As a linguist, I especially enjoyed Chapter 36, "Critter Chatter," which begins:
"Words we say, hear, and read have a powerful effect on us and how we see others. Sometimes people develop bad feelings about animals simply from the words they use."
After September 11, I spent entire days writing to politicians I saw on television who said things like: "We're gonna find the animals who did this," as if animals would ever plot and execute something like coordinated attacks using commercial jets. And you know something? After a couple of months, the language our politicians used changed dramatically.
Newkirk raises a rare topic that, for me, is at the heart of our problems with animals: We refer to them as things. "The dog was hungry, so I fed it." When we're comfortable using language that defines animals as objects, it's much easier to accept treating them as objects. Newkirk suggests not only using the language of individuals (him and her), but asking other people to adopt it, too.
I urge every parent and child to read 50 AWESOME WAYS KIDS CAN HELP ANIMALS. It's like one-stop shopping for raising a compassionate child, and being a compassionate adult.
The book is very easy to read, broken up with short chapters, lots of bulleted facts, quizzes, and boxes. The best thing about the book is that it takes kids' passion for animals and channels it into constructive ways they can help. For example, volunteering at the animal shelter, which is one of the book's suggestions, is a great way for kids to help animals and also helps educate them about important issues like spaying and neutering and being a responsible animal guardian.
The book covers a lot of ground and will probably inspire some animated dinner table conversations, but I think it's a great way to make kids feel like they are active members of society who can make a difference.
The fifty ways to help animals in this book range from providing clean dishes for furry friends to ways to legally protesting unfair animal practices. Politely refusing gifts made of parts from endangered animals, keeping a journal of interactions with the family dog, vegetarian/vegan recipes (unless you're allergic to soy, as I happen to be), and website links are other useful features in this book.
Other information in this book is debatable, depending on what side of the fence you fall on. Animals that many people consider pests, Newkirk encourages keeping safe. The classic example is the debate over hunting deer and chasing Canada geese from public golf courses. It would have been helpful to see her response to the argument supporting the use of hunting due to a lack of natural predators (also due to human influence).
Overall, for kids and parents who are fans of PETA and choose vegetarian/vegan lifestyles, this is a good book. For animal lovers who happen to eat meat and feel PETA goes too far, this still is not a bad book, although they will find many of the suggestions over the top, even intrusive--such as animal lovers slipping animal rights flyers in restaurant menus and into the pockets of fur coats at retailers.
As with any cause, it is important for parents to have an understanding of what their children's passions may be. It is just as important for parents to help kids keep a fair and healthy perspective regarding their beliefs.
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was hoping for some real, practical, interesting ideas but not only was this book poorly written but the ideas were simplistic and unimaginative. Read morePublished on February 1, 2014 by Nancy A. Graham
Lots of ideas. A helpful tool for brainstorming. Written for thoughtful kids to come up with their own helpful ideas.Published on November 29, 2013 by FAE MCC EASTON
This is a nice book for children or young teens. It gives good ideas on helping children be more aware of protecting animals, in a format that kids can easily digest. Read morePublished on March 14, 2011 by John Scott
In my opinion this book mixes facts with PETA's extremist views. It seems to me like they are trying to create little animal activists. Read morePublished on October 21, 2009 by K. Higginbotham
In addition to giving animal advocacy a scientific boost in the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin promoted the notion that compassion for all creatures could be taught - instilled... Read morePublished on August 21, 2007 by Mark Hawthorne
I loved this book. I bought it with my 7 year old daughter in mind. She's been trying to go veg for a while and this was written in a format that she can understand.Published on August 8, 2007 by Jennifer Noseworthy
I bought this book for a young friend who loves animals, and even though I'm almost 34, I enjoyed reading it too! Read morePublished on November 10, 2006 by Heather Moore