With summertime on its way, it’s a particularly good time to start looking around for great books we can have around for the kids while school’s out. Just recently, I was delighted to discover the author-illustrator Ruby Roth and her two books for young children (I would recommend for ages 6-10). For adults looking to instill in their own children the values behind a vegan lifestyle, these books are a terrific launching pad for discussion; furthermore, they provide an opportunity for teaching children early on that every individual choice matters and that, even at a young age, a child has a voice of her own that she can lend to the animals. It’s a message of love and compassion and personal empowerment.
Vegan Is Love
The newer of the two books, Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action, begins: “How wonderful that, at this very moment, every person, big and small, has the power to create a better world!” This power comes from making everyday choices, ranging from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to products we use. For example, this page on Animal Testing not only illuminates the use of testing in everyday products like shampoo, but it also shows kids the logos they can look for that ensure they’re choosing cruelty-free:
Roth also covers the choice not to support the use of animals in entertainment — whether it’s at the zoo, circus, or racing. Keeping the emphasis on making positive choices and being sensitive to the young audience, Roth writes that, by making better choices, “our love reaches to the ends of the earth.”
That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals
Like Vegan is Love, Roth’s first book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals features vivid illustrations that are bound to capture the imaginations of children as it encourages them to make connections between living animals who think and feel emotions (and pain) and food on the plate. The focus of That’s Why is more specifically on factory farming and its consequences. In this book, Roth’s approach is to first illustrate the beautiful natural behaviors of animals such as pigs and ducks; second, she explains how factory farming makes those behaviors impossible and inflicts upon animals lives of suffering and isolation. I like that Roth respects her young readers enough to tell them the truth but does it in a way that is age appropriate, with language and images they will be able to understand. Any child can understand the concept of “family” and will have a reaction to the notion that animals have families, too.
What Else Can We Do?
Both books end with a page entitled “What Else Can We Do?” Here are a few suggestions from Vegan is Love (feel free to discuss with the kids in your life):
- Connect with Animals: Never buy animals from pt stores or breeders. Rescue, visit a wildlife sanctuary, or volunteer at a local animal shelter instead.
- Home: Make your yard a sanctuary. Hang a birdfeeder or plant flowers for the bees.
- Environment: To protect animals and their habitats from pollution, replace plastic with cloth bags and glass containers.
- Shopping: Ask your favorite grocery and clothing stores to carry more vegan products.
- Fun: Enjoy art, music, and theater shows starring people, not animals.
*Looking for more books (and movies) for kids as you get ready for summer vacation? See my previous post on Vegbooks — a great online source.