Nurturing Children's Compassion for Animals

February 01, 2020

Quote of the Week

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." -- Abraham Lincoln

Nurturing Children's Love For Animals

"There is definitely something special about children’s interest in animals. Research shows that humans’ innate interest in animals is biological: we are drawn to species that are “other” than human and in many cases have an instinct to want to care for or nurture creatures that are small and vulnerable. Unlike adults who tend to value animals for what they can provide (food, leather, wool), or how they can serve us (as companions), children tend to value animals simply because they are. They recognize the intrinsic value of animals—that simply because they are living creatures, they are important.

Bringing a child to a wild place, a wooded park or even just a schoolyard, where there are opportunities to encourage wildlife sightings or other kinds of connections, can help children develop that innate love for animals. An added benefit? A growing body of research shows that children who are supported in their love for animals tend to generalize that love to other living things, such as plants and nature. Research also shows that when children are encouraged to care for animals, they tend to be more sensitive and caring toward other people as well. So by supporting children’s love for animals, you’re helping nurture those all-important feelings of connection and stewardship as well.

Supporting children in their growing awareness and interest in animals can lead to deeper feelings of empathy in young children, more positive classroom relationships, and social-emotional development. As children have experiences with animals, they learn about differences and similarities, needs (such as for food, shelter, water and space), and compassion and empathy can grow and deepen." [Read Article]

Reading Corner

Title: Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln
By: Shari Swanson
Ages: 4-8

Hot off the press, we are so excited to share this debut book written by one of our long-time Kindful Kids volunteer editors, Shari Swanson! Shari is a lawyer, school teacher, writer and advocate for social justice with a life-long passion for children's literature.

"Based on a little-known tale from Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, this charming picture book written by debut author Shari Swanson and illustrated by acclaimed artist Chuck Groenink tells a classic story of a boy, his dog, and a daring rescue. Deeply researched and charmingly told, this is the true story of one extra-special childhood rescue—a dog named Honey.

Long before Abraham Lincoln led the nation or signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he was just a barefoot kid running around Knob Creek, Kentucky, setting animals free from traps and snatching frogs out of the jaws of snakes. One day, young Abe found a stray dog with a broken leg and named him Honey. He had no idea that the scruffy pup would find his way into Abe’s heart, become his best friend, and—one fateful day—save his life." -- Publisher

Be the Change

"Each of these lessons – celebrating differences, understanding emotions, recognizing needs – is a fundamental part of raising a compassionate, empowered kid. Each of these lessons can be taught more quickly, more instinctively through creature care. [...] While not every family is destined for pet ownership, every family can harness the power of creature-love to inspire compassion and encourage a bond with the animal kingdom. We've gathered our favorite resources to get you started: 6 Animal-Loving Lessons for Big-Hearted Families."