Happy World Environment Day!
Today we recognize our efforts to improve the environment by reducing our carbon footprint on the earth.
The Lorax written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss (1971)
The Lorax is probably the best known children’s environmentalist. Since 1971, he has been speaking for the trees. He warns against pollution of the land, air, and water. And when all the trees are cut down, and the fish, birds, and bears are banished, the Lorax himself disappears leaving only one word behind ‘unless’. It is the once-ler who tells the story and only the once-over has the last remaining seed and the warning that ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ The once-ler then gives the seed to the reader in the hopes that the reader will take on the responsibility of replanting the forest and taking care of the environment.
Set in the Amazon Rainforest, Lynn Cherry tells a story of a man who comes to chop down a great kapok tree. The tree is old and it takes a long time to chop down. The man stops for a nap, and while he sleeps the animals of the rainforest come talk to him about the importance of that tree to their survival. A child arrives last and whispers to the man too. The man wakes up from his nap and looks around as if noticing all the beauty and life of the rainforest. He leaves his ax and never returns.
Chief Seattle’s words to the United States government in 1854 warned about the effects expansion can have on the land if we are not careful in our treatment of the earth, in negotiating a purchase from the Northwest Nations. He spoke about respect for the earth and all its inhabitants. “We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” Below is a translation of Chief Seattle’s speech, which is the basis of Susan Jeffers beautifully illustrated picture book for children.