Does an animal have "rights," as humans define them? A British animal welfare activism book by an author concerned about factory farming practices, published in 1964, identified five freedoms: freedom from thirst and hunger; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury, and disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress. No matter political or religious beliefs, sound practices enforced by government policies were designed to guard against abuse, neglect and mass production with little regard for an animal's basic rights. Today, in many countries, people agree about such basic freedoms. Individuals and groups work together to achieve them by various methods, which are dependent upon culture, educational awareness, political conditions, and established laws. Change may or may not come easily. Activism influences change in a number of ways and improves conditions in most cases of injustice. The question of whether an animal has "rights" or not remains at the heart of fundamental debates about the best treatment for animals in scientific studies, during food production and even as dear pets. What is preferred? How can students participate? Can youngsters make a difference? The "Get Involved!" series addresses these questions with practical advice (i.e., "Get Active!"), first person accounts (i.e., "Field Notes"), and with interesting mini-biographies (i.e., "In the trenches"). Through bold photographs and bright fonts, these books introduce children to hard issues that we face around the globe. Other books in the series are Environmental Activist, Human Rights Activist and Social Justice Activist. Some topics may be too sensitivefor young audiences. Contents include establishing definitions such as "What is an activist?" and "Welfare or rights?" There is a glossary, an index and a list of several web sites. Chapters include: "History of animal use," "Birth of animal rights," "Vegetarianism," "Animal testing," "Factory farming," "Fighting cruelty," and "What you can do." Thus, it is recommended that adults supervise readers, with appropriate consideration of prior knowledge and students' experiences. Additionally, vocabulary studies, multiple subjects, hands-on projects and community involvement are some of the instructional benefits of the series. Reviewer: Susan Treadway, M.Ed.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—These books offer readers an important opportunity to become acquainted with a variety of social causes and to learn how to make a difference. In each volume, the first chapter spread defines the concept of being an activist, with reference to a specific cause. Animal Rights Activist discusses the differences between animal welfare and animal rights activists, related history, and such topics as vegetarianism, cruelty, and factory farming. Environmental Activist follows a similar format and, as in the other books, includes a chapter on noted members of the field, such as Al Gore, and student activists. In Human Rights Activist, the rights to life, freedom, and equality without regard to race, gender, religion, ability, age, or political opinion are discussed. There is no mention of discrimination with regard to sexual orientation. The central issue in Social Justice Activist is the concept of a society in which everyone is equal and receives fair treatment. Gender, race, poverty, homelessness, peace, and environmental issues are specific subjects considered. Each volume includes a short list of suggested Web sites that is introduced by a warning that they should be pre-screened by an adult—an unrealistic expectation and probably unnecessary with sites such as the World Wildlife Fund or the Sierra Club. Students researching animal rights may come across PETA's site anyway. These valuable works introduce new concepts and possible plans of action to students, but their presentation is for a younger audience than is realistic for the ideas discussed.—Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY