Tomás and the Library Lady

Tomás and the Library Lady

Imagine that you are a young boy, uprooted every few months as your parents drive from place to place, following the work available to them. The road is dusty and long, the days are hot and dry.

Now imagine that into the midst of this life comes an almost magical being, one with the gift of limitless adventure and the means to escape the drudgery of everyday life.

Tomás is the son of migrant farm workers; with his parents, brother, and grandfather, he travels between Texas and Iowa as the seasons change. The work is hard, but the strength of the family prevails. Papá Grande, Tomás’ grandfather, tells stories in Spanish to keep his grandsons entertained. One afternoon, he tells Tomás to visit the local library in search of new stories.

Feeling shy and out of place, Tomás hesitates on the steps of the vast building. His fear is short-lived, however, as the library lady invites him inside for a drink and a chance to read anything and everything he wants.

Tomás accepts, opening the door to friendship and endless possibilities.

As a lifelong library patron, I don’t remember the first time that I wandered the stacks. What I do remember is the sense of reverence that I feel, much like Tomás feels, every time I visit a library. Tomás and the Library Lady is a truly beautiful book, visually and emotionally. Based on the early life of University of California Chancellor Tomás Rivera, Pat Mora’s story is accompanied by warmly inviting illustrations by Raul Colón.

For any parent seeking diversity in children’s literature, or a way to recapture the sense of awe that comes with knowledge, Tomás and the Library Lady is an excellent choice.

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Happy Sixth Birthday, Little Pickle Press!

Yes, it’s our sixth birthday, and we’d like to share six reasons that Little Pickle Press rocks!

  1. Free lesson plans.
  1. Empowering and inspiring stories.
  1. Timely and engaging themes.
  1. Low carbon footprint.
  1. High-quality books.
  1. YOU!

We wouldn’t be here without the support of our wonderful readers, so join the celebration and send up a cheer as Little Pickle Press turns six years old!

Sixth Birthday
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Featured Young Writer of the Month:

Crazy About Birds

In honor of Earth Day (and a really neat post), Team Pickle would like to present the following essay by Zoe McCormick. It was originally published on this blog in 2013.

My parents often tell the story about when I was four years old and they put up a hummingbird feeder. The first time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder I got so excited that I talked nonstop for over an hour about it. I talked so fast, nonstop, for so long, that my parents began to worry that there might be something wrong with me. They worried that I might be crazy. They were right. I am crazy—crazy about birds.

After seeing the hummingbird at the feeder, I insisted that my parents get some books about hummingbirds. I wanted to do research on hummingbirds so I could figure out what kind of hummers we had at our feeder, and learn everything that I could learn about hummers. Ten years later, I am still crazy about birds.

Crazy about birds

When I was nine, I joined 4-H because I realized that if I did the poultry project, I could talk my parents into getting me a chicken. When I was twelve, my grandmother took me to sit by the lake on her ranch. She brought a bird field guide and binoculars and we spent the afternoon identifying birds. For some reason, I loved seeing a bird and being able to look in the field guide, identify the bird, and learn all about it. Ever since then, I have carried a field guide and binoculars with me almost everywhere I go, and continue to work on bird identification.

Bird identification is an important scientific tool. Bird identification helps ornithologists (scientists who study birds) learn about the health of bird populations as a whole. Bird populations tell us about the health of our planet. Birds are the canary in the coalmine when it comes to climate change. Scientists who study birds are finding dramatic changes in bird populations. Birds are showing up where they are not supposed to be for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, because of climate change, the food they depend on is scarce, and birds have to leave their normal territory to look for food. All birds depend on water for their survival. When we destroy wetlands and dam rivers, we are destroying the water supply and habitat that birds need for survival. The thing is that it’s not just about the birds. We people need a healthy planet to survive, too.

I go birding every chance I get. I enter the birds I see in eBird, a huge online database of bird sightings from all over the world. Scientists use the data from eBird for various studies. I also work with other birders doing data collection. I enjoy meeting other birders and learning from them. I have been working on Waterbird surveys with the Richardson Bay Audubon Center. When my family travels, I do research on the birds in the area that we will be visiting, and plan where we will go birding.

Crazy about birds

There are not a lot of kids who are interested in birding. I sometimes wish there were other kids to go birding with, but the most important thing for me is to be doing something that I am passionate about.

What are you passionate about? How did your parents encourage your passion in a particular field? What are you doing to encourage your kids? Tell us in the comments section!

Earth Day

The History of Earth Day

Author, artist, and fellow Pickle Dani Greer is a staunch advocate for environmental responsibility. The following is a post that she originally published on this blog is 2011.

“I am wondering where you were on April 22, 1970? Were you aware, and did you celebrate Earth Day way back in the 70’s?”

A friend posed this question on an online forum, and it took me back to high school days. I did indeed know about Earth Day, because several teachers in the military school I attended in Germany were from California and were very environmentally conscious, as was the German culture in which we lived. So it’s not surprising that my green roots were planted early on.

In an earlier blog post we wrote about the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, where in 1970 that city’s celebration began, propelled by an oil spill offshore in 1969.  Earth Day was founded there by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. It marked the beginning of the environmental movement, and it was estimated 20 million people participated on some level throughout the country.

While this first Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. The Earth Day Network included NGOs, quasi-governmental agencies, local governments, activists, and others. Earth Day Network members focused on environmental education; local, national, and global policies; public environmental campaigns; and organizing national and local earth day events to promote activism and environmental protection.

It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly why the movement not only lasted but blossomed for more than forty years, and slowly made inroads into mainstream thinking. Certainly, the straightforward Earth Day name (rhymes with Birthday) and the scheduling at the vernal equinox, when the natural switch from winter to spring brought a sense of rebirth, helped lay the psychological groundworks. But perhaps more important was the organization of the early movement, or more clearly stated, the lack of organization. Earth Day was at its foundation, a grass roots effort. As Senator Nelson attests, it simply grew on its own:

“Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

From decade to decade, the movement has grown worldwide, and in 2000 Earth Day first used the Internet as its principal organizing tool, which proved invaluable domestically and internationally. The movement has grown exponentially in the eleven years since that marker event.

But is it enough? In the four decades since the Santa Barbara oil spill, a memory of a more recent oil disaster looms. Perhaps even more consequential is the nuclear disaster in Japan. How much more can the planet take? Do you think we’re doing enough to turn the tide of environmental degradation? If not, what are some thoughts on how to improve the situation for future generations? Please leave us a comment.

Photo courtesy of pageresource.com; Earth viewed from Apollo 17.

Earth Day

Top 10 Earth Day Ideas

It’s easy to think of Earth Day as a fairly grownup sort of holiday, what with pledges to install a recycling bin or walk to work, but I believe that it’s just as much as kid’s holiday. Kids will inherit this planet, and there’s no time like the present to teach them all of the wonderful ways that we can help to preserve it. Use the following craft ideas to celebrate Earth Day, and sneak in a little bonding time while you’re at it.

Prepare for the big event by downloading LPP’s complimentary Earth Day Activity Booklet, and then cruise your house for supplies.

  1. Egg Box Garden—A little soil, a few seeds, and some water are all you need to make your carton grow. Once your seedlings are standing tall, you can plant the biodegradable cardboard carton directly in your outdoor garden spot.
  2. Feed the Birds—Pinecones and peanut butter go together like chocolate and caramel, but they’re much safer for the birds. Slather a pinecone (or three) with peanut butter, and then roll it in bird seed. Tie a short piece of jute twine to the stem and hang up your homemade feeder near a window.
  3. Creature Comforts—Is that box of cereal empty? Don’t throw it away just yet! Open it up, flatten it out, and you’ve got a sturdy sculpting material. Cut the cardboard into strips to make a caterpillar chain. Decorate half a dozen butterflies to hang as a mobile. You can even cut away just one broad side of the box to make a backdrop for an aquarium diorama!
  4. Earth Day Cakes—Tint cake batter blue and green before swirling the colors together to bake up some palatable planets. If you have a large cake decorating tip, you can give each one a “molten core” of strawberry jam.
  5. Watch the Wind—Use sturdy construction paper (or that empty cereal box) and some ribbons or crepe paper streamers to make a windsock. You’ll add some color to your yard and see which way your hat will blow.
  6. Print Your Praises—Write your own poem about our planet. Choose a word or phrase like “Earth Day” or “Recycle,” and create a mini-opus by starting each line with a letter from your chosen words.
  7. Cut the Power—How low can you go in power consumption? Put your heads together to come up with meals, activities, and entertainment that requires little to no gas or electricity. See who can go the longest without reaching for a cell phone or laptop. Spend the day outside to take advantage of all that free light.
  8. Adopt-A-Mile—Grab your gloves and garbage bags and de-clutter the ditches! Adopt-A-Mile programs get communities involved in making the world a cleaner, greener place.
  9. Listen to the Rhythm—What’s more earth-friendly than rain? Evoke the sounds of a spring rain with a homemade rainstick. Cap off one end of a paper towel tube with craft paper and a rubber band, add a handful of uncooked rice and some long, pleated strips of thin cardboard (there’s that cereal box again). Cap the other end, add some decorations, and enjoy a leak-proof indoor storm.
  10. Plant a Tree—It’s almost a cliché by now, but planting a tree is my favorite Earth Day activity. Choose native stock for heat and drought tolerance, and don’t forget to check for water and power lines before you dig.

There are tons of ideas out there for a green celebration; these are just a few. What will you be doing for Earth Day? Share your thoughts in the comment section; we love to “read” from you!

Water Library

Featured Library of the Month:

Wisconsin's Water Library

If you live in Wisconsin, you have access to an incredible resource dedicated to one of the most valuable elements on the planet: water.

Wisconsin’s Water Library was created to provide science-based curriculum, research, and outreach activities related to the water systems of the Great Lakes and Wisconsin. Their extensive collection contains more than thirty thousand volumes, plus videos, journals, and newsletters.

The Water Library was established in 1964 as an extension of the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute. In addition to preserving vast amounts of water-related information for both future use and historical value, the library provides research services to the Water Resources Institute and the Sea Grant Institute, both of which are administered by the University of Wisconsin Aquatic Sciences Center.

While use of the library itself is restricted to residents of Wisconsin, the website offers a number of helpful links and ideas to the interested visitor. Parents and educators can find story time and project ideas, and patrons of all ages can find answers to all kinds of water-related questions.

With Earth Day fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to visit the Water Library and soak up some knowledge.

Green-Collared Job

Green-Collared Job: Now Hiring

It’s important to love what you do, and loving your work makes your job, well, feel less like a job. It is certainly never too late, or too early, to pursue a new career. Consider a green-collared job and do something fulfilling for both yourself and the world around you. You can make some green while saving green.

A green-collared job is a career that works to benefit or conserve natural resources. The green job market is projected to continue growing and more careers are “going green” and becoming more environmentally and socially responsible. Here are just a few green collar job possibilities to explore:

Law: If the Lorax had a job, he would be an environmental lawyer. You speak for the trees! And litigate for them.

Related Careers: Policy, Law

Education: My environmental systems class in high school changed my life. It was the first time I ever thought about things like my carbon footprint, and the first time I ever had to drag around a bag of my trash for a week (but that’s for another blog post), but the moral of that story is that shaping young minds to value and protect our earth’s resources is one the most important jobs of all.

Engineering: They have an engineer for everything, including green structures and systems. Jobs like environmental and civil engineering explicitly focus on issues of conversation and sustainable development. Technology is advancing the ways we can both maintain our lifestyles and protect the environment.

Conservation: Park ranger, Naturalist, Eco Tour Guide, Advocate, Activist … the possibilities are endless! Many of these jobs are offered through non-profits and allow you to work outside with both people and animals.

Construction: Homes and buildings are becoming more sustainable and eco-friendly as new resources, like solar panels, are developed and widely installed.

Agriculture: These careers are fundamentally green in many ways, but more resources are directed towards researching and improving the sustainability of agriculture. More farmers (like ten million according to some experts) are needed to continue small, sustainable farming practices.

Pushing (recycled) paper: Green jobs have offices, too! Most jobs, like sales, accounting, and management are required in green companies, as well. Jobs such as sustainability analysts and sustainability consultants are popping up in many traditional companies.

Tree hugger: Okay, this one doesn’t pay, but this should be a job for all of us!

If you can’t change your career, you can always make your current job a green job! As in your personal life, there are always little ways to change your lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly. We can all do things in the workplace that can minimize our carbon footprint, or even seek out jobs and projects that benefit our environment. Just as you vote with your dollar, you can make a stand by how you earn that dollar. If you’re interested in turning your current job into a green job, consider checking out B Corporations. That’s what we did!

Take a look at these green-collar job boards, and please share your green-collared job down below!

Green Job boards:

http://www.greenjobsearch.org

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/greendreamjobs.main

http://www.greencollarblog.org/green-job-boards.html

http://www.conservationjobboard.com

Green Arcade

Featured Bookseller of the Month:

The Green Arcade

With a name like “The Green Arcade,” our Featured Bookseller of the Month sounds like double the fun of your typical shop. And it is!

Green is for the environmental message of many titles in the shop inventory; farming, nature, and sustainability are all subjects brought to the fore in The Green Arcade. Green also represents their online catalog, saving paper while sharing the wealth of the printed word.

Arcade is for the hours of mental adventure you can enjoy inside the shop itself. Remember the penny arcades from years past? You can rekindle that sense of excitement as you explore shelves featuring niche books and local authors. And you won’t have to keep bugging your folks for coins!

Whether you’re tooling around San Francisco or looking online, The Green Arcade is one stop you’ll want to make. Peruse the online catalog, and don’t forget to check out their list of links for conservation, service, and sustainability resources.

Go Green, and you’ll see what we mean!

Little Pickle Press wants to help you save green when you spend some green! During the month of April, you’ll receive 30% off of your order AND free shipping when you order one of our green titles: Sofia’s DreamWhat Does It Mean to be Green?or A Bird on Water StreetUse code BEGREEN at checkout.

Earth Activism

Earth Activism

It’s April and that always brings to mind Earth Day on the 22nd. It’s easy to blow off the date, claiming that one person can’t really make a difference. But I’m here to tell you, one person can make a difference. I have, and so has Jack.

In A Bird on Water Street, thirteen-year-old Jack is growing up in a landscape devastated by a century of poor mining practices. All the trees in his world were cut down to fuel the roasting heaps, which removed copper from raw, mined ore. The practice left a fifty-square-mile area of denuded landscape stretching across the north Georgia and Tennessee towns of McCaysville, Copperhill, and Ducktown. Before the smelters were enclosed, those open roasting heaps pumped clouds of sulfuric dioxide into the air nonstop (which came down as acid rain and killed off any remaining vegetation). Jack has spent his life watching friends and family die from cancers believed to be caused by his toxic home. Talk about feeling powerless!

And yet, Jack finds a way to drive change. His passion for trees and nature ends up giving him the means to shape his life and his home for the better.

Earth Activism

 

I found a way too—by sharing Jack’s story about this very real man-made environmental disaster and a young boy navigating his way through it to better understanding and change. Through Jack’s observations, the reader is made aware of the impact that mankind can have on Mother Earth—this seemingly tough environment which is actually quite fragile. The reader learns how greed and apathy can have lasting and long-reaching results. And most importantly, the reader learns that even a young boy, through his passion for trees and nature, can make a difference. All it takes is desire for change, and that is something we can all embrace.

Earth Activism

 

What can you do? Plant a tree, turn off the lights, walk instead of drive, recycle, write a story to increase awareness. Or just share A Bird on Water Street with the young readers in your life. If knowledge is power, then sharing this story of environmental redemption could change the thinking of the next generation, making them better caretakers of our globe. And isn’t that what Earth Day is all about?

Share the Earth activism message with your kids! During the month of April, you’ll receive 30% off of your order AND free shipping when you order one of our green titles: Sofia’s Dream, What Does It Mean to be Green?, or A Bird on Water Street. Use code BEGREEN at checkout.

Green Living

Featured B Corp of the Month: Green Living

This April, we’re seeing green—Green Living that is! This month’s Featured B Corp of the Month is Green Living, Canada’s award-winning cause marketing agency. Our friends to the North bring top experts from every field to connect your brand to conscientious customers, helping you reshape and redefine what it means to be successful in business. Last year they were honored “Best for the World” by B Corp and they show no hint of slowing down!

Green Living

Their online publication, Green Living Online, is a network that brings information and resources together to create a one-stop shop wealth of information, connecting you to the items you want and educating you about the product—all at the same time. Now, anything you could ever want to know about living conscientiously and sustainably is available with the touch of your mouse! You can find exactly what you want with just a few clicks. Or you can let the many tabs of information entice you to wander around the site, reading about everything from food to fashion to news—like a certain writer who got sidetracked learning about Responsible Landscaping Tips instead of writing this article …

Green Living

At the 2015 Green Living Show, their flagship event, this company demonstrated its strong commitment to the environment and healthy living—free admission was offered in exchange for old recyclable electronics! There was food (lots of it), shopping, educational speakers and panels, and lots of opportunity to play and explore with exhibits and workshops. Visit the homepage to see a list of their attractions; it’s family friendly!

We wholeheartedly agree with their motto, “A Healthier You, A Healthier Planet” and appreciate them for keeping both the planet and us healthier.

Make Green Living your homepage today, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Green

It’s Easy Bein’ Green

Huzzah! April has arrived, which means that real spring weather will (hopefully) be sticking around for more than a breath or two. Earth Day is right around the corner, and Team Pickle is looking to celebrate.

See, we’re offering a really cool deal that lets you save some green when you buy green—our awesome green titles, that is. During the month of April, if you buy What Does It Mean To Be Green?, Sofia’s Dream, or A Bird on Water Street, you’ll receive 30% off of your entire order AND get free shipping. Not sure which one to get? Don’t worry; we’ve compiled some of the reviews for each title to help you make up your mind.

What Does It Mean To Be Green?

“Looking for a simple way to explain to a child what it means to be Green and Eco-friendly? The book What Does It Mean To Be Green? by Rana DiOrio and published by Little Pickle Press is perfect to help you do just that! It is written well with cute illustrations and easy for children to understand. This books encourages children to help others, even grown-ups, to be green too!” —Easy Green Mom. Read the full review here.

What Does It Mean To Be Green? takes young readers on an educational quest to find the meaning of living green. Written by Rana DiOrio, the story opens with a comically homonymic journey through other meanings of being green such as feeling sick in a car or looking like a frog. The author guides the reader through the true meaning of being green with environmentally-friendly tips in kid-friendly language. DiOrio even includes some eye-catching statistics about the importance of protecting the Earth’s precious resources in a way that adults and children alike will be awestruck by the sheer waste that occurs.” —Angela Pike, The Giggle Guide. Read the full review here.

Sofia’s Dream

“Whether you are looking for a well-illustrated and charming bedtime book or a gentle lesson (but strong message) in caring for our environment, Sofia’s Dream is an absolute delight for children and parents, alike.” —Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review. Read the full review here.

Sophia’s Dream is a beautifully written (by Land Wilson) and illustrated (by Sue Cornelison) book about a “thoughtful girl” named Sophia and her relationship with the moon, “her giant pearl.” The story is written in a melodic rhyme and draws both adults and children into Sophia’s journey to understand the moon’s “gloomy face.” —Marnie, Carrots Are Orange. Read the full review here.

A Bird on Water Street

A Bird on Water Street takes the specific problems of a lesser-known locale and deftly layers universal teenage concerns, such as the question of what kind of person to become, and what path to take. Appropriate for advanced elementary/middle school readers, the book holds crossover appeal for older teens with its attention to setting and culture. A useful author’s note provides historical context. This book is recommended as an example of hope amid bleak landscapes.” —Karen Rigby, Foreword Reviews. Read full review here.

“After reading A Bird on Water Street, I’m more appreciative of the wealth of trees, birds and even bugs (!) in my own neighborhood. I highly recommend this enjoyable read.” —Jeanne Ryan, author of NERVE. Read full review here.

Little Pickle Press

Of course, it’s all well and good to talk about living the green life, but Little Pickle Press walks the walk, too. Behold:

“DiOrio has made a huge commitment to “green” business practices. Little Pickle books are manufactured in Wisconsin with soy inks and recycled paper. They’re packed in cartons made with recycled cardboard, and when gift wrap is requested, the press uses paper ribbon with recycled content, printed with soy ink. Early on Little Pickle pursued certification as a B Corporation, and it has just been recertified.” —Linda Carlson, Independent Book Publishers Association. Read the full review here.

“DiOrio … works with eco-minded vendors and is mindful of the environment at each phase of the supply chain, eschewing dust jackets, printing with soy inks on recycled paper, and donating 10 percent of the purchase price of three of its books to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. The publisher is also courting authors whom DiOrio believes embrace its mission of positive change.” —Bridget Kinsella, Publisher’s Weekly. Read the full review here.

Like what you’ve read? Choose your favorite and use code BEGREEN at checkout to get your 30% savings and free shipping. Of course, if you can’t decide, we won’t mind a bit if you decide to buy all three.

Sierra Club

The Sierra Club: A Range of Possibilities

Considering the difficulty of coordinating ten people for a dinner party, it’s nothing short of amazing that the Sierra Club boasts two million members and supporters. Sounds like pretty compelling evidence for the belief that more and more people every day are becoming concerned about the health and welfare of our planet.

A self-described “environmental organization,” the Sierra Club was founded in 1892 by conservationist John Muir and a few of his close friends. While the group organizes more than twenty thousand local and international outings each year, the Sierra Club is no mere hiking fraternity. Its members are the driving force behind much of our better-known ecological legislation, including the establishment of national parks, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

In 1916, two years after John Muir’s death, his dream of a bureau to oversee and protect national parks was realized when President Wilson created the National Park Service. Since then, the Sierra Club has worked tirelessly to create, expand, and preserve protected wilderness areas across the country, helping to save some two hundred fifty million acres from over-logging, flooding via dams, and industrial destruction.

Sierra Club members pride themselves on preserving our national, natural heritage. As we celebrate Earth Day this month, let’s remember how far we’ve come with eco-legislation, and think of how far we have to go.

Let your voice be heard. Make every day Earth Day.

Share the environmental message with your kids! During the month of April, you’ll receive 30% off of your order AND free shipping when you order one of our green titles: Sofia’s Dream, What Does It Mean to be Green?, or A Bird on Water Street. Use code BEGREEN at checkout.

Kids

Kids Say the Smartest Things

Little kids are amazing. They soak up new information like sponges, and they’re wildly enthusiastic about the things that they love. It was my privilege to visit with a group of first-graders recently; we talked about the vital connection between life and Earth, emphasizing the need to keep our planet clean and healthy. Despite the broadly abstract nature of the topic, the students took the talk to heart, creating essays and pictures about why it’s important to take care of the Earth. Click on photos to enlarge.

Kids

“If you don’t pick up trash you will not have food and water. If you don’t take care of the Earth you will spread germs. If you cut down lots of trees you will not have oxygen.” –Makiya

Kids

“Trees give us oxygen so we can smell.” –Samantha

Kids

“It keeps us alive; to keep the animals safe, we need a clean world.” –Zackary

Kids

“So we don’t suffocate. What would we eat and drink? What would you do if your friends couldn’t breathe?” –Gavin

Kids

“I am picking up the park because I want to stop pollution and put it in the trash can. If you cut down the trees we have no oxygen.” –Lane

Kids

“I like to clean Earth. I like to do it because I like to live. When you clean you help the Earth; that is good because you would be able to breathe.” — Kaylee

Kids

“Trees help us to breathe. Trees keep the dirt in place. We need the Earth clean.” –Hannah

These are just a few of the terrific essays that were turned in; all of the kids did a great job and asked plenty of thoughtful questions. A special thank-you to Abigail, Aleycia, Patrick, Ozzy, Teagan, Gage, Addison, Alexys, Jacob, Marcus, Carston, Zach, Evan, Austin, Hannah, Makiya, Samantha, Zackary, Gavin, Lane, Kaylee, and Tommy. If you’d like to continue the conversation with your own kids, consider picking up a copy of What Does It Mean To Be Global? or any of our other eco-friendly, green titles.

Why do YOU want to help take care of the Earth?

Featured Young Writer

Featured Young Writer of the Month:

Why Do Kids Care About Our Planet?

In keeping with this month’s theme regarding the vital connection between life and Earth, we’ve reached into the archives to find this gem from Featured Young Writer Sarah Marjorie. Sarah wrote this as an eighth-grader, and her words ring just as true today.

Why do kids care about our planet? We care because it’s our future. The planet Earth is our home. It supplies us with the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the nutrients that are necessary for us to survive. At my school, which is a three-year middle school, we spend each year focused on one part of the Earth. In sixth grade, we studied the global water crisis and raised money to build a well. In seventh grade, we studied land and how it is changing. This year, in eighth grade, we studied the air and atmosphere around us. Just yesterday, I finished my final project, an iBook about global warming. Every student that attends this school comes to care about the Earth in his/her own way.

Adolescents care about our world because we want to change it. Everyone dreams of it, from toddlers to teens. We want to make a difference for the better. Whether our impact is on one person’s world or an entire nation, kids care about the Earth because it is our home and we hold the power amend, modify, and redesign it the way we want. We need to live here and future generations do, too, but we’re responsible for taking care of it to live naturally and in harmony with nature.

With all the talk of global warming and climate change, kids feel like the Earth is theirs to take care of, and it is. We are the Earth’s future, and if we don’t take care of it, everything we know and love could possibly be effected. Due to the fact that kids care about the planet, we have the power to change it and use our knowledge and technology to keep it safe. We know this and that’s why we care about the Earth.

Little Pickle Press music

Relish the Sweet Side of Little Pickle Press:

Songs to Savor

In addition to an ever-growing list of award-winning books, Little Pickle Press has also produced music! Related to two titles, these green-themed songs come straight from the heart, and will hopefully speak to yours. Here with lyrics and a bit of background is our own Chief Pickle, Rana DiOrio.

I remember when I had the pleasure of listening to the rough mix of Dreaming, written by Jasmine Saldate and produced by Terrance Kelley to complement our children’s picture book Sofia’s Dream by Land Wilson and illustrated by Sue Cornelison. I sat at my laptop with my earphones on and listened to it over and over again. It made me smile, sing, sway, and then later, hum. Part of the thrill of listening to this uplifting song was the realization that this is my job—listening to, critically analyzing, and critiquing beautiful music is part of my job now! I digress.

The Inspiration:
Jasmine’s inspiration for the song came from witnessing how mothers love their children and appreciating the lengths to which mothers will go to ensure that their children are safe and happy.

The Lyrics:

Verse 1

You are my home
I’ll care for you; you’re not alone

You are my friend
On me you can always depend

I would fly to the moon at night
Just to make sure everything’s alright

It makes a difference in every way
To keep dreaming

Chorus

So dream of what
The Earth would be
With the help of you and me
What we do on Earth today
Makes a difference in every way
Aiming high in all we do
Will inspire other too.

Plant a tree and hug a friend
Help a neighbor and lend a hand

Many things that we can do
To keep dreaming

Verse 2

Imagine a place
Full of beauty we all can embrace

Sharing a dream
Keeping Earth full of beautiful things

And we could fly to the moon at night
Just to make sure everything’s alright

It makes a difference in every way
To keep dreaming (Chorus)

Little Pickle Press music

Little Pickle Press has also produced an original composition for What Does It Mean To Be Green? The music and lyrics are, once again, by Jasmine Saldate; the song was produced by John Alevizakis of Little Buddha Studio.

The Inspiration: According to Jasmine, being green is something everyone should want to be! Her inspiration for the What Does It Mean To Be Green? song came from an image of a child with a super-hero cape saving the world by being green. The song flowed from that powerful image.

The Lyrics:

Green, green what does it mean?
She’s your Earth; treat her kind.
Be green, green and keep her clean.
She’s your earth; treat her kind. (Chorus)

Many things we throw away.
We could use them again in some way.
If we find a box we could be in luck.
Look dad, I turned this box into a truck!

And when you want to get somewhere,
There are ways to spare the air.
Ride a bike, or take a walk instead,
Or if you have to drive, carpool with a friend. (Chorus)

I like to splash when it rains.
Why let the water just go down the drain?
Set your pots outside and walk away.
They’ll be full in a couple of days.

See a light on when no one’s there,
Turn it off, we all should care.
Save a tree, energy, electricity;
If we all save a little then we will all be . . . (Chorus)

The Songs: By now, I’m hoping your interest is piqued. If so, please consider listening to the songs by linking here for What Does It Mean To Be Green? and here for Dreaming. And by all means, please tell us what you think about Little Pickle Press music by leaving a comment!

Water Crisis

Water Crisis: A Q&A with Matt Damon

Hey, there! Let’s start the week with a little quiz, shall we? It’s a short one, I promise.

Water:

A. is good for your kidneys and overall health.

B. covers most of the planet, but only a tiny fraction of that water is clean and drinkable.

C. can have an impact on quality of education.

D. is a vital link in the connection between life and earth.

If you suggested E., all of the above, you’re right. Water is absolutely necessary to our daily lives, and not just because we can use it to make coffee. Every part of your body relies on the water in each cell to function. While this big blue marble known as Earth is awash in water, about 97% of it is salt water. A piddling 8% of the remainder is unpolluted.

Imagine waking up knowing that you have to walk four (or more) miles to get your water for the day. You can’t go to school, because your family’s survival comes before your education. You can’t go to work, because you need those precious hours to search for water to keep your family alive. When you do finally get your hands on enough water to fill your bucket, you may not be so keen to have a drink. Contaminants and bacteria from human waste, decomposing animals, and who knows what is likely to be floating around in there.

After coming face-to-face with the water crisis, Gary White and Matt Damon founded Water.org, an initiative that will provide regular access to safe supplies of water to the nearly one billion people around the world who are currently without such access. Having surpassed their initial goal of reaching two million people with safe water and sanitation, Gary White had this to say: “Young girls are going to school, women are able to become economically productive, more children are living past their fifth birthday, and families are healthier and living with greater dignity.”

With success like that, no donation will ever be considered a drop in the bucket. Please watch the two embedded videos to see why the water crisis is a world crisis, and then take a moment to give what you can. You can help spread the word by sharing this post and by following #WaterCrisis on Twitter.

 

 

Summit County Libraries

Featured Library of the Month:

Summit County Libraries

Based in Frisco, Colorado, with branches in Silverthorne and Breckenridge, the Summit County Libraries have the perfect website tagline. The world at your fingertips.

The Summit County Libraries do indeed offer the world. First off, there’s the spectacular scenery that is one of Colorado’s claims to fame. Then there’s the library catalog itself. When you visit their website, you’ll find the Research tab, with links to tons of databases covering just about any topic that you can imagine. There’s also a companion page full of search tips for the struggling researcher.

If you’re looking to feed your passion for print, The Summit County Libraries offer up a grand buffet. The online catalog is broken down into categories, and each title has a star rating to give you a quick idea of its popularity.

Separate pages for kids and teens have the usual “here’s something to read” links, but there’s more. Homework help, fun and games, and a special page simply called “Life.” This page offers support for teens that may be dealing with difficult issues such as peer pressure, personal health, and self-esteem.

Visitors and patrons with mobility issues are encouraged to enjoy the libraries, with guest passes and mobile outreach services available. To keep up with the latest in literature, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

The next time you’re in the area, visit the Summit County Libraries and take your reading to new heights!

Earth Day Books

10 Eco-tastic Pinterest Boards: Earth Day Books

Hey, parents! Wanna give your kids the world? Put a book in their hands! Wanna give your kids a clean and healthy world? Give them a book about Earth Day.

The brain of a child is an amazing thing. They soak up everything they see and hear. Okay, maybe not the fourteenth time that you asked ‘em to take out the trash, but they do gather and store information at an amazing rate. If you want your kids to learn about important topics such as the vital connection between life and earth, now is the time.

To make the lesson easy on everybody, we’ve compiled a list of super-cool Pinterest boards that focus on Earth Day books. Pick, click, and choose from tons of mainstream and indie titles that will give your kiddos a strong grasp on going green.

  1. Earth Day—Somers Library: Aimed at younger readers, this board features easy-to-read titles with bright illustrations and familiar characters.
  2. Earth Day—Book Pal: This board steps away from the story format and offers straightforward answer books. Looking for answers to questions such as Why Should I Recycle? and Why Should I Protect Nature? You’ll find them here.
  3. Earth Day Books—Scholastic Canada: People are inspired to protect the things that they love, and this board will foster a love of animals and their vanishing habits. From plankton to polar bears, this detailed board has offerings for readers of various ages.
  4. Books: Earth DayKids Yoga Stories: This well-arranged board has books, top-ten poster-style pins, and fun activities for kids who want to learn about Earth Day.
  5. Spring Books Earth Day—REAL Reading Excites: Set up with poster-style pins, this board catalogs seed books, rainbow books, and more.
  6. Earth Day Picture Books—Rebecca Ives Eisenberg: Part inspiration, part review, this board is perfect for parents of younger readers. If you look closely at one of the pinned posters, you’ll see a very familiar cover!
  7. Earth Day Children’s Books—Natalie Longmuir: From realistic to really wild, this board showcases some beautiful hardcover children’s books about our fellow living creatures.
  8. Books for Earth Day—Lucid Publishing: Emphasizing digital and recycled-paper editions, this board turns the spotlight on instructional (but fun) conservation books.
  9. Earth Day and Environmental Awareness for Kids—Storytime Standouts: Once your kids have absorbed the lessons in the books, they can put them into practice with some really neat activities. This board offers books and craft ideas.
  10. Library List—Jenni Fischer: This board isn’t strictly about Earth Day, but it’s so totally amazing that I had to include it. Many of the pins are poster-style, with a variety of titles arranged on each. Categories include Earth Day, diversity, multiculturalism, artistic creativity, and lots of other topics that deserve to be discussed in every home.

If you’re in the mood for a bonus, PBS has a great list of Green Reads by Danielle Steinberg. Many of the titles will be familiar, and offer the message that one person truly can make a difference.

So now you’ve got a few hundred ideas. Time to shut off the computer, grab some cocoa, and curl up with the kiddos and some good books. Which one will you read first?

Three Rs

The Three Rs: Expanding on a Theme

The theme of reduce, reuse, and recycle has become a part of our collective consciousness, right up there with wi-fi and coffee. We all know about it; we all know it’s a good thing, but how many of us actually put it into practice?

Why should we put it into practice?

More than just a triad of feel-good buzzwords, the eco-friendly Three Rs are a way of life. Let’s look at reduction, for example. Do you like to breathe? Me, too. By reducing the number of trips you take in the family truckster, you can reduce your annual contribution to air pollution. I’m not saying that you should walk everywhere, but simple steps like carpooling or parking in a central location in order to accomplish several errands within walking distance can really add up.

Reuse. Anyone who grew up during the Great Depression or World War II is a past master of this trick. Outgrown clothes? Pass them down to the next kid in the family. Clothes worn out? Cut them up and use the still-good pieces to make quilts and other items. With the arrival of the Internet, inspiration is just a click away. It’s easier than ever now to seek out new ways to use old stuff, rather than wasting resources by buying another impulse item.

Recycle. It’s not just for plastic bottles anymore. Batteries, appliances, and metal of all kinds can be recycled. While crossing a bridge one day, my husband and I happened to look down into the creek. Rather than splashing fish and playful raccoons, we saw a washing machine and several tires. My husband was outraged. “Look at that. People live here for thousands of years, and all they leave are a few arrowheads. We’re here for a couple hundred, and leave a mess like this.” The recycling bug bit us hard that day, and has been hanging on ever since. With a recycling center a matter of blocks away, it wasn’t a difficult decision. Now the only hard part is reminding him to tie a sturdier knot around the old newspapers!

Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Three small changes that can add up to big differences. But wait; there’s more! A fourth, fifth, and beyond! That R can stand for Rethink, as in rethink old methods and look for better ways to serve our planet. Or maybe Refuse, as in refuse to buy items that aren’t made with sustainable ingredients or are packaged in single-use plastic. My personal favorite is Repair. Learn to mend seams and loose buttons. Teach yourself to patch and plaster and fix instead of throwing something away when it’s no longer out-of-the-box perfect.How about Restore? When you cut down a tree, plant a new one. Having a picnic? Pick up your trash and those cans that someone else left behind.

How many Rs can you come up with? How many do you live by?

Need some more ideas for applying the Rs? Download our free lesson plans!

What Does It Mean To Be Green? Lesson Plan

Sofia’s Dream Lesson Plan 

Red Balloon Bookshop

Featured Customer of the Month:

Red Balloon Bookshop

The right book can help your imagination soar like a balloon, and the Red Balloon Bookshop is the place to find that book!

Since 1984, the Red Balloon Bookshop has been serving the literary needs of patrons of all ages in the Twin Cities area. The staff has done the job so well, in fact, that the shop had to expand and move to a new location only five years after opening.

There are story times and book clubs for various age groups and tastes, including Spanish Story Time, the Chapter and Verse Book Club, and the (Not So) Young Adult Book Club. There are special events that include authors, illustrators, magicians, and music, and more cool stuff is added to the event calendar every month!

The Red Balloon Bookshop caters to educators as well, with special discounts for schools and teachers. They make sure to order extra copies of summer reading list titles in order to combat the dreaded “summer slide.” The staff even keeps a wish list on hand, allowing generous patrons to help put much-needed books into appreciative classrooms.

If you’re looking for something special, the Red Balloon Bookshop offers an “Indie Next” list, a monthly compilation of must-read titles from independent publishers. There’s even a special list just for kids!

Want to let your mind take flight? All you need is a Red Balloon …

Earth, appreciated

Earth, Appreciated: A Playlist

There are a lot of things to appreciate about our home planet. Air, for one thing. Breathing is pretty nice. Water is good, too. Without water, we can’t make coffee, and I really appreciate my coffee.

From the microscopic world to the vast oceans, the world is full of wonder, danger, and beauty. There are discoveries to be made and insights to be gained. There is also great potential for loss; climate change and population expansion are taking their toll.

In the Earth, appreciated TED talks playlist, you’ll find twelve compelling reasons to take a keen interest in the vital connection between life and earth. A wide-angle view of fragile Earth presents magnificent aerial photographs and “documents human impact on the environment.” Hidden miracles of the natural world goes beyond the visible and into the world of the microscopic.

The story of life in photographs outlines the story of life from the beginning, using a slideshow-style presentation. The world’s oldest living things details some of “the world’s oldest continuously living organisms.” Go from the oldest to the coldest when you watch Haunting photos of polar ice.

After you feast your eyes on the visual bounty, it’s time to lend your ears to some of the biggest voices in environmental science. James Hansen explains “Why I must speak out about climate change” and Paul Gilding suggests that The Earth is full. Al Gore presents New thinking on the climate crisis, while Sylvia Earle shares My wish: Protect our oceans.

John Doer urges investment in clean energy in his talk, Salvation (and profit) in greentech. The list rounds out with Alex Steffen’s The route to a sustainable future and Johan Rockstrom’s Let the environment guide our development.

Taken one by one, the twelve talks presented in Earth, appreciated are thought-provoking. Taken all together, they are a chilling reminder that the planet is not our property, but our partner. If we let that “business” fail, there are no bailouts.

Share the Earth, appreciated playlist, and start the global conversation at home with a copy of What Does It Mean To Be Global?, available in hardback and digital formats.