Guest post by Liz Garton Scanlon, author of children’s book Kate Who Tamed the Wind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited as stating, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” I’d add that the creation of a thousand dreams is in one child.
We should’ve tended to the planet better twenty and fifty years ago — we know that now. But here is the next generation, just as full of optimism and creative genius as we were at their age, and they stand at the ready – dreaming. My book, Kate Who Tamed the Wind, is a story about one of those dreamers — a girl who uses trees to solve a simple problem, to care for a friend and to care for the world.
It’s not that complicated, what we need and what the Earth needs. Clean air, clean and plentiful water, and trees. It’s not that complicated, but it requires patience. Rebuilding the natural stability and beauty of what we’ve undone will take time, and time is something that kids are uniquely equipped with.
This is what I love about writing children’s books. I get to be there at the beginning. To help sow the seeds of their ideas. To bear witness to their wide — eyed notions and possibilities. And then watch, with hope, as they grow and change and develop into the people who will set things right.
Sometimes it seems as if all we hear about “kids these days” is negative – they are addicted to screens, they suffer obesity and diabetes, they have Nature Deficit Disorder. But so much comes down to what we put in front of them, what we offer and make available. When I visit schools, I meet kids who love playing outside, who are brave and funny and adventurous, who are full of bright ideas. I meet kids who relish being read to and who yearn to tell their own stories. I meet kids who are vulnerable and tender — hearted, and who are learning to connect with each other, take care of each other, and depend on each other. I meet kids whom we can depend on.
We can also depend on trees – to supply us with oxygen and shade; to block the wind and hold the Earth in place; to host our tree — houses and our hammocks. But they need our help. Like kids, they are vulnerable and tender — hearted. Like kids, so much comes down to what we put in front of them. What we offer and make available. Like kids, trees need time, and they take it.
When we plant a seed or a sapling, it doesn’t instantly offer shade or oxygen or windbreak. Not quite yet. But the roots sink deep, and the trunk reaches for what it will eventually be. When we read to kids, they don’t instantly become readers. Not quite yet. But all the bits and pieces of a reader have been sowed – the vocabulary, the anticipation, the love of story. We are – the teachers and tree folks, the writers and the readers – helping to grow the future, together.
Liz Garton Scanlon’s upcoming picture book KATE, WHO TAMED THE WIND, illustrated by Lee White (on sale: 2/6/2018) is about – and for – those young people who stand at the ready with their optimism and their ideas, who are ready to plant their trees and tell their stories.
About the Author: LIZ GARTON SCANLON is the author of many children’s picture books, including the Caldecott Honor Book All the World and Happy Birthday, Bunny, which Publishers Weekly called “as memorable and heartfelt as a birthday book gets.” Liz lives in breezy, beautiful Austin, Texas, with her husband and her two daughters, who all love flying kites. Follow Liz on Twitter at @LGartonScanlon and visit her at lizgartonscanlon.com.