Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Day for Earth's Children: Three Books for Earth Day, 2008

With Earth Day fast approaching, teachers and parents look for guides to help teach environmental awareness and good citizenship in keeping the earth habitable for all creatures. Some books are inspirational and motivational, some are educational, and some are resources for activities and organizations already in place.

Sheri Amsel's Everything Kids' Environment Book: Learn how you can help the environment-by getting involved at school, at home, or at play (Everything Kids Series) tends toward the latter type of book. Jam packed with information on such relevant subjects as acid rain, noise pollution, wind and solar power production, and endangered animals, this entry in the Everything Kids' series concentrates on hands-on activities in the here-and-now in which children can be easily involved in their own lives--planting trees and gardens, raising funds for projects, neighborhood and city-wide cleanups, and participation in local Earth Day events.

The book includes some "experiments" (really demonstrations) which bring home the effects of pollution and climate change, including a simulated oil spill--easily duplicated at home with water, olive oil, a feather, cat or dog fur, and liquid detergent--which brings home the implications of a a massive oil spill at sea. As a single-source guide to environmental instruction and activities, this one does a highly competent job.

Mara Conlon's cute little ring-bound Brainiac's Go Green Activity Book even comes with its own pen made from recycled materials and has plenty of activities which can be adapted to Earth Day lesson plans. There are puzzles--word scrambles, mazes, word searches--"green" quizzes, and guides for the reader to hands-on, at-home projects and pollution reducing tips, along with attention-getting facts about human effects upon the planet.

Conlon keeps a light, humorous touch throughout, making this book a guide to fun "green" activities. Here's a sample from the AIR CARE WIZARD'S QUIZ:

The ozone layer is
(a) a blanket of gas surrounding the Earth that helps protect us
(b) a fossil fuel
(c) lima beans

With a title that'll grab even the most science-averse kid, there's plenty of solid information wrapped up in a sometimes very funny package in Gas Trees and Car Turds: Kids' Guide to the Roots of Climate Change

Making the many properties of that invisible, odorless, seemingly innocuous gas called carbon dioxide understandable with good science and good humor is the main claim to fame for this short and snappy book. Kirk Johnson, Curator of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, has written a kid-friendly guide to the carbon cycle and our place in it. Johnson brings it all home by showing how planting trees, choosing economical cars and appliances, and making other simple changes can reduce a family's carbon footprint substantially.

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  • I love the Everything books and had several in my classroom library. I will be putting this one on my shopping list!

    By Anonymous Robin, at 3:42 PM  

  • I have recently purchased the Everything Environment book, as well.
    I am the author of a children's nonfiction book about the environment, published in March of 2009--What's It Like, Living Green? Kids Teaching Kids, by the Way They Live. This book features families who live green, and kids who are making a difference for the earth, as well as tips as simple as putting on a sweater, rather than turning up the heat.
    Jill Vanderwood

    By Anonymous Jill Vanderwood, at 11:31 AM  

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