Rotorua's SPCA says the organisation's storybooks for children are a valuable resource to help develop a sense of empathy and consideration towards animals and their needs.

This month the SPCA releases the next stage in its nationwide education programme for New Zealand primary schools - a second collection of six storybooks for children.

The series will help educate young readers about the care and wellbeing of animals, aiming for a change in attitude and behaviour from the next generation of animal owners.

The first storybook collection was released in August 2016 and to date around 78,000 books have been used by more than 2000 primary schools.

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The first storybook focused on companion animals and the second is on farm animals.

SPCA Rotorua education manager Geoff Rudsdale and centre manager Sue Kinsella say schools they already work with directly appreciate the resource and are visibly applying it in their classrooms.

"Some schools in our community are unaware these resources are available, so we are hoping to get the information out so every school knows about the programme and can utilise this resource with positive effect."

They say the SPCA programme consists of four interlinked components that spread the animal welfare message to our community.

In addition to this story book collection, there is a valuable online resource of animal welfare lesson plans designed by teachers for teachers and covering a range of New Zealand curriculum achievement objectives.

They say the resources are aligned to national standards which allows schools to integrate the entire series seamlessly into their reader collections and their classroom literacy programs.

"We are looking forward to seeing more animal welfare messages presented to our community's children, and hopefully the early exposure to animal needs will help avoid further animal welfare issues in the future.

"Not only does this develop their reading skills, it helps develop a sense of empathy and consideration towards animals and their needs, encouraging children to treat all animals respectfully and with care."

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen says they continue to care for about 46,000 animals that have been lost, abandoned, injured, or abused each year.

"This is simply not good enough and we need to do better as a country. Teaching animal care and empathy at a young age is vital to turning this around.

"These storybooks build on the overwhelming success of our education programme which is available to all primary and intermediate schools in the country."

Children and their families can access resources to support the books at the SPCA Kids' Portal: www.kids.spcaeducation.org.nz.

Teachers can register for free, curriculum-aligned resources at the SPCA Teachers' Portal:
www.teachers.spcaeducation.org.nz.

The new books include:
- Garry the Goat's Escape
- Barney and the Sheep with No Name
- Guzzler Does the Job
- Toni, the Party Pony
- Mrs Wigglesworth Gets the Milk
- Wake Up, Drongo!