by Anna Cavallo
Yesterday, Earth got quite a bit of attention. The media was all over the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and I’d imagine most classrooms didn’t let the day pass without lessons, activities, or discussions related to taking care of our planet. This is fantastic, in my opinion; yes, let’s have a day when people are inspired to walk or bike somewhere instead of driving, clean up litter, and help kids understand our effect on the environment!
But what about today? And in seven months? Will you still feel compelled to hit the pavement instead of hopping in the car?
For more and more people, the answer is “yes,” as Earth-friendly efforts have gone mainstream in recent years. But we are still a long way from collectively treading lightly. As the New York Times noted yesterday, global coal sales and greenhouse gas emissions are still soaring.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with Rebecca L. Johnson on her book Understanding Global Warming, part of Lerner’s Saving Our Living Earth series. Despite the disturbing nature of the facts presented, it was a fun book to work on. Rebecca is a great science author—an active scientist with a terrific knack for breaking down tough concepts for readers in an engaging way. I also was happy to have a hand in creating a resource that will help kids become informed, responsible citizens of Earth. Not only will they have to deal with the consequences longer than their elders, they also have the power to inform and inspire adults around them.
(Behold the power of offspring! In the past year, a friend and I both unintentionally inspired our parents, in their 60s, to start running. So surely, a fair number of parents would be motivated by a middle-schooler’s enthusiasm about a green roof model or a preschooler’s drawing of Earth with a frowny-face.)
Saving Our Living Earth books cover Earth-friendly design, energy, waste management, air quality, land, rain forests, Earth’s water supply, and global warming. One of my favorite series features is the “Going Green” section in the back of each book. It offers a variety of ways that kids can conserve resources, pollute less, and have a positive impact on the environment. It also encourages kids to write to public leaders to make their voice heard. A sample letter in Rebecca’s book concludes, “Thanks. Earth is depending on us.” What a simple, important sound bite for readers to take home.
How will you tread lightly for the 364 days that are not Earth Day? Will you share your Earth-friendly expertise and enthusiasm with a student—or let them share theirs with you? Leave a comment and let us know.