Inspiring Children to Care
Guest Post by Julie Vosburgh Agnone,
author of AMAZING RIVERS
Most people live not far from a river, yet many of us seldom think much about them. My primary goal was for Amazing Rivers to enrich understanding and inspire young readers to see rivers from a fresh perspective and, ultimately, care deeply about these important waterways.
Using examples that kids can relate to, I aimed to establish how rivers are so much more than random physical features that crisscross our planet’s surface. Throughoutthe book we explain—and show through Kerry Hyndman’s gorgeous illustrations—the unique attributes of rivers and the many ways they are essential to sustaining life on Earth.
Knowing that children love nature and care passionately about their planet, I included two spreads that specifically address threats to rivers, such as pollution, climate change, overuse, and introduced species. But waterways everywhere are facing countless challenges, so I felt it necessary to establish an environmental thread that runs throughout the book. At the same time kids discover what’s awesome about rivers, they’re also reminded of threats to these precious resources.
As readers recognize that rivers provide essential food, recreation, transportation, and habitats for plants and animals, they can begin to see connections to their own lives. For example, the Colorado River is drying up, and 40 million people in the western U.S. rely on it. Some environmental damage is the result of natural events like droughts and floods, while others are directly caused by humans damming, draining, and polluting rivers.
Kids often feel powerless to do anything to save the environment. The first step to empowerment is knowledge. The next is making small changes that add up, like conserving water and cleaning up litter. Without being preachy, I remind readers that fresh water is a necessity that we may take for granted, but that being aware of our actions is a good start. And it’s encouraging for readers to learn that many of the rivers featured are being protected and restored.
In some cultures, rivers are sacred. The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, believe their ancestors live on in the natural world. They have a saying that begins: “I am the river, and the river is me.” In 2017 they finally got their sacred Whanganui River granted the legal rights of a person. I believe that the Maori idea of regarding a river as a living being that deserves protection may help people think twice about disrespecting it. And I hope that anecdote will make kids care about rivers in ways they’ve never imagined.
AMAZING RIVERS by Julie Vosburgh Agnone, illustrated by Kerry Hyndman is out now in hardback (£14.99, What on Earth Books)
Find out more at whatonearthbooks.com
Amazing Rivers is a captivating non-fiction book bursting with details about over one hundred waterways from around the world. Each river has been chosen because it exemplifies something fascinating, surprising or awesome.
On every colourful page, Julie Vosburgh focuses on the environmental issues surrounding rivers. Pollution, protection and clean-up are addressed in a child-friendly manner that helps young readers to understand the impact of human actions and our responsibility to look after these important waterways. Children will come away from this book knowing that rivers are an important lifeline for humans and wildlife – that we couldn’t exist without them.
Overflowing with facts, Amazing Rivers is perfect for every Key Stage Two classroom. I wish it had been around when I was teaching our Year 5 Rivers topic – an entire unit could be based on this book. Covering the basics of “What is a river?” and the course of a river as well as their impact on wildlife and civilisation, this book has everything needed for comprehensive study. Featured rivers allow children to make comparisons, research, and explore aspects such as the folklore of rivers, transportation use, religious significance, historical importance and ecological impact.
Kerry Hyndman’s illustrations are engaging and provide important insight into the facts being shared. There is so much to see on every page!
Thank you to What on Earth Books & Laura Smythe PR for this fantastic book!
Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.