A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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All Things Green and a Book Giveaway

Posted by lindamartinandersen on February 11, 2013

“All Things Green and a Book Giveaway” by Linda Martin Andersen

“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

National Green Week is February 11-17. 

To celebrate, Bonnie Doerr has agreed to be our guest blogger.  Bonnie writes tween fiction and has two books with characters who care for our world and “all things green.”

Join me in providing a warm welcome for Bonnie Doerr.


Linda, I’m super happy to help celebrate National Green Week with you. Isn’t it wonderful how many young people are beginning to care about the health of our beautiful Earth? Much credit must be given to their teachers for organizing activities to promote going green and to their parents for setting good examples.

Importance of “green” in my writing:

Though I hadn’t considered this before, I realize that this oversimplified term green is the basis for most of my work. To me, being green begins with a deep respect, reverence, and appreciation for the natural world. These qualities fuel a passion to protect our environment and are reflected in my writing. If I were not closely surrounded by trees, plants, wildlife, and open sky, I would feel incomplete— mentally and emotionally unhealthy. It would be difficult for me to function. It’s likely I wouldn’t be writing at all if I couldn’t interact daily with the natural world.

As a child, I…

was awestruck by nature in all its manifestations—animal, vegetable, mineral—long before I had the tiniest clue that my life was somehow connected to nature, in fact, dependent upon it.

My tween adventure/mystery novels, Island Sting and StakeOut…

feature endangered species struggling to survive in a sensitive environment. In the course of protecting these creatures, the teen characters learn about the many human behaviors that both directly and indirectly threaten animal survival. The teens’ experiences lead them to becoming environmental stewards.

For example, in StakeOut, Kenzie rescues a sea turtle that is choking on a grocery bag. This incident inspires her crusade against the use of plastic bags. Though Kenzie begins this campaign in order to save sea turtles, reducing the production of petroleum based plastics has a far reaching effect on the overall health of our planet. There is a connection between the survival of one creature, the health of its habitat, and the survival of the human race. Kenzie’s experience is a perfect example of how living green begins with an appreciation of the natural world.

Sadly, there are many children who live what Dr. Jane Clark (University of Maryland) calls a “containerized” life…

a life spent mostly within walls. How can these children experience nature? Can we expect nature-deprived children to care much about something with which they are unfamiliar? How then will they ever connect environmental health with their own well-being?

Could a virtual outdoor experience help make this connection?

Reading outdoor adventures or mysteries may provide the taste of a genuine experience. A taste that could crack those restrictive walls allowing a glimmer of natural light to leak in and spark interest in the world outside. Even if this outside world stretched no farther than a backyard habitat, a vacant lot, or a community park, it would be a start toward valuing nature.

Picture books with ecological themes abound. But often older readers aren’t introduced to such fiction. Tweens in particular are at a critical age where values are being formed. Reading action-packed stories with environmental themes impacts readers subtly. When readers care about the characters in books, they will cheer for the hero’s success. Literary environmental heroes can inspire real world action. I know this for a fact. I’ve heard from an Island Sting reader who was inspired to become a park ranger and a StakeOut reader who raised funds to support a sea turtle hospital. I learned another reader formed an environmental club at school.

There are many fun environmentally inspired reads for tweens and teens.

Books by Jeanne Craighead George remain popular. I recommend anything by Ginny Rorby and all of Carl Hiaasen’s children’s books. Other great reads are Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French and Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things, by Wendelin Van Draanen.

An excellent resource for ecologically themed books is the Green Earth Award list:

http://www.newtonmarascofoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Full-List-of-GEBA-Winners-2011.pdf. I’m proud that StakeOut was a finalist for this award in 2012.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of children spending time outdoors if they are to become genuinely invested in living a green life. For an in depth discussion of this critical relationship between children and nature refer to Richard Louv’s well-researched Last Child in the Woods, Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Now, Linda, on to your second request.

How can students live a more sustainable lifestyle?

Because I write for tweens and young teens, my suggestions target this age group, though younger children can adapt many of these ideas for their use or encourage their family to do so.

The best thing anyone can do to protect the environment is to set a good example.

Be strong enough to ignore anyone who thinks it’s cool to toss trash out of a car window. Something as small as a piece of discarded chewing gum means death to animals that swallow it. Food may be biodegradable, but if tossed out the window, it draws hungry small animals. These critters attract predators. Then the predators are often struck by cars. Remember that old saying “Stash your trash.” It’s easy to carry a litter container in the car and empty it in a container outside any retail establishment.

Use fun fabric bags for all shopping instead of accepting plastic bags to carry purchases. Plastic bags often blow out of trash containers and garbage trucks, creating ecological havoc. Reducing garbage roadside not only makes for a more pleasant visual environment (hopefully contributing to neighborhood pride) but also protects wildlife and prevents the blockage of storm drains. You wouldn’t believe the amount of trash we clear off our bridge after high water. Most of it is washed from roadsides during heavy rains. Not only do cups, bottles, and bags pose a danger to wildlife, but chemicals in waste pollute our water.

It costs nothing to simply to pick up a few pieces of litter each day, whether you dropped them or not, and put them in a trash container. Make a green pledge to leave a place better than you found it.

It’s free and can be a fun social experience to join an environmental group online or in person. Check out http://www.teensturninggreen.org/ .

Teens can reduce their carbon footprint with creative takes on fashion.

Instead of buying new clothes that travel thousands of miles using scads of energy, teens can hold fashion swap parties. Partiers brings clothes they’re tired of, trade or combine separates into new looks or alter pieces in creative ways. A fashion show makes a grand finale.

But what would life be like without a new outfit once in a while? When buying a mood booster, choose an outfit that doesn’t require dry cleaning. Not only is taking clothes to the cleaners a hassle, but it’s expensive. If dry cleaning is an absolute must (not only is dry cleaning not really *dry*, but it often isn’t needed even though the label says so), try to find a shop that uses greener methods (wet-cleaning or liquid CO2) to reduce its toxic load. Check out http://www.nodryclean.com/ to find a green cleaner near you.

For more information on green cleaning visit this site: http://ecohearth.com/eco-zine/home-and-renovation/973-green-dry-cleaning-find-green-dry-cleaner.html

Teens can support companies like Patagonia. Patagonia helps reduce the load on our planet by collecting worn-out clothes and rebuilding them into new garments. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_34/b3998431.htm

Why not become a smart label shopper? By reducing your use of petroleum cosmetic products, you can help reduce the effects of climate change.  Petroleum (in the form of paraffin oil, propylene glycol, and ethylene) is found in products like lip balm, lotions, lubricants, and many plastic covered products.  Choose products containing beeswax, cocoa butter, and vegetable oils instead. Visit http://greenbeautyteam.com/answers-advice/teens-tweens-sprouts/tween-beauty-queen-party/ for ideas on holding a green-tween-beauty-queen party

Packing a waste free lunch is an easy way to help the planet. A typical American student can generate 67 pounds of school lunch packaging waste per school year. Wash and reuse all containers. When possible, stay away from any throwaway containers. http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/wastefree.htm

Students can also do what Kenzie and her friends are planning in my work in progress. They are encouraging their school cafeteria to go green. Here is a resource for ideas: http://www.ehow.com/how_6554419_go-green-school_s-cafeteria.html

The hardest part of becoming a better environmental steward is establishing new habits.

Any time you remember to engage in a green habit, no matter how insignificant you think it is, it sets a positive example and takes you another step closer to mastering the habit.

Linda, thanks for inviting me to join you here at A Writers’ Playground. It’s been fun to be a part of your mission.

Check out how to order Bonnie Doerr’s books here:

Island sting new cover small                                small Stakeout_cover_web2

Educators can order Island Sting and StakeOut from Follett and most other distributors. Both books are available on Amazon in traditional and Kindle formats. Island Sting: http://amzn.to/WsYmTc  and StakeOut: http://amzn.to/11ZgXNw. To learn more about Bonnie visit www.BonnieDoerrBooks.com. A click on the Teacher Page button will take you to activities and links to lesson plans for a variety of disciplines.

Bonnie, thanks so much for being our guest blogger!  If you would like to ask Bonnie questions or make comments, please do.  Those who leave comments before midnight on February 17, 2013 will be included in a drawing for a copy of Island Sting.  Please include your email for contact purposes.  The winner will be announced on February 18 and the prize will be mailed on March 1 or shortly there after.

Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.”  Come again soon.  Bring a friend.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

30 Responses to “All Things Green and a Book Giveaway”

  1. Maureen Wartski said

    We just returned from a cruise in the warm Caribbean… The ship insisted out was .echo friendly’.
    Timely post, Linda… I wonder if
    “Yuris brush with Magic” could be considered a “green” book. I am writing on my tablet… Which can be erratic!
    Forgive the typos.

    • Maureen,

      I’m so glad you had a chance to enjoy warm Caribbean weather on a “green” cruise line.
      Yuri’s Brush With Magic does take a stand for protecting sea turtles; so I vote “yes” it’s green. It’s a book which satisfies many interests. I especially love its Japanese influence. Thank you for adding to the “green” comments. I’m glad you’re back home. You bring life to anywhere you go.

    • Ooo, I love hearing about another sea turtle book. Thank you, Maureen!

  2. June said

    Dear Bonnie,Thank you for sharing with us about the need to go ‘green’.Children need to learn about going ‘green and nothing can teach them better than having them learn it from a book. You gave me an idea for another book.

    Linda, thank you for having,Bonnie blog. What Bonnie had to say was very inlighting.

  3. Susan Williams said

    I really applaud your writings and your efforts to inform tweens and teens about the things we can do to avoid harming the animals in the environment. My husband and I once saw a gull at the beach who had a plastic six-pack holder around its neck. It had “grown” into the gull’s neck, so I am afraid the gull eventually suffered a long starvation death. I cut up all these holders before putting them in the garbage.

    Most people want to do the “green” thing if they are educated about issues first-hand or through reading. Thanks for all you’re doing.

    • Susan,
      How sad to see an animal disfigured and tortured by a human product that was carelessly discarded. I agree that most people do want to do the “green” thing. Education is the key. Recreational reading that targets “green living” can help provide that key.

      Thanks so much for commenting. You always add depth to the conversations.

    • Hi Susan,
      I’m so glad you cut up those nasty six pack ring. Thanks to reminders from Kenzie, Angelo, and their friends in StakeOut, I’m trying to carry my fabric bags everywhere I shop. Can’t count the ways I hate those plastic shopping bags that fly in the wind and wind up in trees and waterways, causing all kinds of problems for animals.

  4. Starting young children with “container gardening” isn’t ideal, but it’s a good start, especially for children in apartments. One friend’s grandchildren lined all their window ledges with dixie cups with seeds, and watching them grow got them excited an on the right track.
    Good post!

  5. Hi Linda & Bonnie,
    Been swamped with work this week. Now I’m here. Bonnie, what a wonderful idea you had for your book. This is a great way to inform children that they can take part and make a difference.
    And Linda, you’ve provided outstanding links, again! 🙂

    • Thank you for the kind words, Tracy. Among my readers, I’ve heard from one who decided to become a park ranger, one who organized an environmental club at school, one plans to become a marine biologist, and another who is raising money to help support a turtle hospital. Apparently you’re right. They’ve been inspired!

  6. Hi Tracy,
    I’m so glad you’re finally beyond the swamp. 😉 Thanks for taking time to join us. Bonnie’s a great one to lead through her stories. I have to give credit Bonnie for the links too. She did it all.

  7. Yay, Bonnie!

  8. Joan Y. Edwards said

    Dear Linda and Bonnie,
    Thanks for sharing Bonnie’s ideas for a greener earth.
    Thanks, Bonnie, for all you do to remind us of the importance of making a greener earth a priority.

    Celebrate you.
    Never Give up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  9. Linda, it was a treat to read your readers’ comments. I do hope there was a tidbit or two of useful info for them. Thanks again for inviting me to the playground.

  10. Carla Reeck said

    Always love to see new material for a child audience for Eco-friendly living. Thank you!!

  11. […] All Things Green and a Book Giveaway (lindamartinandersen.wordpress.com) […]

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