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"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life." Rachel Carson

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Meet Tim Magner, Part 2

We are back with more questions for author Tim Magner, about two more of his books for young readers: N IS FOR NATURE: AN ENVIRONMENTAL ALPHABET BOOK and EARL THE EARTHWORM DIGS FOR HIS LIFE.

Both of these books aim to teach kids about many of the creatures we share our planet with, even the microscopic ones burrowing right under our feet! In your opinion, why is important that kids learn how other creatures live?

Since the beginning of human history, kids played outside. As part of every normal childhood, kids had plenty of time to wander, investigate and discover. Digging in the dirt and imitating animals gives them a chance to bond with the earth around us. Toddlers can identify with animals (especially young ones) and they grow into explorers who come to understand the connections and see us as a part of nature. Sometimes it's important to remember our roots.

EARL THE EARTHWORM DIGS FOR HIS LIFE teaches us about the amazing work of worms and how we can use them to create compost from our organic waste. Is this something that even city kids can do?

Our Earl story is entertaining in and of itself, but it's also about how, in nature, waste equals food. I love visiting schools and bringing some of my worms. Many of the city kids have never felt worms and can't believe I keep 1,000-plus of them in my kitchen. Vermi-composting is a way to explain nutrient flows and cycles. I'm a big proponent of the benefits of systems thinking over linear thinking and using nature as a model to help us move past the short-term thinking of the Industrial Revolution to a better future.

Your books really encourage kids to get outside and play. What was your favorite game to play outside when you were a kid?

We lived near a golf course and my brothers and I hunted for golf balls in the creeks and ponds. We came home well after sunset, covered in mud. Mom yelled at us. We also got to spend chunks of time in Wisconsin where we played with neighborhood kids, games like kick the can and flashlight tag. Good clean fun means getting dirty.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Join in on the fun and renew your commitment to help protect our planet at an Earth Day event in your community. Visit The Earth Day Network to search for events taking place in your area.

If you'd rather stay close to home, why not pick out a green activity or find a new way to get involved?  (And get your family and friends involved, too!)

Let us know what you are doing for Earth Day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Just in time for Earth Day, we have a special interview with Tim Magner, the author and publisher at Green Sugar Press, whose books encourage kids to explore, examine and investigate the natural world around them. His book AN ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDE FROM A TO Z, provides 26 opportunities for kids to learn about the Earth they live on. From the Amazing Amazon to the Zoo, every letter explores a topic, idea or solution to better help kids comprehend and care for for the environment. Let's ask him a few questions!

What inspired you to write AN ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDE FROM A TO Z?

Patrick, one of my seventeen nephews, and now in 3rd grade, kept telling me about what he was learning in school—from the destruction of the rainforest to the struggling polar bears. He was sad. I chose to write a book about the wonders of the natural world and to encourage kids to get out and learn more about it by enjoying it.

What is you favorite letter in the book and why?

Can I have two? "L is for Lugari" is fun because I spent a couple weeks in Colombia visiting with Paolo Lugari and Gaviotas. Seeing firsthand how Lugari turned a wasteland into a new forest was over-the-top cool. I also love the "C is for Cycle" page, probably because I like conversations about how nature has no garbage dumps. When I visit classrooms I usually bring my worms and explain how they eat my left-overs and turn it into a valuable fertilizer for my plants.

Your book explores many different regions and people in the world. Why should a kid living in a city care about Mt. Kilimanjaro or the Inuit Eskimos?

Funny you should ask. Actually, I believe it's far more important they first know their backyards or nearby park than Africa or the Arctic. Learning about nature starts with the nearby and expands, so we included ideas to get out and learn more about what's around them, i.e. "Have you considered keeping a journal of your local habitat—to write about what you see, smell and hear?" 

What is the single most important idea about the environment that you wish all kids knew?

Again, just one?
I want kids to know that exploring outside is loads of fun and, chances are their parents and grandparents got to have more fun than they did because they got to play outside often.
As John Burroughs said, "Knowledge without love will not stick, but begin with love and knowledge is sure to follow." So, once kids fall in love with the earth, they'll learn that we need nature for everything in life. Better yet, nature teaches us everything we need to know—from energy flows and nutrient cycles— to create a better future. 

This is the most exciting time in the history of the world to be alive.