BY Dana Schroeder (Peer Educator Program), Emily Hughes (Hoosier to Hoosier Sale Coordinator), and Meghan Ploch (Rain Garden Development)
In the midst of a busy semester filled with reports, presentations and research, it’s difficult to find time to read for fun. Now that summer is here, we can afford time for personal reading. Although letting your mind escape into an enchanting, far away world is tempting, we encourage you to read not just for pleasure but to expand your mind on new subject matter. Check out these books:
A River and Its City : The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans – By Ari Kelman
The promise of lucrative profits from river trade made the banks of the Mississippi River at the Gulf of Mexico an appealing place to establish a port city, but the marshy low-lying lands proved difficult to settle.
Ari Kelman follows the residents of New Orleans through history as they build levees, drain wetlands and cut navigation channels in an effort to make their surroundings more hospitable and profitable. Kelman’s reflections on how environmental and cultural forces have intertwined to shape New Orleans provide a fascinating way to think about how cities are embedded in environmental systems and processes. By tracing the progression of commercial and developmental endeavors that have left the city more instead of less vulnerable to destructive environmental forces – A River and Its City illustrates the urgent necessity to build or rebuild cities that adapt to, rather than fight against the surrounding environments.
There’s a Hair in my Dirt! – By Gary Larson
Most of the books that I have currently read are textbook or research articles. Nothing that you would want to toss in a beach bag and read while at the pool. There was one book that did stand out in my mind. Required for class, There’s a Hair in my Dirt” was an exceptional, humorous, and reflective read. The story, presents a depiction of the world and life through the eyes of an earthworm.
Junior, a young earthworm, is shocked to see a hair in his plate of dirt and, already upset about being a worm, lashed out at his family. His father proceeds to tell his son a tale to calm his son and allow him to find peace in his place on the food chain. The book sparks the readers to look events from different perspectives. The fable revolves around a maiden, Harriet, and different events that take place during her stroll through the woods. Many of Harriet’s conclusions of nature are misguided as the worm family discusses her naïve understanding of biology and ecology. For example, she condemns a forest fire as something ugly and undesirable, even though they play a vital role in the renewal of forest ecosystems.
The story does not end with an expected happy ending (I won’t spoil it for you). Although an unfortunate ending due to Harriet’s ignorance this story allows kids of all ages to appreciate the connections and relationships between nature. Through Harriet’s misguided adventures, we learn that it is not simply enough to love nature.
This book fosters an appreciation for the natural world while teaching them to understand and respect the laws of nature. I encourage you to check this book out from your local library. No time or access? Here is a useful link that reads the book for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2kl6y17XS8
Last Child in the Woods – By Richard Louv
In our increasingly plugged-in global society, one trend is becoming apparent: children are not playing and learning in the outdoors as much as they once did. “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv tells a story of the ramifications of such a trend. Even before reading, most might anticipate a link to declining environmental awareness, but Louv digs much deeper than just this primary effect. As readers enjoy this entertaining and thought-provoking work of nonfiction, they begin to see connections to increasing rates of obesity and depression in children and adults, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) prevalence, the suburbanization of America, and more.
Even though kids today may learn plenty about our earth and its systems, or even enjoy occasional field trips to parks and natural history museums, “Last Child in the Woods” makes a convincing case for more. To foster planetary guardians in the next generation, we must return to a focus on place-based nature play and immersive environmental education. This book is highly recommended for readers interested in environmental stewardship, education reform, recreation and leisure studies, or anyone who may become a future parent in this ever-changing world.