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Providing a Voice for the Voiceless: An Interview with Emilie Buchwald

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Many individuals strive to inform the public about the different aspects of the human-animal bond, but not many use children’s books to accomplish that task. Emilie Buchwald, founder of The Gryphon press, works with her organization to provide children’s books that recognize the importance of educating youth about human-animal bond issues.

The Gryphon Press

Buchwald founded The Gryphon Press in 2006 after initially retiring from a decorated career in publishing. After reading blogs and information from different animal organizations, Buchwald realized that a number of unfortunate cases were being brought to their attention as a result of children mistreating animals. She decided to use her knowledge of children’s books and publishing to create a press that dealt extensively with informing youth about the human-animal bond and welfare of animals.

“My research lead me to thinking that maybe there should be a press that was dedicated only to these issues. Only to issues of how to educate children and how to give them a different perspective than perhaps they were getting,” says Buchwald.

Since its inception, The Gryphon Press has received numerous awards for its books. Their published works have received recognition from distinguished animal welfare organizations including the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. The press has been awarded multiple ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Children’s Books awards and the Humane Society of the United States’ Youth KIND Children’s Honor Books awards.

The Gryphon Press targets youth audiences because they are aware of the need to educate children early about these important social issues. “You have to make it important and moving for them to care about animals at that point in their lives because often, the important ideas that you have about life are formed when you are still quite young,” Buchwald says.

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Books and Subject Matter

The Gryphon Press has published 14 books which provide a variety of topics related to humane education and the human-animal bond. Some of the subjects discussed include pet ownership responsibilities, spaying and neutering, animal welfare, pet adoption and the friendship and empathy created by the human-animal bond. “These issues are real issues that animals face,” says Buchwald.

One of more popular books published by The Gryphon Press, Buddy Unchained, reviews the subject of abuse and neglect as the book follows the life of a rescued dog. The book was used by many educators and even was the subject for a state-wide essay contest conducted in Florida. Another book, Maggie’s Second Chance, is based on a true story of a group of Texas school children who petitioned their town council to open a sanctuary for dogs. The Forgotten Rabbit, the latest book published by the press, illuminates the responsibilities of owning a pet and showcases the fun and benefits that can be had if the human-animal bond is protected.

The Gryphon Press strives to tackle these serious, and at times mature, topics by making them suitable for children. Though it is difficult at times to make these subjects youth-appropriate, Buchwald and The Gryphon Press have succeeded in providing proper and informative resources for classrooms and other learning environments. Buchwald addresses the importance of the role illustrations play in accomplishing this task. The press uses the artwork as a way to better reach the youth audience reading the books while making the overall subject matter something they can grasp more easily. “For young children, the art is the way in emotionally. They need to feel, they need to empathize, and they need to connect with animals. The art is a wonderful way to begin to do that and then the text can then augment that,” Buchwald says.

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Impact and Reception

These books have been noticed by many people but none more so than human educators. The Association of Professional Humane Educators (APHE) and The Gryphon Press have connected many times over their shared interests in educating people about the human-animal bond. APHE often uses the books to assist them in teaching children about humane treatment of animals and the human-animal bond. Buchwald appreciates the use of the books in these shelters and educational programs. “It is really important for us to connect with these people,” she says, “they adore our books and teach from them.”

Every book also includes a page for parents, teachers and other adults that discusses the issue being dealt with in the book and provides additional information and resources. “We have provided teacher’s guides for many of our titles and we have slowly been making each of the books digital so that they can be used by a school or a library. Our idea is the more ways we can reach children, the better,” Buchwald says.

The Gryphon Press doesn’t stop there in making it easier for educators to use their books. The press gives any non-profit group a 50 percent discount on a box of their books so that they can be more easily accessible and utilized in a classroom. “Classrooms are where we like to see our books,” says Buchwald, “We want to see the books going into places where we know that they’ll do a lot of good.”

Buchwald hopes to see more attention paid to humane education in future years. “This is the future, you want to be educating the next generation of people who are going to be involved with animals,” Buchwald says. “There is just not as much effort as there used to be. I see more than ever the importance of being a resource to provide content in this area.” The Gryphon Press is currently working on more books that cover hard-hitting human-animal bond issues for youth audiences such as agricultural animal concerns. Books published by The Gryphon Press can be found in stores nationwide and are available on their website.

For more information about Emilie Buchwald or The Gryphon Press you can contact her at eb6@earthlink.net or visit The Gryphon Press website.

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Humane education
  3. Literature

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