We live in a time where, unfortunately, our way of life has hurt the world around us. It often feels like the problems are bigger than us, but the reality is that each and every one of us can make a difference. Just as the Lorax once said, “until someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Fortunately, there are wonderful books out there that gives kids the message that everyone can make a difference. Small choices and creative ideas can change the damage.
This thought came to me after reading the new book The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs by Kate Messner and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe. I got to read this book thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange, but the power in the story made me want to connect it to more books that can encourage our children to be the change our earth needs. So like the book geek I am, I looked up other books that fit into the same category of helping our earth and being the change. Some of these I have written about before, but they deserve a spot in this list as well. I’m sure that there are many I missed and you are more than welcome to add to my list in the comments!
Since it was the inspiration, I start with The Brilliant Deep. I wish this book had been around when J was obsessed with coral reefs. She still likes them and considers marine biology as a career, but it isn’t something she researches much anymore. That said, Messner and Forsythe bring you down into the world of the coral reefs and show you how one person with one idea can make a big change. This is the true story of Ken Nedimyer and an accidental discovery of a piece coral growing on a live rock he was farming. Through a love of the ocean and scientific exploration, Nedimyer discovered that he could help regrow coral. At the same time, we get a fascinating lesson on how coral grows. When problems seem to be too large to impact, we all must remember that “it starts with one.” (Thank you to the KidLitExchange for a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own)
To get younger readers to understand why we need to be careful with our resources and our refuse, Julian Lennon and Bart Davis have put together the interactive book Touch the Earth. The book has children board a magical flier and visit various places on the planet. It shows children how our garbage is polluting the ocean and that we need to clean up the mess or the fish will die. Lennon shows that some places need water, some need filtration systems to clean the water, and some need irrigation to help things grow. It gives young minds lots to think about and ways that they might be able to make a difference.
Wiliam Kamkwamba told in The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind. This is the picture book version of the autobiography written by Kamkwamba. When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land. This is a wonderful way to bring a current story to a younger audience.
Making a difference might seem like a huge undertaking for a child or an adult, but even the small steps of getting a group together to pick up trash in the park, to encourage recycling and composting, or helping a charity that is already working towards healing the world, we can all make this world a better place.
Each Wednesday I try to post nonfiction picture books as part of the challenge set up by Kid Lit Frenzy. It’s summer, so my timing is off. That said, there are amazing books available for kids these days. Check the linkups on Alyson’s site for more!