Earth Day Reading Project

When I was first asked by Joene, of joenes garden, to participate in an invitation-only blog meme started by The Sage Butterfly to “List at least three books that inspired you to perform any sustainable living act or inspired you to live green, and then tell us why they inspired you” in order to commemorate Earth Day 2011, I have to admit I looked up from my desk and saw the shelves and shelves of gardening books in my office and thought it would be an easy choice. Well, to my surprise, it wasn’t.

After spending some time thinking about how green I am (I’m on the road but have lots of room for improvement), I realized that my journey towards living a more sustainable life really started when my kids were born and was slowly nurtured as I nurtured them.

The Giving Tree

The first book I’d like to highlight is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. In a way, it represents all the books my sons and I read together over the years. It also represents my realization, one I imagine many new parents experience, that life was no longer just about me.  My first steps towards living a more sustainable life where out of concern for the well-being of my children, not the larger environment. 

I also chose The Giving Tree because, even though it’s a little book with simple line drawings, it was one of my sons’ favorites. Who wouldn’t love a book that begins with Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy. My sons found thier own giving trees in all their special places – our garden, their grandparents garden, the park, etc.

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds

I selected The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds because it represents the beginnings of my realization that what I do in my own garden impacts local wildlife.  My mother-in-law gave this book, along with a bird feeder, to my boys and started us all on a journey of appreciating birds.

Rather than show the cover image (which is just plain green), I wanted to show you a representative page from inside the book.  Notice the two blue circles, one on the photo of the Great Blue Heron and the other on the Little Blue Heron?  We put sticky dots on the photos of any birds my sons saw.  For years, we took this book with us everywhere — on vacation, to the zoo, when we visited family — and always looked for new birds to ‘check off’ in the book.  To entice more birds into our garden, we hung bird feeders, put out bird baths and started looking at our garden as a place that birds would want to come and live in.

Bringing Nature Home

The final book I selected is Bringing Nature Home:  How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants by Douglas Tallamy. Like many other native plant advocates, I can trace my epiphany back to the first time I read this book.

Before I read it, I never really thought about the plants in my garden nourishing so many different kinds of insects. Sure, I chose plants based on their deer-resistance or whether they offered something for the birds we loved to look at but I never imagined their  leaves had chemical signatures that were integral to the survival of so many different insects.

After reading Bringing Nature Home, I realized that viewing plants through a native lens, with an eye towards the diversity of wildlife they can sustain, could really make a major impact on the environment. It’s a lens I now using when choosing plants for my own garden, as well as for my landscape design clients.

I invited two of my favorite bloggers to join me in the Earth Day Reading Project. Please click-through the links below and check out the books that inspired them.

♦  Marguerite of Canoe Corner in Prince Edward Island, Canada

♦  Scott of Blue Heron Landscapes in Granby, CT

9 thoughts on “Earth Day Reading Project

  1. I love that you listed The Giving Tree (I’ve saved the copy our children had to read to our granddaughter) and the field guide to birds. It is so important to instill a respect for plants and creatures in our children and both of these books permit parents to do just that. I’ve also made sighting notations in my copy of A Field Guide to Birds by Roger Tory Peterson, a book I’ve had for about twenty years. We share opinions of Bringing Nature Home.

    Thanks for taking on this meme.

    • Joene, Tahnks again for inviting to take part in the meme. I saved our copy of The Giving Tree too but am hoping it’s a looong time before I’m ready it to a grandchild.

  2. The Giving Tree offers such a symbolic message of the generosity of nature. Your other reads are inspiring as well. Birds are so important to our ecosystem and are a great indicator of the state of our environment–as per Rachel Carson. And I love watching and listening to them. You have chosen a great list of reads. Thank you for participating in The Earth Day Reading Project and Happy Earth Day.

    • TSB, Thanks for starting the meme, it was a fun excercise. It’s been interesting to see other bloggers’ list of books and see some familair titles and others to add to my reading list.

  3. Pingback: Earth Day Reading Project « Blue Heron Landscapes

  4. Debbie,

    It’s great to hear how these books not only spoke to you in regards to nature, but how they found a place within your family’s life also. Watching the world unfold in your child’s eyes is a magical experience, and your post brought back many memories.

    Thanks for asking me to participate, I’ve enjoyed looking back to my inspirations and sharing them. I treasure the network of like minded bloggers we have become and the friendships that have evolved. A true gift for earth day!

    P.S. How cool to see a “Blue Heron” in your post!

    • Scott, The blue heron was definitely by design, I’m glad you appreciated it. I agree that the network of bloggers we’ve developed has been a special gift.

  5. Debbie thank you for the lovely compliment. You are the second person to suggest Bringing Nature Home and I cannot wait to read it. Just starting a new garden I think it might inspire how things take shape in my yard. I’m always excited to see a bird book as I have several. I too mark off the birds that I have seen and I love that this was an activity that you shared with sons. Have a happy Easter, Marguerite

    • I found several new titles to add to my reading list too. I’m so glad The Sage Buttefly started the meme, it’s been interesting to read about other people’s inspirations. Happy Easter to you, too.

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