Arts and Entertainment

Young readers get ideas for going green

The Bookworm

“True Green Kids” by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin, c. 2008, National Geographic, $15.95, 143 pages.

What color is your house?

Is it a big brick or block building that’s reddish-brownish? Or maybe your house is white or blue with a black or brown roof. Is there a gray cement sidewalk leading up to your front door? Perhaps you live in a techno-looking silver apartment building.

So what color is your house? No matter what color it is, it can be green if you read “True Green Kids” by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin.

You know that someday, you and your friends are going to be in charge of this planet we live on. And as a future caretaker of Earth, you’ve got to do everything you can to keep it a safe, healthy, clean place to be. But cleaning up the world is a big job and you hardly know where to start. This book can help.

If you’ve never tried being green, the easiest place to start is in your room. Add some green and growing houseplants to your windowsill. They’ll help keep the air in your bedroom clean (but don’t forget to water them). Host a clothes swap with your friends. Ask for rechargeable batteries for your next birthday. Surf the ‘net to find green Web sites, then be sure to turn your computer off to save money and electricity.

Not so hard, right? So let’s step outside…

Volunteer to hang wet clothes out to dry in the sun (clotheslines don’t produce greenhouse gases, but electric dryers do). Find a place for a garden and grow your own food. If you don’t have a back yard, try growing food in pots on your windowsill or balcony. Learn to compost or make a worm farm. Pay attention to nature by making a daily visit to one certain spot outdoors and journaling what you observe.

See? This is kind of fun.

Make a movie or write a play about being green. Send letters to local politicians with suggestions for taking care of the world. Ask “Do I really need that?” before you buy anything. Recycle paper, and make sure your school has a recycling bin. Turn off the lights (and replace old light bulbs with those new squiggly ones). Take green vacations. Use your brain creatively when giving gifts. Reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink.

Did you ever notice how a job sometimes gets so overwhelming that you hardly know where to begin? “True Green Kids” is a nice antidote to that. It helps your child get going with easy-at-first, then progressively more complex ideas for going green.

What makes it stand out from the pack of similar books is the experience of the authors. McKay and Bonnin are deeply involved in green organizations worldwide. This, and the huge variety of unique ways they include for helping save the planet, makes “True Green Kids” timely and fun.

If your 9- to 15-year-old is looking for simple ways to make a difference, or is in search of unusual ideas for going green, this is a book to turn to. For them, “True Green Kids” is golden.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

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