Friday, July 30, 2010

Fostering a Kinship with Nature

The Water Hole by Graeme Base is a great way to bring awareness to youngest children about other animals around the globe, their habitats and common needs. I believe that one of the great gifts we can give young people is an appreciation of nature. If we encourage them to explore the natural world with a sense of adventure and also with the sense of peace and tranquility to be found in nature, they will likely become willing to do what they can to take care of their planet.

I don’t believe it’s fair to fill their minds with tales of global warming or disappearing species when there’s so little they can do to help at this age. But if they begin to identify animals, put a name to them, and match them to their natural habitats, they will start to develop an awareness of the other creatures and plants with which they share this glorious planet.

When Jerry Pinkney gave his acceptance speech last month for the 2010 Caldecott Medal for his book The Lion and the Mouse, he said that as a child visiting the zoo in the 1940s, he was troubled by the “dark, musty structures” that held the big cats, pacing their cages with blank stares. His artwork reflects a lifelong love and close study of nature, a passion that he shares with the young readers who open his books and the adults who visit the museums where his fine art is on display.

As children count the animals or pick out the comical frogs on the pages of The Water Hole, and search for the animals hidden in the shadows and tree branches, they will continue to get familiar and comfortable with these creatures. They'll start to recognize the animals the next time they see them in photographs, films, or at the zoo, and may well begin to feel a sense of kinship with them.

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