I am happy to continue the Kid Lit Love series featuring new release children’s books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book, recently released in February of this year, is Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids by Rowena Rae. It is published by Chicago Review Press.
What makes this post extra special for me is that Rowena Rae is part of our Vancouver Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators group and it is so thrilling to share her success… AND because I am a teacher of preschool who loves to take children outdoors, this book will be practical for me personally as I will be able to use the activities and biography of Rachel Carson as a teaching tool.
Rachel Carson was an American biologist, conservationist, science and nature writer, and catalyst of the modern environmental movement. She studied biology in college at a time when few women entered the sciences, and then worked as a biologist and information specialist for the U.S. government and wrote about the natural world for many publications. Carson is best remembered for her book Silent Spring, which exposed the widespread misuse of chemical pesticides in the United States and sparked both praise and fury.
Carson’s personal life and scientific career were rooted in the study of nature. Using examples from Carson’s life and works, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids introduces readers to ecology concepts such as the components of ecosystems, adaptations by living things, energy cycles, food chains and food webs, and the balance of ecosystems. This lively biography includes a time line, resources, sidebars, and 21 hands-on activities that are sure to inspire the next generation of scientists, thinkers, leaders, agricultural producers, environmental activists, and world citizens. Kids will:
- Collect a seed bank of local plant species
- Chart bird migration through their region
- Make birdseed cookies
- Model bioaccumulation and biomagnification
- Build a worm farm
- And more!
1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t start writing for children until I had my own children and read out loud to them. I loved the picture book format and began jotting down ideas. I also enrolled in local children’s writing classes and online classes, and I heard about Highlights Foundation, in Pennsylvania, which holds workshops for children’s authors and illustrators. In 2013, I took their nature writing and science writing workshops and, two years later, their middle grade nonfiction workshop. That’s when I realized that my writing voice was older than picture books. I became hooked on writing about science and nature for middle grade readers!
2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
In 2015, I met Amy O’Quinn (at Highlights). She was writing a book about Marie Curie for Chicago Review Press (Marie Curie for Kids), and when the book came out, I bought and read it. I loved learning about Curie’s personal and work life, and the book design and photographs were gorgeous. I told Amy how much I’d like to write a book for the same series, and she encouraged me to submit a proposal to the publisher. But who would I propose writing about?
I didn’t have to think for long. I had discovered Rachel Carson’s books when I was studying biology at university. Her descriptions of sea life and other organisms captivated me. Later, I went to Johns Hopkins University (where Carson had studied biology) to do an MA in science writing and rediscovered Carson’s books, this time appreciating her lyrical writing style. So when I was thinking about who to write a biography of, it seemed obvious: I should write about a woman who had been both a biologist and an author. The fact that Carson also has a fascinating life story kept me enthralled throughout the many months I spent researching and writing my book, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids.
3. Please share a resource for children’s writers.
Everyone approaches things differently, but what’s worked for me has been to take classes and workshops (in-person, online, self-directed), to read books and other resources (mentor texts, books on craft, blogs, etc.), to connect with other children’s writers (both published and aspiring), and especially, to write as much and as often as I can.
Right now, during the rather strange time we’re living through with the COVID-19 pandemic, Highlights Foundation is offering a series of free craft webinars. (I know I keep mentioning Highlights in my responses. No, I’m not on their staff! Yes, I’m a huge fan of their workshops and the inspirational setting where they hold their in-person workshops in rural Pennsylvania.)
- -website link www.rowenarae.com
- -twitter link @rowena_rae
- -instagram link rowena.rae
Rowena is having a productive year with three more books soon to be released! Look out for these titles:
- Meg and Greg: A Duck in a Sock (April 14; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, first in a series);
- Chemical World: Science in Our Daily Lives (May 12; nonfiction for ages 9-12); and
- Meg and Greg: Frank and the Skunk (August 18; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, second in the series).
Thank you for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!
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3 thoughts on “Kid Lit Love: Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids”
Many thanks for this! I was 13 in 1963 when Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ was released in serial form in a brand new magazine in the UK – ‘Animals: The Amand Denis Magazine’. It was hard for me to pay two shillings a week for the magazine, but I just had to in order to read the next installment. While I had always been interested in nature, Rachel’s book was certainly influential in developing my passion for biology and natural history.
I eventually became a biology teacher, nature reserve manager, and natural history curator in a museum. Though I’ve more recently had a ‘book arts’ business in Australia focussing on calligraphy and book structures, most of my decorative capitals and borders include flowers, birds, and bugs, and my books all contain a biological element.
Peter, thank you so much for sharing how you connect to this book. Rachel Carson is inspiring and I am certain her work will continue to inspire others in the field of biology.
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