Posts Tagged ‘ save the earth ’

Raising Environmentally Aware Kids: An Essay by T.A. Barron, Author of ‘Atlantis Rising’

Friday, October 18th, 2013

New York Times bestselling author of the young adult Merlin series, T.A. Barron, loves the earth–and often writes about it. His new book, Atlantis Rising is the story of the magical island of Atlantis–not its destruction this time, but instead, its creation. This is the first of a trilogy.

As a writer who cares deeply about the environment, Barron wrote the following essay about how to get our kids to care, too.

“We all know the bad news:  The planet is seriously suffering from all sorts of environmental abuses.  Some people remain stuck in denial. And kids, our last best hope for the future, are being hammered by depressing news and the overwhelming scale of environmental problems – even as they are spending less time out in nature.

In the face of all this, can parents, teachers and others who care about our children do anything? Are there any ways to enlighten as well as empower young people to help protect the air, land, water, and creatures of the Earth?

The answer is Yes.

As a dad, I’ve learned a lot from my kids – starting with how little I really know. But one of the most important things they’ve taught me is that raising environmentally aware young people doesn’t start with learning. No … it starts with loving. Before kids can be expected to understand the facts about our planet, they need to feel an enduring bond with the marvelous places and trees and birds and animals who share that planet with us. We are emotional beings – so we can’t ask kids to protect and steward something they don’t truly love.

That love comes, first, through a child’s experiences in nature. No matter whether that happens in a patch of grass at a city park or somewhere in deeper wilderness – it’s a time of magic.

All kids need is a chance to play in soil or sand or a pile of leaves. To explore a quiet glade (with no electronics to intrude).  To discover a mossy stream or a pair of baby raccoons or a piece of petrified wood that’s a million times older than the child herself. My family, for more than 20 years, has watched butterflies emerge from their cocoons each summer – a thrilling experience for everyone.

All these are teachable moments, offering opportunities to learn more about connectedness, natural patterns, transformation, evolution, water sources, or geologic time. But most of all … they are opportunities to wonder, discover, and love.

When that emotional bond is secure, then it’s time to explain the serious environmental challenges we face – with honesty but also a light touch. The goal is to impart understanding, not despair.  So talk about the links between the purity of water, the health of frogs, and the survival of humankind. Discuss the essential wisdom of not fouling our nest, preserving the complex web of natural systems that support us all. Finally, look at some photos of the Earth from space – and then consider how unique and precious our lonely planet really is. Add all that together, along with nature’s unending ability to delight and surprise … and you’ll have kids who are truly motivated to help save the Earth.

Now comes the hardest part – maintaining hope. In our troubled times, this is difficult for any caring adult.  But it’s even more difficult for young people, who haven’t seen as many winters followed by springtime. The best way to keep kids’ hope alive, I believe, is to convey the idea that every person matters. That every human being – even a child – has the power to make choices that can cumulatively make a difference.

How to do that? Certainly not through lectures or sermons! Instead, just share stories. Whether true tales of remarkable people or fictional tales of unlikely heroes – such stories are lifelines that keep us afloat. They connect us to people who have faced enormous challenges and found the courage to persevere – and sometimes, to triumph.

Hope often eludes us, especially in a world that is sometimes darkened by the clouds of despair. But hope is resilient, like a wildflower in the harshest mountain storm. It can survive, and maybe even flower beautifully.

And if hope survives … so will we.”



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Picture Book Alert: ‘Pinkalicious’ Author Victoria Kann Talks About Her Latest, ‘Emeraldalicious’

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

My kids–even my little boy–love Victoria Kann‘s Pinkalicious picture books. We were psyched to see the newest release in the series, Emeraldalicious, is out in bookstores now.

In Emeraldalicious, Pinkalicious and her brother Peter discover a garbage dump and a magic wand. The themes are about the environment, transformation and, of course, love. The author–also a mom–knows how to capture my children’s attention with her opinionated and spriteful characters, and her graphic collage of artwork delights them. Every page is filled with beautiful details that reach beyond the text and enhance her words. The predominance of green in her latest book is perfect for spring. And it’s definitely the best color to convey her message about taking care of the earth.

I had the chance to talk to Victoria so she could tell me about her work herself. Always clever and fun, Victoria invites kids to interact with her on Facebook and email. Read all about it below.

KK: Tell me about Emeraldalicious.
 Pinkalicious says in Emeraldalicious, “With a little love, we can make the entire world Emeraldalicious.” When you read the book with kids, ask them what they would like to create if they could transform a garbage dump into a garden and could make anything happen. Look at the illustrations and pick out objects that are now obsolete. Ask them what are some greenerrific things that they can do to make the world Emeraldalicious. Post your answers on my Pinkalicious Facebook page or email them to me, and I will share them. We can inspire each other to transform the world into an Emeraldalicious garden! THANKS!

KK: What inspired the sparkly new name?
VK: Emeralds are beautiful and sparkly and have great value, just like our earth. If we take care of our planet and protect nature, our earth will sparkle like an Emerald. It’s the same as going ‘green’ but a lot more fun! In the book, Emeraldalicious, Pinkalicious makes a wand using an unusual flower that she finds. The wand is magical and when Pinkalicious makes up a rhyme using the word ‘love’ she is able to turn the garbage dump into a beautiful, Emeraldalicious garden.

KK: What inspired you to write Emeraldalicious?
VK: KIDS! When I went on book signings many kids asked me to do a book about the environment and going green. Growing up as a kid in NYC there was a city garbage dump under the Brooklyn Bridge. It had old street signs, school desks and other various treasures. I always thought, wouldn’t it be great if it was a playground instead of a garbage dump? What if there was a merry-go-round here instead of all this trash? Someone else had the same thought because many years later the area is now called Dumbo (Down Under The Brooklyn Bridge), and there is a carousel! It really happened!!! In Emeraldalicious, I wanted to show how with a little imagination and a lot of love, something as smelly as a garbage dump could be transformed. Emeraldalicious is a story about using your imagination to create something new. If we can imagine it, we can create it. Perhaps not as quickly as Pinkalicious and Peter did in the book, but it can happen. All great things, from our national parks to the light bulb began as unique ideas.

KK: How is it the same and different as the Pinkalicious adventures in the other books?
VK: Each picture book I do is different from the others. Pinkalicious and Peter are always the main characters, but each book has a different adventure and highlights a different color, either conceptually or literally. They all have messages that children can relate to. After eating too many pink cupcakes and turning pink, Pinkalicious says, “I was me, and I was beautiful”. That is an important lesson for kids. Purplicious is about having courage and standing up for what you believe in. Goldilicious is about using your imagination. In Silverlicious, Pinkalicious loses her sweet tooth and learns that sweetness comes from the inside. And Emeraldalicious is about the power of transformation and taking care of the environment. And all my Early Readers are the continuing adventures of Pinkalicious based on the concepts from the picture books. Fun things happen to Pinkalicious in the Early Readers from building a fairy house to bringing Goldie to school.

Thanks, Victoria! You have earned your spot as a New York Times #1 bestselling author and artist. Emeraldalicious is sure to be a big hit.

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