Book Review: Raising an Earth Friendly Child

I’ve borrowed several Green-ish books from the library and will be sharing my thoughts on them on here. First up is Raising an Earth Friendly Child by Debbie Tillsworth.

I will say, I’m about halfway through and I’m very disappointed. The book seems to take the same tired approach of “Scare Your Kids To Death and then Encourage Them To Do Something.” I personally do not agree with this approach at all, so activities like having my kid make a Play-dough city and then drowning it in the sink while telling him that his relatives on the coasts will all die when the oceans rise unless we turn off the faucet when we brush our teeth is completely out for me.

If we rule out all of those types of activities, the ones that are left are an interesting assortment. Many of them would be great for families wanting to make a transition to being more earth friendly with their chidren ages 4-10ish. Establishing an ecology cop, able to write tickets for pre-established offences, for example.

Many of the other activities would really come up naturally if a family is already living green – having a child help with recycling, for example, and talking about why we recycle. Getting rid of toxic cleaners and other items. Using cloth diapers.

Some of the activities are good ideas for any family – volunteering with a group that cleans up highways or rivers, for example. (I didn’t see cleaning up trails or parks in the book, but those are good activities, too. I know of a family who combines geocacheing with garbage picking up.) One activity suggested ways to help children understand the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources.

And there are some real gems in there, too. One is a diaper experiment where you take a disposable and a cloth diaper outside and bury them and mark their graves and then dig them up 6 months or a year later to compare. Wally will totally lose interest over the 6 months, but I think it’d be fun!

So, it’s really a mixed bag. Families just starting on their journey to being more green and wanting to get the kids involved would probably benefit the most from this book. Just, please, avoid tactics that make your child feel helpless or ridden with guilt – or fearful for his life.


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