Nicole Rivera is a children’s author and educator. She has published her own books, 4 of them involving Max, a shelter Pit Bull Terrier she met while volunteering at a animal shelter. Many of you may know, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Pit Bull as it is a banned breed here in the UK while over in the US, it isn’t (except in certain areas) so I briefly discuss these issues.
Nicole is committed to inspire children all about the wonders of animal compassion, while raising awareness about respect and responsible ownership to tomorrows pet owners through the power of reading and learning
Q. What inspired you to write children’s books about animals?
A. A shelter dog named Max inspired me to write the children’s book “Max the Shelter Dog” and he continues to inspire me to write books that teach children animal compassion. I adore all animals; the big and small and the nice and the so-called mean. Each of us has our place.
Q. Do you own any animals yourself?
A. Yes, I do have animals. I have small pets; mice and a corn snake. My landlord does not allow dogs or cats.
Q. What are you hoping to achieve through the eyes of the children?
A. My hope is that when children read our books that they will walk away with a sense of empowerment to save lives and literally change the world for each and every animal, and that includes our animals in the wild as well.
if we can nurture that compassion while they are young and throughout adulthood there will be less animal abuse and more admiration and respect for animals.
Q. One of your main characters, Max, is a shelter Pit Bull which is an illegal breed here in the UK under the DDA (Dangerous Dogs Act 1991). What is the general feeling in the States regarding ‘Dangerous Dogs’?
A. Here, in the United States, Pit Bulls are not illegal except in certain areas. We have people on both sides of the fence as I am sure you do in the United Kingdom. There are those who would have all Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers and the like put to sleep just because of their breed and reputations, and there are those who would say that the owner should be put to sleep. That’s meant to make you smile but it is true. Personally, I believe Pit Bull ownership is growing. I see more Pit Bulls in my area than ever before and thankfully they are owned by responsible owners who care for their dogs and the plight of the breed overall.
Q. Do you feel it will get worse?
A. I feel things are getting better as we all do our best to focus on the good. I believe there are more people loving animals than harming them. I believe that the animal activist community is becoming stronger and doing all that they can to educate our children so that we can have more understanding. When I read Max’s story at schools they are appalled that adults are putting animals to sleep and want to help, and so when they ask me how they can help I tell them to adopt from shelters as well as encourage their friends and family to adopt.
When I read Max’s story at schools they are appalled that adults are putting animals to sleep and want to help
Q. Have you got any future projects on the horizon?
A. Our plans for the future are to continue to expand on Max’s series of books incorporating subtle lessons of animal compassion as well as creating in depth workshop materials that educators can use to teach both children and adults animal compassion. Our base of animal characters is also expanding to include other species that may be misunderstood, in particular the snake. I adore snakes and believe they add value just like every living thing.
Here are a few videos of her books and education projects;
Teacher discussing animal compassion with kids at schools after reading Max.
Here is a small preview of her book Max the Shelter Dog presented by American television personality Rachael Ray.