Friday, April 17, 2020

Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids

Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: Her Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities and Experiments 
by Rowena Rae
144 pages; ages 9 - 12
Chicago Review Press, 2020

With Earth Day coming ‘round the bend, I couldn’t help but grab this new book about Rachel Carson out of my book basket. It’s part of the For Kids series, fun books that feature hands-on activities and experiments.

About 100 years ago, a 14-year-old girl grabbed her notebook, camera, and lunch and headed off to the woods with her dog. That girl was Rachel Carson, a curious kid who wanted to know the names of all the trees and discover which birds were nesting in them. Rachel wanted to pursue science, not an easy path for a woman in the 1920s. But she persisted, doing research at Woods Hole and eventually working with the Bureau of Fisheries – not as a biologist, but writing radio scripts for a series called “seven-minute fish tales.” She kept writing, and eventually got hired as an aquatic biologist, writing and editing reports and information sheets.

Carson loved the sea and was lucky enough to get a grant allowing her to do research and work on her book, The Sea Around Us. After the war, technology brought many new inventions to the market, from kitty litter to bug sprays. Rachel became worried about one widely used chemical, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). She was interested in how the pesticide affected wildlife, and learned that the poison accumulated in birds and other animals.

When Rachel began writing Silent Spring, she used metaphors and anecdotes to connect the important findings from chemistry, biology, and statistics to readers’ emotions. She wanted readers to understand that people depend on things that nature provides, such as pollinators, water filtration, and other “ecosystem services” and need to protect it. Her writing inspired a generation of women scientists and environmental writers; you can meet one, Rebecca E. Hirsch, over at the Grog Blog on Wednesday.

The hands-on activities range from writing nature-inspired haiku to examining food webs, making a worm farm to identifying the ecological services of a tree. Back matter includes a glossary, resources to explore – including places to visit – and chapter notes.

If you're looking for picture books about Rachel Carson, check out these posts here and here.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. This sounds like a great book for kids right now who are stuck at home needing ecology adventures. Awesome that Rachel Carson could explore her passion in those times.

  2. It's amazing how Rachel Carson pretty much singlehandedly stopped the use of DDT, so it's great to see books telling her story to younger kids! Thanks for the great review!

  3. I love Rachel Carson and her book "Silent Spring." I reviewed another children's book about her, but I really like this one. So much of what she predicted is happening. A new generation needs to know how important her work was/is. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This sounds like an interesting read! I know both my sons, who love science and nonfiction, have enjoyed books in this series. I can see this appealing to a lot of MG readers!

  5. Rachel Carson is a real inspiration to modern day kids. This will be a book I'll have to get. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  6. I love the Chicago Review Press non-fiction books for kids. This sounds like a great addition to their list. Thanks for the heads up.