7-12, Books, Children, YA (Young Adult)

Books for the Budding Environmentalist

I have spent the last month or so trying to decide how best to structure the blog going forward.  I have always known that I wanted to post Mon/Wed/Fri but I wasn’t sure what to do to help stream line my content.

I work best in some sort of structure and I think that what I will be doing moving forward is making each day have a theme.  Friday’s theme will focus on Young Readers.  This is a wide theme, it could include Middle grade book reviews, lists of content that best suits the young reader genre, or anything that for children who have learned to read on their own and are expected to do so for school.

Starting it off this month I wanted to talk a bit about some middlegrade books that I recommend for parents who want their kids to be ecologically conscious.

Some folks may have heard of this one, but I was surprised to find that Carl Hiaasen is not as well known.  I read this one when I was a child (and if you need some quality early 2000s film then the movie adaptation is pretty great as well) but all of Hiaasen’s books have some element of animal activism.  This one involves a group of kids who are attempting to save endangered owls from losing their habitat when a popular breakfast joint wants to expand and build a parking lot.  It discusses why it is important to protect animal rights and the “evils” of big business … a.k.a. greed.  I really enjoyed the book and there are a number that he has written so if this particular plot doesn’t work then just looking at his back catalog is definitely worth while.

If you have a more mature tween or a teen who is interested in environmental post apocalypse situations then this one is definitely worth a look.  There is a bit of high tension between humans and some violence so I would definitely reserve it for the older kids but it is still a great look at the issues that fossil fuels have on our water.  The story follows one girl in a world where all of the water has become poisoned and humans are fighting to survive as their crops are destroyed and the drinkable water is difficult to find and controlled by a few very powerful individuals.  The protagonist was lucky enough to have a safe place to hole up but there are strangers moving toward her and she fears what that might mean.

This is another older book so it may difficult to find in main stream stores but it was one that I really enjoyed.  The protagonist of this story volunteers his time at a veterinarian’s who takes in birds of prey injured by the wildfires that have been threatening the local forests.  It involves discussions on the forestry industry, community service with animals, and the tension between business and nature in a rural Montana community.  If you can get your hands on a used copy then it is definitely a worthwhile book for animal lovers, prospective vets, or folks who want to learn more about the dangers of forest fires to natural habitats.

If your kid is interested in renewable resources and the depletion of fossil fuels then this dystopia might be one that they enjoy.  It takes place just ten years in the future when all oil and gas has been used up.  It follows how the world copes with the sudden loss of energy in a not so great way.   It is another one that has more interpersonal violence and would be better for more mature young readers and teens but is worth a read for anyone looking for a more realistic dystopia, no offense to The Hunger Games.  There is also an element of climate change and extreme weather caused by the over use of fossil fuels so it would also be good to look at if you wanted to discuss more sustainable practices in the home environment.

This last one is definitely the oldest book on this list (being younger than I am but not by much) but it is one for any kids who prefer mysteries to science fiction.  This particular Joe Bass Adventure revolves around an old boat maker whose daughter was found drowned after raising awareness of the dangers of DDT being sprayed on the crops in her area.  This would be a good choice to discuss the use of chemicals and pesticides which has greatly fallen to the way side.  If you want to discuss why organic food is healthier or why it is important to always wash your fruits and vegetables the environmental aspect of this.  It is also good to discuss the danger that comes with being the face of a movement.

This was definitely an interesting collection to pull together.  If you guys have any other good suggestions for books that discuss issues with the environment for young readers I would love to hear your suggestions.  There were a fair number of young adult books but finding some that were appropriate for younger readers was a bit difficult.  I don’t think I was as interested into them when I was that age, I was definitely more of a fantasy reader though so that isn’t super surprising.

If you have any suggestions for collections I should pull together in the future or books I should check out then also feel free to pass it along.

3-6, 5-7, 7-12, Books, Children

5 Halloween Craft and STEM Books for Kids!

I really want to talk about some great books that include all sorts of crafts, activities, and science experiments and what better time than just before Halloween.  If I could get my hands on all of these and had all the time in the world, you know that I would be making all sorts of crazy crafts, interesting meals, and just all out fun science.

So Harry Potter in itself is not necessarily very spooky.  It may contain witches and wizards but unless your fear is existential (which tbh everyone’s is from time to time) then it isn’t your first thought for Halloween … or maybe it is.  In any case, this guy is a great cookbook if you want to cook up some witchey treats for a Halloween party, or just to pack into lunch boxes throughout the upcoming week.  Plus, its fun to do with the kids themselves.  They can get dressed up and pretend they are playing with some sort of gross experiment foods.  All around good time for everyone involved.  If you love HP then you should check out some of the other books with crafts or some hard core science based on the HP world.

As a quick transition, I want to put out a good kit if you have a science oriented kid without wasting all of the ingredients.  Science experiments you can eat is a great book for a parent who wants to let their kids explore scientific theories but doesn’t want to throw out half of their pantry every other day.  Dress up as a zombie chef who wants to elevate the flavor profile of the zombie hordes and throw some chemistry knowledge down.  You might learn a thing or two as well (like how to make mayonnaise from scratch).

Along the same lines here is a great book with every day science experiments that are easy and fun to do.  Rather than being food oriented these are more of your traditional learning experiences.  Make some goop, learn about electricity, or throw together some chemical reactions while having fun and making a mess.  This is a great book for some mad scientist parties.  I remember doing experiments like this in elementary school and even in high school the flashiest chemistry experiments were the best.  You learn the most when you are having fun, mad fun.

If your kid is less interested in science but you still want to make things together this is a great option for crafting.  Help them decorate the house with spooky ghosts, or make gifts for their friends to bring to school!  I was definitely a crafty, artsy kid and I would have loved making these cute little nick-knacks.  Plus, it is free.  If you really like what is in here then pinterest is a great resource where parents and teachers alike bring you some of their favorite spooky crafts.

Now I admit that the last one is not as Halloween themed as the rest.  I just really recommend this book.  The autumn is a time to enjoy the last remaining bits of temperate weather before playing outside becomes miserable.  This book has a lot of really great learning tips and fun ideas for parents who want to take advantage of that.  It has tips for all seasons and while some seem pretty straight forward, sometimes just having a list of the options in front of you is a great way to jump start some fun.  Go on a ghost hunt outside and learn about hibernation, the leaves changing colors, migration and countless other natural phenomena specific to this time of year.  Then read up on great experiences that you yourself might want to take part in before you grow up.