Posts Tagged ‘tree

We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake

Same, Same, but Different, by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

I think there is a strong connection between valuing the environment and valuing other people. Just a month ago it was big news as the world’s population reached 7 billion humans, with a prediction this number will reach 10 billion by 2050. I’m a fan of the hundreds of little acts each of us can take to help protect mother earth, but this Earth Day, I’m focusing on how caring for the environment intertwines with caring for others. Some of these others may be friends (so that is easy), but there are many more who need the same basic human rights we often take for granted (freedom of expression, housing, clean water and nutritious food, education and opportunity, safety and a secure community of support).

While it feels difficult to explain the complexities and connection of environmental protection and human rights to young children, the two books highlighted in this blog set a basis to start from. Both books contrast a North American child and family with an international counterpart. In We Planted a Tree the main voice is from Kenya with glimpses of other locations around the globe, while in Same, Same, but Different the pen pal is located in India. In both stories, even though the contrasted lives are different, they also share many similarities. The planted tree has a clear ecological impact no matter where it is planted. These stories also move through time with their illustrations, so it is shown how what we do now, has an impact on future generations.

My daughters’ ages feel like a pivotal time for helping them develop attitudes and beliefs that may stay with them for a lifetime. So we talk a lot about, for example, not wasting water and about people in many other countries not having access to clean water. Recently, we watched the Water Brothers documentary series on TVO. This was a big deal not only because it meant watching television outside of our usual weekend viewing; it gave them a bit more awareness that this issue is real and more important than just remembering to turn off the tap. With these books we also talk about how other children live. While my information about how the chocolate treats we enjoy depends on the work some children are made to do on coca plantations may have been a bit over their heads, they are starting to make a connection about how our actions including our consumption are part of a system that needs correction. The environmental and social issues that challenge us now will certainly become urgent during their lifetime. While we are lucky to live in a country with plenty, we must also understand how our awareness and action is part of our responsibility to the world both environmentally and socially.

In the coming year(s) I’m committed to helping my daughters  learn more about conscientious consumerism, sustainable diet and valuing others, no matter what their colour, religion, race or socieconomic status. These will be some important contributions toward a better and more sustainable planet for everyone.

Happy Earth Day everyone! Send us a comment on how you and your emerging reader(s) are also helping to be the change!