It has been a long while since I have shared a book we have read in our studies. This is partly due to the fact that few of the books we have read have really inspired me lately. This week … we came upon two. The first I would like to share is A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry.
This is an amazing story of the Nashua River in New England and its transformation from a clear, clean water resource to a sluggish dying river, polluted muddy and red by a nearby paper mill. Readers are first introduced to the Nashua River of the 1400s when Native Americans and a vast array of fish, birds and animals inhabited this fertile river valley. With each page turn, readers are follow the “progress of man”through the industrial 1800s and the water pollution that followed. Finally, learn how the efforts of one woman, Marion Stoddart, the Nashua River has been restored to its original beauty, another example of the difference one person can make.
This is the remarkable environmental success story of the cleanup of New England’s once polluted Nashua River. A River Ran Wild is beautifully designed, and its message is admirable. Readers will be moved to consider their personal impact on the environment and what they can do to make a difference.
Coincidentally, we read this story after we had taken part in a stream restoration project as a part of the Pacific Northwest Roots & Shoots Summit at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. We worked along side the other volunteers to pull invasive blackberry vines and plant native shrubs in the riparian area.
Upon reading the story aloud to the kids, we discussed cause and effect using examples from the story. To take it further, I invoked a discussion with the kids about service learning. We also developed a definition for philanthropy and the meaning of private action for the common good. We made a list of philanthropic activities that already occur in our home and in our community. I then asked them to write out their ideas for how they could make a difference for animals, the environment, and/or the community.