by Nancy Castaldo
It’s been many years since I was Nature Nancy, camp counselor, during my summers, but I still wear that hat when I write my books and those are still the faces I see reading them. I can remember the kids piling out of the buses from New York City to experience camp in the country. So much of what I introduced to them was new to them, like jewel weed and the Eastern box turtle that roamed around my cabin. We touched feathers and tried to identify which bird left them behind. We went on walks and listened to the sounds of squirrels scampering and birds calling. It was wonderful to see so many things through their eyes.
As I finished college, completed my science classes, and began writing, my focus was on endangered animals and protecting the environment. By the time, I had my own child and was a Girl Scout leader, I thought I was aware of most environmental issues. I had no idea I was in the dark about something so important. Fortunately, my daughter began working at a nearby farm and I wrote a book called Keeping Our Earth Green. Both brought my attention to a crisis of such magnitude that it would impact everyone. There were not just endangered animals, like pandas, wolves, and bald eagles. There are endangered crops species. Imagine not being able to go to the store and purchase a banana for your lunch or a sweet slice of watermelon. Seeds from many crops are being lost daily for a whole host of reasons, including climate change and modern farming methods. How did I not know that this was happening, that we were losing our biodiversity so drastically? Why wasn’t it on the news daily?
I began to explore the topic and found that there were people all over the world working to save our plants, our crops, our food. It gave me hope!
Now, I wanted to share that with my young readers. I believe with all my heart that they are the people who can make a difference.
It took 8 years for this book to be published, but I was thrilled that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who published Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, would take the leap with me and publish this important story. This book was a journey, not only emotionally, but physically as I traveled as far away as Russia to research this global issue and step through the doors of the brave seed scientists who perished there protecting seeds during WWII.
When I visit schools, and talk to kids and teachers about the importance of our farming methods and food security I am never surprised that they are unaware of the risks that scientists and farmers alike are taking every day to put food on our tables.
I want readers of THE STORY OF SEEDS to know where their food comes from and how they can make choices that make a difference to the future of our food. Although this is a frightening subject, there is so much to be hopeful about. We can celebrate the growth of farmers’ markets and the choice of many heirloom varieties that contribute to our biodiversity. But, we have to remember that with any environmental crisis, it is the marginalized that are impacted the most and the choices we make do indeed have an impact.
I sometimes think about those kids that came to camp every day eager to discover the outdoors with Nature Nancy. They must have their own families now. I hope that they have passed on their curiosity and that they are still interested in the world around them.
Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years. Her 2016 title THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World introduces older readers to the importance of seeds, farming, and the crisis we currently face. It received the Green Earth Book Award and many other accolades. Her latest is BEASTLY BRAINS: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel. Other books include Crystal Kite Award winner SNIFFER DOGS: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World and MISSION POLAR BEAR RESCUE. Her research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia and she loves sharing her adventures with her readers. She has conducted programs at the Boston Children’s Museum, Atlanta Zoo, Tennessee Aquarium, among others and has spoken at the Science Teachers Association of New York State and New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Many of Nancy’s books have received recognitions, including an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, a Smithsonian Notable Book For Children, a NSTA Outstanding Science Trade title, a Crystal Kite Award, Green Earth Book Award, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. In addition to these accolades, she was honored to be the recipient of the 2007 New York State Outdoor Education Association’s Art and Literature Award for the body of her work. As a long-time environmental educator, she treasures this honor and hopes to empower more children with her books about the Earth.
It may be fall, but it’s never too early (or too late) to start thinking about your garden. Once again, we’ve have teamed up with Flower Power Fundraising to offer bulbs, seeds and flowers for planting. These can be ordered quickly and easily online, and 50% of the proceeds from your order will go toward our programs. Flower Power Fundraising offers the best quality bulbs and flowers from Holland and the United States, and offers a 100% money back guarantee. This offer is only available until October 15, 2017, so place your order today. Click here to order.
Support The Nature Generation and get bulbs for a beautiful spring garden! Purchase your bulbs today and for a flat $6 shipping rate, and they’ll arrive on time for fall planting that will yield lovely spring blooms. Selection includes crocus, daffodils, tulips, lilies, anemone and wildflowers, herbs, and more.
Here’s a Sample Package Deal: 35 Spring Beauty Garden for $24.00
Guaranteed to add beauty and charm to your spring garden, this collection of 35 bulbs begins blooming in spring and continues into early summer… year-after-year! Great for planting along walkways and garden borders.. This collection makes a wonderful gift for someone starting out in the garden who wants a trouble free, guaranteed variety of color for the summer season. 5 Mixed Tulips, 5 Yellow Daffodils, 15 Mixed Crocus, 10 Mountain Lilies
your flowers today!
Bulb and Bareroot Basics*
Care Upon Arrival
- Open the package immediately on arrival and plant within a few days for best results. If temperatures are unseasonably hot or cold, or you are unable to plant right away, open the box for ventilation and store in a cool, dark location. Do not allow bulbs and plants to freeze or dry out. Leave in packaging and dampen roots of bare root plants if necessary to keep them moist.
- Bulbs: We use this general term to refer to all bulb-like forms. Technically, we ship true bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes. Some bulbs are hardy and may be left in the ground to over-winter, while others are tender and must be lifted and stored in colder areas. Typically, bulbs bloom the first year they are planted.
- Bare root perennials: Some of our plants are shipped as dormant, bare root divisions. They may appear dead, but will begin growing upon planting and watering. To quicken the process, soak the bare root plants in cool to tepid water for half an hour prior to planting. Some perennials do not bloom the first year of planting, instead concentrating on root and shoot development. Perennials generally do not reach their mature size and flowering potential until the third year.
- As many of our bulbs and plants are long-lived, it is ideal to prepare the soil prior to planting. For best results, mix in several inches of compost into the top 12” of soil. If the soil is sandy or clay, mix in more compost to improve the water retention and drainage respectively. If desired, mix in a slow-release granular fertilizer into the soil.
- Many of our bulbs and bareroot perennials are suitable for planting in containers. Planting in containers may allow you to grow bulbs and perennials that are otherwise not hardy in your soil or climate.
- Choose containers with drainage holes. Use only high quality container mix that has peat and perlite or vermiculite. Do not use garden soil; it is too dense for good root growth, retains too much water and may contain diseases.
- Set plants a little closer than in the garden, but leave a few inches of space between plants.
- Plantings in containers dry out faster. Monitor moisture daily and water as needed.
- Container mix contains few nutrients, so it’s important to feed plants weekly with a well-balanced fertilizer. Follow the fertilizer instructions closely.
- The hardiness zone range for each plant assumes that the plant is growing in the ground. Plants grown in containers are more susceptible to freezing temperatures and cold wind. Plants that normally may be hardy in your zone may not survive the winter in a pot. Over-winter potted plants in a cool space that will not freeze, such as a heated garage or unheated basement. Alternatively, bury non-porous pots in the garden and cover with several inches of mulch. Many pots, especially porous ones such as terra cotta, may break or lose their glazing when allowed to freeze.
- Water: Monitor the moisture of the soil, checking to make sure the root zone is moist. Water as needed. Most young plants require consistent moisture their first year.
- Feeding: Feed garden plants every two to three weeks during the growing season with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer, following directions on the label. Feed container-grown plants on a weekly basis.
- Mulch: Apply a two-inch-thick layer of mulch around plants in garden beds to retain moisture, maintain even soil temperatures and suppress weeds and disease. Keep mulch one to two inches away from plant stems to prevent rot.
- Deadhead: Remove spent flowers to prolong the bloom season and allow the plant to retain more energy for next year’s blooms.
- Divide: Many perennials require division every three to five years. If plants appear too crowded or flower production decreases, it may be time to divide. Dig up the clump, keeping as much of the root system as possible, and divide by gently cutting or pulling clumps away from the main plant. Spring and fall are generally the best times to divide.
- Some of the bulbs and plants we offer are not winter hardy in all areas of the country. They may be treated as annuals and left in the ground to die, or they may be dug up and brought indoors to over-winter. Please refer to plant-specific instructions under Planting Instructions by Flower Name.
Nominations for the 2018 Green Earth Book Award are now open until November 20, 2017. Winners that best convey the message of environmental stewardship will be selected by an expert panel of judges in the picture book, and children’s and young adult fiction and non fiction categories.
The short list will be announced in March 2018, and the winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22, 2018. The award in each of the categories will be comprised of a monetary award of $750 to the author and $750 to the illustrator/photographer (or $1,500 if the author and illustrator/photographer is the same person). In addition, Green Earth Book Award-winning books will be donated to Title I schools or military bases across the country.
by Karen Romano Young
Occasionally sea turtles get into trouble. Even in the nest they’re at risk: ants can dig through their shells and eat what’s inside, wild animals — or dogs — or people — might dig up their eggs for food. Once hatched, chances are low of reaching the ocean, thanks to confusion from lights or predation by gulls or crabs. And so much can happen at sea: entanglement, disease, disorientation that can lead to heading into cold waters.
How on earth can we stand to share this potential for tragedy with kids? By giving them hope. Not only can sea turtles withstand much of the trouble that finds them, but people are working internationally to smooth sea turtles’ paths — and kids can help.
I get a heart-swelling feeling when a book I’ve written about animals and the work people are doing to help them makes its way into kids’ hands. I’m enormously proud that MISSION: SEA TURTLE RESCUE won the Green Earth Award. Not only did the award lead me into classrooms to talk to students and teachers about sea turtles, but it led me to find more ways to tell such stories.
I’ve gone on to write books about other animals (WHALE QUEST, 2017 and SHARK SEEKERS, 2018, both from Twenty First Century Books). Like MISSION: SEA TURTLE RESCUE, these books show kids not only what the lives of scientists and conservationists are like, but demonstrates how regular citizens — including kids — can get involved.
The Green Earth Award also inspired me to look for other ways to share ideas about stewardship of the environment with more people. My next project will take me to Antarctica, to study microbial communities with a group of scientists from Maine’s Bigelow Laboratory. These microbes produce a chemical gas that’s involved in cloud formation. Not only are they important to the Antarctic environment, as the base of the food chain, but as the Antarctic climate changes them, clouds — and global weather — could change, too.
Maybe you can see the difference between this project and the ones I did before. More to the point, maybe you can’t see, because the microbes and the gas formation are pretty much invisible. How do you make a story out of THAT?
My answer is through science comics. I began drawing and writing stories in a visual format while aboard the icebreaker Healy in 2010, when I accompanied a group of scientists who were studying ice levels in the Arctic. The story of walrus stranded and starving on beaches because the ice floes near their food source had melted shocked me — but I couldn’t use only words to tell such a tale. Comics helped — and when the comic found big audiences on the web, I decided to try more.
Now I’ve started AntarcticLog as a way to introduce the expedition I’ll be part of in March – May 2018. It’s early, but the hunger for climate change stories has already helped it find readers.
I hope the Nature Generation audience will look for my new work, both in books and in comics. You can follow #AntarcticLog on Twitter or look for @AntarcticLog on Instagram. My website has a slideshow updated with new comics each week: www.karenromanoyoung.com/antarctic-log.
Thanks to the Nature Generation for your support and inspiration. And thanks to everyone who works to understand, care for, and bring hope to our changing, beautiful Earth.
Karen Romano Young won the 2016 Green Earth Book Award for Children’s Non-Fiction for Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue. She is a science expert and speaks to schools all over the country. She has written numerous fiction and nonfiction books for children, including Doodlebug, Hundred Percent, the Science Fair Winners series and Try This!: 50 Fun Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You. Karen worked at Scholastic News, and wrote for Cricket, National Geographic World, and the Guinness Book of World Records. She was involved in the extreme research journey the University of Delaware takes to the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and spent a month at sea on the R/V Atlantis and dove to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine called Alvin.
- You can begin even before you leave home, by turning your water heater and air conditioner to low settings. Unplug appliances like TVs — they use up to 40 watts per hour even when turned off! Also try to pack light. Hauling extra baggage uses more fuel whether you are traveling by car or plane. Remember to pack reusable water bottles.
- If you are taking a road trip, get your car tuned. A well-tuned car with properly inflated tires uses less fuel because it runs more efficiently — and will keep your family safer. Save more fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by driving at a steady speed and turning off the car at pit stops.
- When flying, choose a non-stop flight for the best fuel efficiency. When you arrive, use public transportation, share a cab or rent an economy or hybrid car to get around.
- It’s natural to want to pamper ourselves while on vacation; we work hard for our time off. Try to temper this mindset during your hotel stay by reusing your towels and sheets, keeping the AC at a reasonable temperature, taking shorter showers, turning off the lights and leaving those over-packaged little bottles of shampoo behind.
July 24,2017: by Loree Griffin Burns
Years ago, as part of a science project I dreamed up for my homeschooling family, my three kids and I recorded as many animals as we could find on our one-acre patch of suburban lawn, scrub and driveway. What we found changed us.
The idea was simple: for nine months, one school year, we photographed every beetle, butterfly, earthworm, salamander, chickadee and tomcat that lived on or passed through our yard. We planned to separate the animals we found into categories visually, and so begin to understand the science of biological classification. It was a fun exercise, and I was thrilled when the kids made the intellectual leap from phyla and species to the concept of evolution. Educational mission accomplished. But so much more than a science lesson happened that year. Sure, I was surprised by the wide variety of animals we encountered, and by how engaged my kids became in the process of looking for them. But what really shocked me—knocked me upside the head, actually—was how the art of looking deepened our connection to the place we lived.
How long had that groundhog lived under the shed, and how could we not have known it? Had walking sticks always crawled over the oak in the side yard? Why had I never looked for paw prints in new fallen snow? And had the kids not taught me this trick, would I ever have met the porcupine that dines in the old pine? Who knew the orange butterflies flitting in and out of our spring and summer days represented such an array of species, and how many had we overlooked before we began to pay attention? Was it wrong to feel such deep and passionate love for the black bear our neighbors were so unhappy about?
There were other lessons in looking, too. We learned to move so slowly that butterflies didn’t notice us lift a camera. We walked around our yard with no destination in mind, studying dirt and leaves, running our fingers over tree bark. We pet flower petals, and then explored the worlds underneath them. We lay on the ground, side-by-side and for so long that an observer would think we’d fallen asleep, listening for clues to animals our eyes couldn’t see. We flushed frogs from mulch piles, tracked slugs, and stumbled onto treasures previously unknown: the hanging wonder of a vireo nest (made with the silver papers of an abandoned wasp nest), the shiny perfection of a butterfly egg (or was it a moth egg?), the shocking call of a pileated woodpecker (surpassed only by the shocking sight of the bird itself).
Coming to know the animals that shared our yard was to contemplate wonder … and it was an invitation to acknowledge how dependent those animals were on how we treated their home, our home. The experience slowed us down, opened our eyes to things we hadn’t realized we’d been overlooking, and ignited a deeper passion for the place in which we lived. Taking stock of the flora and fauna of Hosmer Street rooted us there in a way that ten years of calling it ‘home’ hadn’t done. And after a year, when I sprang on my homeschoolers the punchline to our project—we had dipped a pinky toe into the pool of Animals that claimed this acre, but what about the Plants? And the Fungi? What of the Protists and the Monera?—they had fully embraced their roles as caretakers and natural historians of our little patch of this Earth.
In the years since that homeschool adventure, a lot has changed. For one thing, we’ve moved from our beloved place on Hosmer Street. And this fall, two of my three porcupine trackers will head off to college. But recording flora and fauna has become a habit, and it continues to connect us. I keep a notebook in my office, in which I record the date the red-winged blackbirds return, the first-of-the-season butterfly, and generally track Life at our new place. It’s not unusual for one of the kids to call me into the yard to see a weird beetle, or text me blurry images of ladybugs, or to leave detailed directions to a moth they spotted under the porch lights when they got home the night before, long after Mom was asleep. We’re not formal about our record-keeping anymore (well, unless you count my newfound obsession with iNaturalist), but we’re relentless about looking. No matter where we live, together or apart, in the country or in the city, at home or abroad, I think we always will be.
Loree Griffin Burns wrote the book CITIZEN SCIENTISTS: BE A PART OF DISCOVERY FROM YOUR OWN BACKYARD (Holt, 2012), a Green Earth Book Award winner, with a lot of help from her kids. You can follow the flora and fauna of her life on Instagram (@loreegriffinburns), and read more about her work at www.loreeburns.com. Her next book, LIFE ON SURTSEY, ICELAND’S UPSTART ISLAND (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) will be released in November.
Loree Griffin Burns wrote the book CITIZEN SCIENTISTS: BE A PART OF DISCOVERY FROM YOUR OWN BACKYARD (Holt, 2012), a 2013 Children’s Non-Fiction Green Earth Book Award winner, with a lot of help from her kids. You can follow the flora and fauna of her life on Instagram (@loreegriffinburns), and read more about her work at www.loreeburns.com. Her next book, LIFE ON SURTSEY, ICELAND’S UPSTART ISLAND (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) will be released in November.
These are the pictures the Burns’ took during the year they recorded the flora and fauna of Hosmer Street. Also included is cover of the book they created that year. (© The Burns Family)
Environmental Education is Critically Needed
As new rules and regulations threaten to roll back environmental protections, here’s a couple of reasons why environmental education (EE) and your commitment to support it matters more than ever:
- EE transforms lives and society. It informs and inspires. It influences attitudes. It motivates action. It has the power to help individuals, communities, and organizations learn more about the environment, and develop skills and understanding about how to address global challenges.
Our Green Earth Book Award winning books equip students with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to be stewards of the environment with themes that include the key benefits that North American Association for Environmental Education consider critical:
– examine and clarify their values about and attitudes toward the environment, including the natural world and the human-built environment;
– build skills to address environmental and social issues; and
– undertake behaviors that help protect the environment and work toward a more sustainable future.
To read more, go to: https://naaee.org/about-us/about-ee-and-why-it-matters
- Our kids aren’t prepared. In a global study of young people’s knowledge, skills and attitudes in nearly 60 countries, the U.S. scored below average for their counterparts in developed countries. 17.1% of American students reached highest proficiency level, compared to 30.9% of students in Finland score, 28.4 % of Japanese students, and 26.3% of Canadian students).
With over 100 winning books in the Green Earth Book Award library, along with the support we give to schools and students with environmental projects, we are committed to helping the U.S. number go up – we are teaching kids across the nation that they have the power and knowledge to protect the environment – both now and in the future.
Learn more about the state of environmental literacy at the National Environmental Education Foundation: https://www.neefusa.org/environmental-literacy-report
The good news:
- Many individuals and corporations who understand the positive economic, social and health impacts of a clean planet are stepping up, check out this Grist report on philanthropic support post election: http://grist.org/living/environmental-organizations-see-an-outpouring-of-support-post-election/
- Communities and nonprofits are making a difference, and schools and educators are working on how to make EE part of our kids’ DNA. Click here for a recording of our webinar, “Closing the Environmental Literacy Gap,” to hear more solutions.
Donate today so we can inspire even more kids to care about the planet!
Heading to the beach? Here are some great Green Earth Book Award winning books that feature the ocean – perfect beach read!
Follow the Moon Home, Philippe Cousteau & Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So Saving South Carolina sea turtles (2017 Picture Book winner, ages 5-8)
The Stranded Whale Jane Yolen, illustrated by Melanie Cataldo A child’s effort to rescue a beached whale (2016 Picture Book winner, ages 5-9)
The Eye of the Whale, Jennifer O’Connell The rescue of a whale found tangled in trap lines (2014 Picture Book winner, ages 5-10)
The Sea, the Storm and the Mangrove Tangle, Lynne Cherry Children learn to protect endangered mangroves (2005 Childrens fiction winner, ages 5 and up)
Crane Boy, Diana Cohn; illustrated by Youme (2016 Honor Picture Book winner, ages 6-10)
All the Way to the Ocean, Joel Harper; illustrated by Marq Spusta (2007 Children’s Fiction honor winner, ages 5-10)
The World That We Want, Kim Michelle Toft (2006 Children’s Fiction honor winner)
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin After a tragedy, Suzy travels the globe in search of answers and gets a closer look at nature and science (2016 Children’s Fiction winner, ages 10 and up)
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly Richly imagined novel with themes of conquering fear, and humans’ environmental impact on the sea and its inhabitants (2015 Children’s Fiction winner, ages 5-9)
One White Dolphin by Gill Lewis Story of friendship and community taps into the radiance of nature and explores timely environmental issues (2013 Children’s Fiction winner, ages 8-12)
Wild Wings by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Yuta Onoda Iona McNair is desperate to keep the endangered osprey bird safe from poachers (2012 Children s Fiction winner, ages 8-12)
Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, Maris Wicks An absorbing look at ocean science covers the
biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance (2017 Children’s Nonfiction winner, ages 9-13)
Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue, Karen Romano Young and Daniel Raven-Ellison Provides in-depth information about the habitats,
challenges and successes of sea turtles, so kids can take action to help save these amazing endangered creatures (2016 Children’s Nonfiction winner, ages 10 and up)
Plastic Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Patricia Newman,; illustrated by Annie Crawley Follows three female scientists a small research ship learning about the impact of the Garbage Patch on marine life (2015 Children’s nonfiction winner, ages 8-12)
The Beast of Cretacea, Todd Strasser This futuristic retelling of Moby Dick is an environmental cautionary tale about a dying Earth (2016 Young Adult Fiction winner, ages 12 and up)
Washashore, Suzanne Goldsmith Clem finds a fallen bird and finds a role for herself helping to bring back endangered birds (2014 Young Adult Fiction winner, ages 11 and up)
Flush, Carl Hiassen Young adults discover dangers caused by a boat dumping raw sewage into the Florida Keys (2006 Young Adult Fiction winner, ages 11 and up)
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (2011 Young Adult Fiction honor, ages 12 and up)
Secret of the Sirens, Julia Golding (2008 Young Adult Fiction honor, ages 10 and up)
Inside an Osprey’s Nest, Teena Ruark Gorrow & Craig A. Koppie (2017 Young Adult Fiction honor, age 12-21)
Parents, caregivers and babysitters hear “I’m bored” every summer, so we’ve compiled a list of books that will engage readers ages 3 -18 (adults like them, too) and take the edge off summer tedium.
Some books are guides on how to get outside and explore nature, others tell compelling stories of the heroic efforts young protagonists take to protect the earth. All of them offer a glimpse of the beauty and wonders of nature and are guaranteed to pique interest!
Head to the library or bookstore (or download online), find a comfy spot (preferably outside in a hammock, under a tree, or near a stream or ocean), and let one of these Green Earth Book Award-winning books inspire your imagination!
For Younger Readers:
Follow the Moon Home, Philippe Cousteau & Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So
Acclaimed activist Philippe Cousteau and renowned author Deborah Hopkinson team up to offer a story of the powerful difference young people can make in the world. Meet Viv, who has a new home and a new school by the sea, and follow her as she finds her way in a new place and helps bring together a whole community to save the sea turtles of the South Carolina coast. Ages 4-8 (fiction). See the video trailer.
|The Earth Book, Todd Parr
With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitiviy, Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book. Featuing a circular die-cut Earth on the cover, and printed entirely with recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks, this book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good – from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper, to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways. Ages 3-6 (nonfiction). Watch Todd read his book here.
|10 Things You Can Do to Help the Earth, Melanie Walsh
Do you remember to turn off the tap while you brush your teeth? How about using both sides of the paper when writing and drawing? Or planting seeds and nurturing the new plants as they grow? Bold, child-friendly illustrations and die-cut pages will draw even the youngest listeners to this gentle reminder of the easy, everyday ways we can be kinder to the earth. Ages 3-6 (nonfiction). Click here for an activity sheet to go with the book.
|Garbage Helps our Garden Grow: A Compost Story, Linda Glaser and Shelley Rotner
What is that garbage doing next to the garden? It’s not garbage. It’s compost! Amazing things happen inside a compost bin. In go banana peels, grass clippings, and even an old jack-o’-lantern. Out comes compost. The compost goes into the garden to make the soil rich for new plants. Compost is good for the earth. Composting also helps us make less garbage. In this book, you can watch as one family makes compost for their garden and also learn how to start your very own compost bin! Ages 5-8 (nonfiction). Preview the book here.
|Uno’s Garden, Graeme Base
Interwoven with hidden images and mathematical problems (and solutions!), this book that can be read over and over, and at different levels for different ages. When Uno arrives in the forest one beautiful day, there are many fascinating and extraordinary animals there to greet him—and one entirely unexceptional Snortlepig. Uno loves the forest so much, he decides to live there. But, in time, a little village grows up around his house. Then a town, then a city . . . and soon Uno realizes that the animals and plants have begun to disappear. Ages 1-8 (fiction).
For Middle Years:
|Saving Wonder, Mary Knight
Having lost most of his family to coal mining accidents as a little boy, Curley Hines lives with his grandfather in the Appalachian Mountains of Wonder Gap, Kentucky. Ever since Curley can remember, Papaw has been giving him a word each week to learn and live. Papaw says words are Curley’s way out of the holler, even though Curley has no intention of ever leaving. When a new coal boss takes over the local mining company, life as Curley knows it is turned upside down. Does he use his words to speak out against Big Coal and save his mountain, or does he remain silent and save his way of life? A rich, lyrical, and utterly transporting tale about friendship, the power of words, and the difficult hurdles we must overcome for the people and places we love. Ages 8-12 (fiction).
|The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature, edited by Sarah Schmidt, illustrated by Laszlo Veres
This gorgeously illustrated guide will inspire kids to look closely at the world around them! Created by the experts at the renowned Brooklyn Botanic Garden, it teaches children how to observe environments as a naturalist does and leads them on 24 adventures that reveal the complex ecosystems of plants and animals in the woods, at the beach, and in a city park. Detailed, scientifically based drawings help young scientists identify hundreds of North American plants and animals, while dozens of fun projects include keeping a journal, conducting field experiments, and exploring nature while using all five senses. Ages 8-12 (nonfiction).
|Science Comics: Coral Reefs, Cities of the Ocean, Maris Wicks
This gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views coral reefs. Whether you’re a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty-year-old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you! Learn all about these tiny, adorable sea animals! This absorbing look at ocean science covers the biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance. Nonfiction comics genius Maris Wicks brings to bear her signature combination of hardcore cuteness and in-depth science. Ages 9-13 (nonfiction).
|Pocket Change, Pitching in for a Better World, Michelle Mulder
Until a few hundred years ago, people were embarrassed to buy bread in a store. Families took pride in making almost everything they owned. These days, many people take pride in buying as much as possible! But we use resources equivalent to nearly one and a half Earths, and we’re still not meeting everyone’s needs. Around the world, people are questioning consumerism, leaning toward more sustainable lifestyles and creating a new concept of wealth. What if you could meet all your needs while getting to know your neighbors and protecting the environment at the same time? Find out how growing a tiny cabbage can fight poverty, how a few dollars can help ten families start their own businesses and how running errands for a neighbor can help you learn to become a bike mechanic—for free! Ages 8-12 (nonfiction).
|The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Kathi Appelt
Raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. They serve Sugar Man—the massive creature who delights in delicious sugar cane and magnanimously rules over the swamp—an honor, and also a big responsibility. Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn loves the swamp something fierce, and he’ll do anything to help protect it. And help is needed, because world-class alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn Sugar Man swamp into an Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, and the troubles don’t end there. There is also a gang of wild feral hogs on the march, headed straight toward them all. This s story of care and conservation was selected as a National Book Award finalist, and is funny as all get out and ripe for reading aloud. Ages 8-12 (fiction).
|Dig Too Deep, Amy Allgeyer
With her mother facing prison time for a violent political protest, seventeen-year-old Liberty Briscoe has no choice but to leave her Washington, DC, apartment and take a bus to Ebbottsville, Kentucky, to live with her granny. Half the county is out of work, an awful lot of people in town seem to be sick, and the tap water is bright orange—though officials claim it is safe. And when Granny’s lingering cold turns out to be something worse, Liberty wonders if somebody at the mine is hiding the truth about the water. As she investigates, she is soon plunged into a world of secrets, lies, threats, and danger. Ages 13 and up (fiction).
|The Story of Seeds, Nancy Caltado
Something as small as a seed can have a worldwide impact. Did you know there are top-secret seed vaults hidden throughout the world? And once a seed disappears, that it is gone forever? With the growth of genetically modified foods, the use of many seeds is dwindling—of 80,000 edible plants, only about 150 are being cultivated. An empowering book calls young adult readers to action with suggestions how to preserve the variety of our most valuable food sources through simple everyday actions. Readers will enjoy the depth and fascinatingly intricate social economy of seeds. Ages 12-17 (nonfiction).
|Inside an Osprey’s Nest, Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie
Take a photographic journey through nesting season with a newly mated osprey pair. In this raptor adventure, the ospreys prepare a nest and mate, but their eggs do not hatch. Through a twist of events, the unviable eggs are swapped by biologists with hatchlings from an ill-fated nest. Witness the heartwarming account as the adults become foster parents and care for the young. Watch as the helpless chicks grow into fledglings and experience first flight. Resources include the osprey’s current plight, tips for helping injured ospreys, and a glossary of terms. Teena and Craig also won a Green Earth Book Award for Inside a Bald Eagles Nest: A Photographic Journey. Ages 13 and up (nonfiction).
|Rescued, Eliot Schrefer
Raja has been raised in captivity. Not behind the bars of a zoo, but within the confines of an American home. He was stolen when he was young to be someone’s pet. Now he’s grown up . . . and is about to be sent away again, to a place from which there will be no return. To John, the orangutan was his friend, his brother — never his pet. But when his parents split up and move across the country, he must save Raja and confront his fractured family and the captivity he’s imposed on himself all of these years. Eliot Schrefer’s novel, Endangered was also a Green Earth Book Award winner. Ages 12-17 (fiction).
|The Beast of Cretacea, Todd Strasser
When seventeen-year-old Ishmael wakes up from stasis aboard the Pequod, he is amazed by how different this planet is from the dirty, dying, Shroud-covered Earth he left behind. But Ishmael isn’t on Cretacea to marvel at the fresh air, sunshine, and endless blue ocean. He’s here to hunt down ocean-dwelling beasts and send back to the resource-depleted Earth. Even though easy prey abounds, crews are ordered to ignore it in order to pursue the elusive Great Terrafin. It’s rumored that the ship’s captain, Ahab, lost his leg to the beast years ago, and that he’s consumed by revenge. Dark secrets and dangerous exploits swirl around the pursuit of the beast, and Ishmael must do his best to survive—if he can. Ages 12 and up (fiction).