Explore! Conserve! Read!
Meet Katherine Applegate, winner of the 2020 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature and champion of animals, on Friday, May 1
A shopping mall gorilla who attempts to rescue a baby elephant from his own fate. (The One and Only Ivan)
A clever crow, friend of the old red oak tree, and other woodland animals navigate the nasty world of human hatred. (Wishtree)
A dog-like creature in a fantasy world who discovers she is the last of her species. (Endling the Last)
All are characters created by prolific children’s author Katherine Applegate, and all show the depth of her love for animals.
Tulsa area children will have the opportunity to meet Katherine Applegate on Friday, May 1, at the Hardesty Regional Library as she receives the 2020 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Reader’s Literature.
In a perfect coincidence, National Endangered Species Day will be celebrated just a few weeks later on May 15. Both Katherine Applegate’s visit and this day represent an excellent opportunity to introduce your child to the topic of endangered species and conservation.
The first step is pretty easy. Simply introduce your child to as many different animals as possible as early as possible.
One way to do this is to read books that contain a variety of animals. This lays a foundation for children to care about endangered species as they get older.
In a recent children’s program at the Schusterman-Benson Library, Katie Girvin, education manager at the Tulsa Zoo, explained that simply learning about and appreciating animals is the first step in teaching kids about conservation.
“It is a natural progression,” she shared. “They learn about wildlife, they start appreciating wildlife, they learn to help wildlife.”
Girvin explained that when discussing these issues with younger children, it is imperative to focus on the positive. She urged parents to “celebrate nature and wildlife instead of telling them all the bad things that are happening.”
What does that look like at home with, say, toddlers or preschoolers? She recommends using language like, “Let’s turn off the water when we brush our teeth so our fishy friends have more!” instead of, “Let’s not waste water, our fishy friends might die.”
One marvelous tool that parents can use to begin to share a knowledge and love of animals is Explore.org, a free website with dozens of live streams of animals in their natural habitats around the world. Watch hippos, zebras and elephants visit the watering hole in Africa or polar bears roughhousing in the snow in Canada.
For a more hands-on experience, check out Zoo Buddies, a quarterly program at the Tulsa Zoo for kids ages 2 to pre-K or summer camps at the zoo.
Finally, the next best way to learn about animals, at least according to this librarian?
Books, of course!
Check out all the quality animal books available at the 24 branch locations of the Tulsa City-County Library. Here are some of my personal recommendations that are both entertaining and informative:
“Who am I?” by Tim Flach
Use clues to guess which endangered animal is peeking through the pages. The full-color, close-up photographs offer readers an unparalleled view of each animal, with information about how each one is special.
“Hello Hello” by Brendan Wenzel
Author-illustrator Wenzel treats readers to strikingly vibrant animals in 92 varieties. Use the illustrations to spot the similarities and differences between the animals on each spread. This interactive book begs to be read again and again.
Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux
Perfect for little ones, the illustrations are the star of the show in this interactive book. With sparse text, Barroux cleverly introduces the topic of deforestation and allows readers to draw their own conclusions about what is happening from one page to the next.
Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney
The story of a young pangolin learning to face the new and unfamiliar. Dewdney gives voice to the endangered pangolin through her universal storytelling and beloved illustrations.
Animal Ark – Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures. Poetry by Alexander Keane and photographs by Joel Sartore
Exquisite images of endangered animals from wildlife photographer Joel Sartore paired with haiku from Alexander Kwame make this a delight for animal lovers and readers.
For readers ages 8-12:
Endling the Last and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Both of these beautifully written novels expresses the necessity of caring for animals and our world.
Anthology of Intriguing Animals by Ben Hoare
A stunning collection of animals, complete with facts, photographs, and illustrations. Reminiscent of a volume of old fairy tales, the striking outer design makes it feel even more like a treasure.
Even More Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown
“How can we save animals if we’ve never heard of them?” Brown entices readers to learn about the rarely spotted creatures in the animal kingdom with his humor and clever, yet realistic illustrations. For readers ages 7-10