October 19th, 2023
Thanks to Kind News™, RedRover Readers, and YOU!
Back-to-school is always an exciting time for us at RedRover. We start up our Kind News* mailings again, sending thousands of bundles to school and home mailboxes and digital issues to even more computers. And this year, we launched a new, self-paced RedRover Readers course online to train more teachers, librarians, parents, and animal caretakers to bring children into the life of an animal, and inspire critical thinking using some of the best humane-themed books. We want to take a moment to update you on the impact of these programs.
Last spring, we led a survey in partnership with Emmanuel College of 134 third- and fourth-grade teachers from Texas, California, and Illinois who engaged with two Kind News issues. More than 90% reported high engagement of students with content, particularly in English/Language Arts activities. Seventy-seven percent reported attitude changes, providing details pointing to an increased understanding of the emotional capacities of animals and helping abilities; reports of helpful actions resulting from engagement included school-based care of small wildlife, kindness to peers, and helping to care for stray animals near school.
We received many comments that made us incredibly happy, about how our little magazine with a big heart inspired more caring attitudes and behaviors as a result of their Kind News engagement. Here is just a sampling:
One teacher, Dana Bravo of Cicero, Illinois, told us:
“This magazine is literally perfect for my classroom. I love it so much. I love hearing the kids’ excitement when they learn new things about animals. They are fascinated. We had a very in-depth conversation about how horses can feel someone’s emotions/anxiety. We were trying to wrap our heads around the fact that they can feel a person’s feelings. The kids were so intrigued.”
Lana Willis of California, told us:
“My students now look around to help injured creatures like grasshoppers etc. Before reading the article they were trying to pull the legs off of them.”
Chris Sharp of Washington, Illinois, said:
“I teach 6th grade at a Title I school. My students have a hard time focusing and making good decisions. They seem to be a little more caring as we read through these articles!”
We also surveyed Kind News magazine subscribers from the 2022-23 school year. We found:
Storytelling is a wonderful way to inspire animal-loving kids and provide a new narrative to those who’ve witnessed neglect or abuse. And great stories abound, like the ones in the book Buddy Unchained, about a dog who went from neglected to pampered pet. RedRover Readers harnesses the power of the best humane picture books to do just that.
For RedRover Readers, in addition to the 2009 pilot study (when RedRover Readers was previously known as the Humane Education Ambassador Readers (HEAR) program), we continue to hear feedback through our in-person trainings (RedRover.org/readers) in leading discussions with children around quality humane-themed literature. Our facilitators cover the steps of empathy, questions that inspire critical thinking and discussion around animal-related social and emotional issues, and implementation of discussion guides.
In New Hampshire at trainings at Monadnock Humane Society, attendees practice humane picture book skills through readings to fellow attendees. One participant told us, “Kids NEED this,” and we saw everyone leave with curriculum guides, subscriptions to Kind News, and a new enthusiasm for approaching their teachings.
We hope this evidence pointing to the impact of our humane education programs helps fuel the good work that you are doing! We’re grateful for all of you who spread kindness this back-to-school season, from leading a whole-class lesson, to telling stories about the animals you love wherever you are. We’ve always believed that these teachings make a difference. And each year, we have more and more evidence that shows this, as more research is conducted and more educators tell us how Kind News is working.
We want to hear from you, too! Please tell us how it’s going if you haven’t been in touch in a while! You can also request a copy of our slideshow with more detail on the Emmanuel College teacher survey.
*New to Kind News? Our Sept/Oct 2020 Humane Hero, Ethan Branscum explains it here: