Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Picture Book Friday: Earth Day!!

Happy Earth day!!! Hopefully, the weather where you live is beautiful today so you can get outside and enjoy the wonders of the world around us.

It's so important for us to teach our children that we need to practice good habits EVERY DAY not just EARTH DAY. And today, I've got something for every age group!

First up, Todd Parr has a book in his familiar bright and vibrant style called The Earth Book. This is perfect for introducing earth-friendly ideas and habits to your youngest children (preschool and up). It features very simple and smart ideas such as recycling and coloring on BOTH sides of a paper (this is one that we could definitely do more often in our household!). Planting trees, turning off lights and saving energy also show up on the list. The book even comes with a poster your kids can hang up to remind them of ten things they can do to save the earth EVERY DAY!

One of the best things about Parr's book...it is printed entirely on recycled materials and with non-toxic soy inks!! Very cool!

Next, I have something for chapter book readers. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading style of E is for Environment by Ian James Corlett. It has fun, engaging illustrations and is written in a way which kids will love. In the book, the two children discover ways they can help and teach their parents to save energy, water, and be environmentally conscious. Each chapter tackles a specific topic and is written up like a problem. The children have to come up with a way to fix it. There is a nice overview and review at the end of each chapter. For example, the father complains the water bill is too high so the son comes up with ways they can cut water use and save money, such as turning off the faucet when brushing, taking shorter showers and less often baths, and watering the lawn less.

Each chapter is short, only a few pages long. Not a hard read at all. And what fun! Give this book to your children and let THEM teach YOU what to do around the house to be more earth-friendly. In the summer, I spend time with my girls (ages 5 & 7) reading and teaching them a bit each morning. I plan to read one chapter at the start of each week and then see how we do practicing each habit. We already practice many of the ideas in the book in our household, but it will be fun for the girls to know that we do these things and I'm sure there are areas in which we can do better.

Next Up: Mark Kurlansky's World Without Fish. This is a powerful book for older readers. The book jacket says "for ages 9 and up" but I feel like the ideas are bit heady for a 9 year old and some of the vocabulary he uses would be a bit hard at that age as well. I would say about 11 or 12 and up for this book.

This quote from the book offers the most concise description of what his entire book about:
One of humankind's most enduring misconceptions is that of nature's bounty. That's the belief that nature is such a powerful force that it is indestructible. (page 53)
Using Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, Kurlansky formulates a very powerful argument for a call to action where our oceans are concerned. He discusses the many ways fish are being endangered: overfishing, fishing regulation/guidelines, oil drilling/spills, and global warming. While the writing itself is just a tad on the dry side, it's very informative and has great sidebars, illustrations, and bold text throughout. He also includes a 12-page graphic novel to further illustrate the points he makes. I think the graphic novel is a great tool to help younger kids see the possible effects of overfishing on ocean life. His biggest argument is that overfishing will cause the oceans to be altered forever. By removing large amounts of fish, faster than they can reproduce, a species may become endangered or even extinct. This would set off a chain reaction where the larger fish that fed on the endangered species wouldn't be able to find food. And the fish that were once food for the endangered species would become overabundant because there would be no one to eat them.

Overall, this book is incredibly interesting and I learned a lot! It's great for older kids, and I was not bored at all as an adult reading this. Definitely a great conversation piece for anyone's library! And a perfect read for Earth Day!!

Source disclosure: I read The Earth Book while at story time at the book store. I received an e-galley of E is for the Environment from Simon & Schuster's galley grab. World Without Fish was sent to me by Workman Publishing after I requested it from Shelf Awareness.