In the Earth-lover’s Library…

Ensuring that our Earth will be cared for in the future means that we are charged with raising the next generation to be conscientious keepers of our earth. Try surrounding the youngsters in your life with fun earth-centered activities and stories and watch them become devoted tree-huggers; and, hey,you might just find yourself having a good time as well!

Check out some of my top resources to help create a generation of Earth-loving Tree-Huggers!

Story Books:

What can I say? I am a sucker for a picture book about loving our planet, so there is no way that I could choose just ONE book! So here are my top five “green” books for kids:

The Lorax By Dr. Seuss:

The Doctor is in! This is the ultimate Earth-Day classic and reaches across generations. And, don’t forget, there is a TV version of this as well.

The Earth Book by Todd Parr

If you look at my last series of favorite books for kids, you’ll see that I have already sung my praises for Todd Parr. I have a serious soft spot for this author who can speak to kids of all ages through his simple, loving wording and his adorable illustrations. Plus, this book contains a special surprise; a pull-out poster of reminders of the things that we can do to help our planet every day. You may just find yourself putting YOUR underwear in the freezer this summer!

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

This book tells an inspiring and charming story about a little boy who begins a movement and ultimately transforms a “green-less,” abandoned railroad into luscious gardens that transform the city into a place of beauty, community and life! This story is a great way to get kids excited about gardening and to even introduce them to the idea of urban gardening. The book will touch your heart and hopefully move you to make a difference in your city!

We Planted A Tree by Diane Muldrow

This short, poetic story is an easy way to introduce the idea of the Interdependent Web; “We planted a tree, And that one tree make the world better.”  Through looking at all we can do by simply planting a seed, we get in touch with the power of each and every act. Check it out!

All I See is Part of Me By Chara M. Curtis

Speaking of the Interdependent Web… this story beautifully reminds us that we are connected to ALL. Reminding our kids that they are connected to everything (even things they cannot see!) is a great way to share the importance of caring for our planet and each other.

Music

I couldn’t highlight some of my favorite resources without talking about Jack Johnson.

One of my favorite albums is called “Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George.” With songs about recycling and a collaboration with Ben Harper that reminds us of what we can achieve with our “Own Two Hands,” this is a must-have for parents, teachers, grandparents, and… well, everyone!

Not only is Jack Johnson’s music great for all ages, but he is also a heck of an enviornmentalist himself; take a peek at his website to learn more about his efforts to green everything from the way he produces his music to reduce the footprint of each and every concert.

Crafts:

Make It! By Jane Bull

If you or anyone in your home loves to get crafty, check out this awesome book of ways to reuse items and turn them into great gifts (and a fun project for a rainy day!). Learn how to make jewels from junk mail, nifty picture frames from old toys, and stuffed animals from hats and gloves. This is a great way to make gifts for holidays.. and hey, play a little Jack Johnson in the background and you have yourself a recipe for a “green” day of fun!

Books that “Stand on the Side of Love” (Week Four)

"Uncle Bobby's Wedding" by Sarah Brannen
In honor of this month’s @Home, each week in February will feature a different children’s book that honors all families and celebrates love.
Just by reading and sharing these stories we are all doing our part to help create a culture that affirms the worth and dignity of all persons AND their families.

No matter what your family looks like, I hope you will take some time to check out some of these books!

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"Uncle Bobby's Wedding"

Week Four – “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” by Sarah S. Brannen
I was introduced to “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” by Sarah S. Brannen just in the nick of time!

My daughter has reached the age when questions about EVERYTHING fill our days; including her wonderings about all of this “getting married” stuff she is surrounded with seemingly every minute of every day (thank you, Disney). Of course, the images that bombard her world tend to feature a very narrow view of what love and marriage looks like.

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding  was a great way for me to begin to address some of my daughter’s questions about marriage and weddings and has allowed me to incorporate more diverse representations of marriage into her world view.

Brannen’s tale introduces a rather familiar concept: the jealousy a child may feel when he or she learns that a beloved family member may be sharing time with someone new. In this story, Chloe, an adorable hamster, is saddened, even in the midst of her family’s celebrations, that her favorite Uncle Bobby will be getting married to Jamie. Chloe adores the time that she gets to spend with her Uncle Bobby and wonders if he will still have time to share with her after he gets married. Of course, by the end of the book (spoiler alert!) Chloe learns that she doesn’t have to be jealous of her Uncle’s new husband, but that there is enough love to go around.

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding is a sweet story that features themes and characters that speak to the heart of children of all ages. If your little one is beginning to wonder about marriage, why not include this book in your conversations?

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So, UU@Home-rs, this is where you come in; in addition to providing four of my own favs, I am turning the tables this month and asking each of you to contribute some of your own great resources for all ages! Add your book recommendations below, or check out the UU@Home facebook page and join the discussion board, post pictures, and don’t forget to include a link!

Books that “Stand on the Side of Love” (Week Three)

A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

In honor of this month’s @Home, each Wednesday in February will feature a children’s book that honors all families and celebrates love.

Just by reading and sharing these stories we are all doing our part to help create a culture that affirms the worth and dignity of all persons AND their families.

No matter what your family looks like, I hope you will take some time to check out some of these books!

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"A Tale of Two Daddies"

Week Three – A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager
I stumbled upon this week’s book in our local library a few months ago and I instantly loved it.

The author of “A Tale of Two Daddies”, Vanita Oelschlager, does a wonderful job capturing the genuine curiosity expressed by children when they meet someone who has a family that looks a little different from their own. This charming story features a little boy who wonders about the family of his playground playmate; a little girl who has two dads.

As the two children play together, the little boy begins to ask a series of questions including, “Which dad helps you when your day begins?/ Who is there to tuck you in?”

The little girl proudly responds, “Poppa’s awake when my day begins. / Both of my daddies tuck me in.”

I love that kids and caretakers can read this story and think about who helps them in their own home and discover that while each family is not exactly the same, love is always there!

“Who is your dad when you’re sad and need some love?”

“Both, of course!”

Through it’s simple story and beautiful illustrations, this book reminds us that a child’s concept of “family” is ultimately formed by what they know and see around them; so surround the children you love with books about the love shared between all families!

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So, UU@Home-rs, this is where you come in; in addition to providing four of my own favs, I am turning the tables this month and asking each of you to contribute some of your own great resources for all ages! Add your book recommendations below, or check out the UU@Home facebook page and join the discussion board, post pictures, and don’t forget to include a link!

Books that "Stand on the Side of Love" (Week Two)

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

In honor of this month’s @Home, each Wednesday in February will feature a children’s book that honors all families and celebrates love.

Just by reading and sharing these stories we are all doing our part to help create a culture that affirms the worth and dignity of all persons AND their families.

No matter what your family looks like, I hope you will take some time to check out some of these books!

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"And Tango Makes Three"

Week Two – “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
This week’s pick was a total no-brainer: “And Tango Makes Three” is a heart-warming, true story that celebrates the love shared between two male penguins, Roy and Silo, and the beauty of the family they create together after they are given the gift of a fertile egg from another penguin couple. Roy and Silo take turns caring for the egg and, eventually, it hatches, and Tango is born.

This book is a great way to remind children (and adults) that even though Tango’s family might look a little different than theirs, that the love shared between Tango and her dads is just as beautiful and valuable as any other family. Plus penguins. Who doesn’t love penguins?

While “And Tango Makes Three” has become a staple in UU Religious Education libraries from coast to coast, this book has still faced a fair amount of controversy. It topped the American Library Association‘s list of “most challenged books” in 2006, not falling to number two until 2009.

The calls to ban this book are yet another sad reminder of just how much our society needs the lessons from books such as these and how important it is to fight to keep these stories alive. Hopefully, the generation of children that grows up loving Tango will create a world that truly honors the value and rights of all families. In the meantime, this book continues to play a vital role in putting an end to bullying by teaching us that the love shared between Tango and her dads is not unlike the love in every other family.

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So, UU@Home-rs, this is where you come in; in addition to providing four of my own favs, I am turning the tables this month and asking each of you to contribute some of your own great resources for all ages! Add your book recommendations below, or check out the UU@Home facebook page and join the discussion board, post pictures, and don’t forget to include a link!

Books that "Stand on the Side of Love" (Week One)

The Family Book by Todd Parr

In honor of this month’s @Home, each Wednesday in February I will feature a children’s book that honors all families and celebrates love.

Just by reading and sharing these stories, we are all doing our part to help create a culture that affirms the worth and dignity of all persons AND their families.

No matter what your family looks like, I hope you will take some time to check out some of these books!

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"The Family Book"

Week One – “The Family Book” by Todd Parr
Let me just start by saying that I love Todd Parr! If you are at all familiar with his work, then you know that all of his books are colorful, engaging and appropriate for all ages. But beyond those (awesome) qualities, Todd Parr is unique in that he approaches each topic with genuine love and makes his readers, young and old, feel special.

The first time I read “The Family Book”, I literally teared up. Never before had I read a children’s book that truly honored all families by reminding us, in the most clear-cut way possible, that families come in all shapes and sizes. I imagine this book having the power to un-do some of the damaging ideas that have been passed down from generation to generation. I imagine kids world-wide reminding adults that there is no one “desired” family structure and that a family with two moms or two dads is just as special and wonderful as a family that has one mom and one dad, or, as Todd reminds us, “Your family is special no matter what kind it is.”

P.S. Check out some of Todd Parr’s other amazing books; with topics from adoption, to different kinds of mommies and daddies, to taking care of the Earth. You now have a new favorite author!

**************************************************

So, UU@Home-rs, this is where you come in; in addition to providing four of my own favs, I am turning the tables this month and asking each of you to contribute some of your own great resources for all ages! Add your book recommendations below, or check out the UU@Home facebook page and join the discussion board, post pictures, and don’t forget to include a link!