By Ronnie Citron-Fink, Moms Clean Air Force
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.
1. Roxana loves reading to her 5 year old daughter. She especially enjoys one book from the popular Magic School Bus series, The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up. With the help of the EPA to promote the Clean School Bus program, the book 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. Marcia interviewed children’s book author Dr. Barrett Haysabout his book, Mars, Jimmy, and Me. She writes, “the book combines humor, whimsy, and science to jumpstart an examination of pollution, economic justice, and individual responsibility.” In Marcia’s interview, Dr. Hays states, “We have real environmental issues…Global warming, the use of plastic, the need to talk about clean air and the connection to the rise in asthma.”
3. In my post, The Clean Air Act Protects Your School Child, I’m worried about the “house” in the sweet picture poem book,A House Is A House For Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman. “A hill is a house for an ant, an ant. A hive is a house for a bee. A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse. And a house is a house for me!” 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 Roxana enjoys reading to her daughter is, I Know the River Loves Me, which 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. I describe the situation here: “The Once-ler devised devious ways of cutting down Truffula trees for the “biggering and biggering” of his manufacturing operation. The smogulous smoke that spewed into the air from his Thneed factory made the Lorax “cough, whiff, sneeze, snuffle, snarggle, sniffle, and croak.” The beautiful Swomee swans were no longer able to sing, so the Lorax sends the birds away to find cleaner air. The Once-ler “biggered” to the point where he poisoned the Lorax’s eco-lovin’ life with polluted water, polluted air, and left him in a sunless panorama of Truffula stumps. Poor Lorax.”
Katy adds, “When he (Dr. Seuss) wrote the Lorax back in 1971, he probably thought that we’d have things figured out by now.”
Once-ler! He cried with a cruffulous croak.
Once-ler! Your’re making such a smogulous smoke
My poor Swomee-Swans…why, they can’t sing a note
No one can sing who has smog in his throat.
Dominique sums it up: “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.”
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.” ~ Dr. Seuss