Kids saving the environment

I remember when I was growing up, Greenpeace was gaining a lot of steam. The issues they were talking about seemed far away. Fast forward and recycling became a hot thing. We were told to put cans and bottles into separate receptacles and that it would help the environment because those things could get re-used rather than just thrown away. Now we are finding out that our recycling efforts are not always actually happening and are winding up at the bottom of oceans.

What can we do? A few picture books have come out that help show kids how to make a difference.

The Blue Giant, by Kattie Cottle, is the second in her series of great environmental books for kids. This great story focuses on the fact that our oceans are full of garbage and no one seems to notice. So when Meera and her mother spend a day at the beach, a blue giant rises out of the ocean to show them. They start the clean-up process under the waters and then continue on the beaches. Meera’s cleaning brings some of her friends to help and it continues from there. One step leads to others.

*Note – I received a copy of this from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Kattie Cottle’s other book came out last year, The Green Giant. Young Bea leaves the city to spend the summer with her grandfather. One day she meets the Green Giant – a literal plant man. He was germinated (GREAT word for kids) in the city ,but the dirty, grey of the city forced him to leave. Bea loved the summer with the green giant and took the seed that he gave her to try and bring some green back to the city. This book allowed kids to see that sometimes we don’t notice the grey around us until we step out of it. Bea saw what was possible and took the steps necessary to bring some green, some nature, back into her life.

*Note – I received a copy of this from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

By now, most kids have heard of Greta Thunberg. Jeanette Winter has brought us the book Our House is on Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet. Using Greta’s own words, she drives the point home – I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic…I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is. This book allows kids to see what her process was to become the super activist she is now. One video really captured her attention and she couldn’t let it go. She had to do something, but she was only one teenage kid. The thing is, her small act of peaceful protest moved more to join her and together they made their voices heard.

While the book is set in India, The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the story of a young boy who refused to sit by and let his village die. As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River, so he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng—and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make.

Lonely Planet brings us The Plastic Problem: 60 Small Ways to Reduce Waste and Save the Earth. This book is awesome. It gives readers an understanding of how plastic is used, how it has taken over our lives, and the problems that it is creating. Any kid could look through this book and see the impact that plastic has on our earth and then be moved to do something different. Ideas start out simple and get more toward zero waste as they progress. The actions are separated into the area of your life that they take place – bedroom, bathroom, your lunch. If we all did a few of these things, it would make a huge difference. Lonely Planet also published 101 Small Ways to Change the World in 2018 with both environmental and social changes.

Now this is one I haven’t read, but I really want to – If We Were Giants, by Dave Matthews. The DMB was very big when I was in college, but I guess as he has gotten older he has found another way to get his message to the masses. This is a middle grade fantasy that has a social activism/environment aspect to it.

Another book that I haven’t read but am greatly intrigued by is How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet by Lee Constable. From the books synopsis, “As a waste warrior in training, you will earn badges as you work your way through each chapter, completing activities, DIYs and eco-experiments. Every part of this training will enhance your understanding of waste management and the impact our household rubbish is having on the (stinkin’) planet.” Perfect!

It isn’t just about activism. Kids also can make a huge difference by simply upcycling old things rather than just throwing them away. Have broken crayons? Melt them. Have a broken barrette? Use it to make some sort of art. That’s the message in Kenya’s Art by Linda Trice. Kenya needs to show what she did over break and a trip to the art museum inspires her.

What inspires you to make a change? Where do your passions lie? My 13 year old knows that not only does she want to be a marine biologist, but she wants to be one highly active in conservation and education. Everyone can make a difference.

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