By Janet Wilson
Published by Second Story Press
Recently shortlisted for the Science in Society Book Awards, Our Earth is a heartfelt glimpse of young environmental activists who are initiating change in their communities.
Wilson profiles ten preteens and teens, and each environmentalist is featured in their own double-page spread, with an absolutely beautiful painting on the left side and a photograph on the right. The pages include a quote, factual information about their cause and a related website. These young environmentalists, such as William Kamkwamba of Malawi, who brought electricity to his village by constructing a windmill from spare parts, and Janine Licare of Costa Rica, who co-founded Kids Saving the Rainforest, are taking action with initiatives such as raising awareness about polar bear extinction, preventing dolphins from being snagged in tuna nets, as well as encouraging public transit and pesticide-free golf courses.
Formatted in a similar style to Janet’s award-winning book One Peace: True Stories of Young Activists, Our Earth would best suit a grade four to six classroom. While there are a number of suggestions to encourage readers to take better care of the environment, Our Earth is less of a guidebook for changing the world than a series of portraits of young people who are making a difference to our planet. In an Intermediate classroom, it would be excellent to take two weeks and begin each day by reading about one young environmentalist as a class. On the tenth day, break your classroom into groups of three and assign each group an activist to research further. If you had each group present their findings, the entire class would gain more information about environmental awareness and the power of young people. With luck, maybe it could even inspire your students to initiate projects of their own!