Monday, April 18, 2022

Inspiring Readers to Save the Planet ~ by Christy Mihaly

Happy Earth Week! The first Earth Day in 1970 focused on air and water pollution. Back then, factories spewed so much oil into water that rivers caught fire. Air pollution gave people cancer. But folks generally assumed this was the price of "progress." 

Christy appreciates water!
Rachel Carson's 1962 book, Silent Spring, helped wake Americans up, and Earth Day inspired broad action. I celebrated the first Earth Day with the Girl Scouts, collecting trash at a creek. But in 1970, we didn't appreciate the full extent of the manmade crises facing Earth. 

Today, I worry kids may see climate change as too big to solve, too daunting to fight. But then I watch young people, teens and younger, raising their voices, demanding action, inventing solutions. There's hope. 

That's why I write what I write. I want to give kids information and incentive to save the planet. Books have the power to do that.

I recently wrote a picture book about water. Why water? It's an ordinary, everyday substance—and central to life. I lived a couple decades in California, where water is often scarce. I worked with diverse stakeholders to negotiate a fair division of the waters of the Sacramento River system (leaving enough for the fish), because users held legal "rights" to an amount of water that exceeded the actual flow. Moving to Vermont in the 2000s, I was struck by the moist greenness and the ubiquity of streams and ponds. But I saw that even where water is so plentiful, we must steward it. 

In Barefoot Books WATER: A Deep Dive of Discovery, I wanted to share my deep appreciation of the science and the wonder of water. Working with the talented Barefoot Books team, we developed an engaging, interactive book.

We created a "water droplet" (fictional cartoon character) to offer funny comments and fun facts. We incorporated experiments, activities, and calls to action for that hands-on element, adding flaps and gatefolds too. And while we confirmed that all infographics and illustrations were scientifically accurate, we left room for the amazing illustrator, Mariona Cabassa, to explore the world of water with colorful, imaginative scenes. 

I used playful language, noting, for example, that water is a "shape-shifter," and wrote poetic passages as well. Together I hope that all these aspects of the books help WATER to capture kids' interest and passion and inspire them to be water stewards.

Thank you for joining us today, Christy.  I chatted with Christy about her book, WATER  back in October over at the GROG Blog. And she shares some hands-on water exploration activities on Patricia Newman's Lit Links blog here. You can visit Christy's website here.

1 comment:

  1. It is so important to get youngsters on board about climate change at very young ages. This book looks like a great way to do that. Thanks for telling me about it. I will check it out.