— by Martha Sullivan
Editor’s Note: Martha Sullivan’s new book, Pitter and Patter, stems from her passion to create nature stories for children that fill them with awe. Pitter and Patter does just that as it takes children on a fun-filled ride through the water cycle through the eyes of two raindrops.
Every parent and teacher should read the preamble to The Earth Charter [see excerpt from the Preamble at the end of this post]. Launched in 2000, the charter is a powerful “ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century.” 1
The charter is a call to arms but the arms are unconventional. How can we, for example, instil the love and respect for nature that the charter challenges us to?
Fortunately, when children are given the opportunity to explore the natural world, this love and respect for nature comes, well—naturally. Children have an inherent love for nature—something E.O. Wilson termed biophilia. We can picture tiny hands holding muddy, wriggly worms or the broken, blue shell of a robin’s egg and know this to be true.
The problem is that children are increasingly losing contact with nature—spending their days behind school walls or hours interacting with technology—so this love, not fostered, is being lost. A tragedy for the children on a personal level but also on a societal one for without this early exposure and affiliation with nature, these children are less likely to become the citizens that will value and protect the environment later in life.
The good news is that the solution is easy—simply provide more opportunities for children to learn about and love nature; something that they are more than happy to do.
We can do this through hikes in the woods, school and community gardens that welcome pint-sized gardeners, outdoor education programs and, perhaps, easiest of all, through the books we offer.
As citizens of the Earth, we have each been called upon by the Earth Charter to take up arms for the cause. Those arms come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. For me, they have taken the shape of books; books not intended to preach environmentalism, but rather to stoke the innate fascination that children hold for all living things and, in doing so, pave a pathway for a sustainable future.
Excerpt from The Earth Charter: Preamble
We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future… We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations . . . 2
1 From “What is the Earth Charter, The Earth Charter Initiative, http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/pages/What-is-the-Earth-Charter%3F.html
2 From “What is the Earth Charter, The Earth Charter Initiative, http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/pages/Read-the-Charter.html