María Acevedo-Aquino, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, San Antonio, TX and Dorea Kleker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Recently we witnessed the largest global climate strike in history. With more than 2,500 events in over 163 countries on all seven continents, there have been estimates of up to 4 million participants worldwide. The massive numbers are inspiring. The fact that youth were at the center of planning and organizing these events gives hope in a time when things often feel hopeless. With the future of our planet at the forefront of discussions, debates and protests, María Acevedo and Dorea Kleker discuss five books this month for our youngest citizens that are smaller but no less important; and they examine ways that children can make both local and global connections to the earth and act in ways that support their families, communities and the planet.
MARIA: A farm can grow anywhere, and anyone can grow a farm because all you need for an anywhere farm is soil, sunshine, some water, and a seed. Anywhere Farm is a story that shows a community where children, adults, pets, and neighboring insects come together to create a garden; a home for all things to grow. Neighbors plant everything everywhere, from kale in a pail to corn in a horn. Neighbors grow together by teaching and caring for each other and for their gardens.
While reading this concept book I think about the recao (Puerto Rican culantro) I’m trying to grow in Texas. I have the soil, the water, the sunshine, and many seeds. I may not have the same climate conditions, but I have hope in seeing my seeds grow. Hope to bring my Puerto Rican roots into my Texan backyard. Hope to feel at home and to feel grounded anywhere.
DOREA: María, when I look out onto my back patio here in Arizona, I see egg cartons filled with sprouting seeds that my young son planted as we prepare for our winter garden. I think of the way he excitedly checks them each morning, noting which have grown, which are being stubborn and proceeds with his daily routine and ritual of care. Tending to his plants isn’t a “chore” mandated by his parents but a self–initiated, sustained act of care that will ultimately put food on our family’s table. Yes, this book is a fun, rhyming concept book, but to me, it is a reminder of the ways that even the youngest children can take action to contribute to their families and communities.
MARIA: Yes, I have some of those stubborn seeds in my tiny garden! I have noticed that these seeds keep me thinking and brainstorming ideas when perhaps I should just learn to wait. I agree Dorea that the book could be perceived as just fun, but its message is loud. I think about young environmental activists like Autumn Peltier, Isra Hirsi, and Greta Thunberg and how their actions have encouraged children and adolescents around the world to become aware, to come together, and to take actions towards caring for each other and for the planet. I see how their stories can be integrated to think deeply about the messages in this book.
Title: Anywhere Farm
Author: Phyllis Root
Illustrator: Brian Karas
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Date Published: March 14, 2017
Throughout October 2019, María and Dorea give their take on books focused on youth taking action. Check back each Wednesday to follow the conversation!