Numerous studies inform us that reading to our children stimulates their imaginations, expands vocabulary, develops analytical and logical thinking, strengthens the parent/child bond, increases attention span, creates a love of reading…and it’s a fun and loving thing to do together.
But we don’t need a study telling us knowledge is power. We know this every time we snuggle up with our child to read a book and they turn to us and ask, WHY.
Our children will inherit this planet, with all its troubles and all its beauty. Providing them with age-appropriate information about pollution gives our children a powerful edge for the future. Where can all that power come from? Books.
Here are 5 books that are a breath of fresh air, that teach us timeless lessons about loving the world we live in and the importance of protecting it.
1. One of the books included in the popular Magic School Bus series, "The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up", illustrates how particulate matter from the old Magic School Bus’ diesel exhaust gets into the lungs. The book includes a clean air checklist with important tips like, “ask your bus driver to turn off the engine when the bus is parked.”
2. Children’s book author Dr. Barrett Hays created "Mars, Jimmy, and Me." This book combines humor, whimsy, and science to jumpstart an examination of pollution, economic justice, and individual responsibility. It tackles real environmental issues such as global warming, the use of plastic and the need to talk about clean air and it's connection to the rise of asthma in children, in a way that is easily grasped by readers if all ages.
3. A lovely picture poem book entitled "A House Is A House For Me" by Mary Ann Hoberman. The poem culminates with a clear message to protect our planet, “Each creature that’s known has a house of its own. And the Earth is a house for us all.”
4. Another book called "I Know the River Loves Me" tells the story of a little girl and her special relationship with a river. Written and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez, this bilingual book is the perfect way to talk to children about the beauty of nature and why it’s important to preserve it.
5. No children’s bookshelf would be complete without Dr. Seuss’ iconic cautionary classic, The Lorax. The Lorax is profoundly upsetting and leaves the parent reading to the child to explain what that mysterious and ominous UNLESS means. While that does provide a terrific starting point for conversations about how pollution threatens the world we live in, it also makes for guilty throat clearing.
After all, the children have done nothing wrong and can do nothing to fix the problem. It is the grownups who are making this enormous mess. Unless, it turns out, is a message for parents. Unless we stop. Unless we teach our children to cherish the planet — by cherishing it ourselves.