Earth Day! New Non-Fiction Celebrating Our Planet
April 22, 2021 § Leave a comment
Every year on Earth Day, I smile thinking about my son at age four, who looked up at me with his big brown eyes and asked, “Mommy, aren’t we supposed to care about the Earth every day?” Yes, my boy. Same with Black history and women’s history and all the rest of these annual celebrations. But it sure is nice, now and then, to be nudged to think about our home libraries, about how we might freshen them up in a way that leads to better, richer dialogues with our children. After all, books bring with them such marvelous reminders of what a special, precious gift this planet is.
Today, I’m sharing three new non-fiction titles, targeting a range of ages. Each delivers a wealth of information—be it flowers, trees, or climate change—in clever, arresting, beautiful presentations. These aren’t the non-fiction books of our childhood, with tiny type and dizzying details. They’re a testament to a new way of presenting scientific content to kids, one which doesn’t sacrifice visual ingenuity or narrative appeal. They’re books we parents won’t get tired reading. In fact, we’re likely to learn things alongside our children. What better way to model caring for our planet than showcasing our own curiosity and discovery?
What’s Inside a Flower?
by Rachel Ignotofsky
I have been waiting a long time for a book on this subject, and the fact that it’s so visually enticing is icing on the cake! As Montessorians, my children spent a lot of their early elementary years studying parts of the flower (my husband and I used to joke, oh look, they’re studying flowers again). Their teachers would often ask me to find books that diagrammed flowers for young children and…there are zilch. Enter What’s Inside a Flower?—the start of a promising new series by Rachel Ignotofsky—with a retro color palette and dramatic geometric illustrations. An abundance of details is accessibly delivered—including the growing cycle, photosynthesis, parts of a flower, pollination, and reproduction—via well-spaced text and a relaxed, conversational tone. There are even several clear and simple diagrams! Children with a ray of skin colors are shown tending gardens, both urban and rural, reminding us that flowers—these miraculous living things—are all around us. (For more interior spreads, see yesterday’s Instagram post here.)
The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom
by Lita Judge
Anyone who has been hanging around here for awhile knows I have a slight obsession with tree books (remember this, this, and this?). It might be my advancing age (this is what my children tell me), or it might be the amazing discoveries made by forest ecologists in recent years…either way, I’m here for ALL the tree talk. In The Wisdom of Trees, a true interdisciplinary feat, Lita Judge juxtaposes lyrical poems, atmospheric watercolors, and non-fiction prose to demonstrate the lessons trees teach us about patience, survival, and teamwork. You may know that trees provide food and shelter for countless animal species, or that a dead tree can remain a vital part of a forest ecosystem for a long time. But did you know fungi and trees have a symbiotic relationship? Or that baby saplings can’t produce enough chlorophyll, so elderly trees will step in to help? Or that trees have been known to fight back against predators, or send out distress signals when they are sick? All this fascinating science and more are communicated alongside poetry and art that honors the gravitas of the subject, giving trees a figurative voice and invoking awe from us on every page.
Our World Out of Balance: Understanding Climate Change and What We Can Do
by Andrea Minoglio and Laura Fanelli
For last year’s Gift Guide, I picked a Climate Emergency Atlas, packed with thirty dynamic maps illustrating the causes and impacts of climate change across the world. I still like that one a lot, but I think Our World Out of Balance makes a better introduction to the science of climate change—including what scientists are doing and what WE can do to help. The layout is especially easy on the eyes, and the spirited, diverse illustrations infuse the subject with humanity. Each of the fifteen sections addresses a specific problem—from Oceans of Plastic to Extreme Weather Events to Shrinking Forests—explaining in a handful of steps how that problem came to be, and then concluding with “How you can help,” including anecdotes of other citizen scientists. Rarely have I seen this content presented so clearly, making this a must for every home and classroom library. It is becoming abundantly clear that climate change is affecting every aspect of our planet, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day all year long than inspiring our children (and ourselves) to take the advice in these pages to heart.
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