Monday, April 5, 2010

31 Ways to Change the World

By We Are What We Do

Candlewick Press, 2010

$8.99 pbk, ages 8-12, 80 pages

Who thought helping Earth could be so fun?

This clever handbook gives little ways to make the world cleaner and happier, from lowering the thermostat at home (and slipping on a sweater) to using stuff until it's worn out (rather than throwing it out for something fancier).

The book comes from the London-based movement We Are What We Do, which encourages ordinary people to take on environmental and social problems through the slogan, "Small Actions x Lots of People = Big Change."

While many of the ideas will be familiar to kids (like turning off lights and being kind to others), each action is introduced in a way that is catchy and contagious.

Action #7 asks kids to look closer at their world and notice things no one else does, and conveys this idea with a two-page spread designed by the creator of Where's Waldo, British illustrator Martin Handford.

Readers are asked to find 10 images representing positive actions (along with the grinning man in the bobble hat), which gets them engaged in the world before them in a fun way.

Best Parts: Action #18 really grabbed my attention because at first I thought I was going to disagree with it, but as I read further I realized where it was headed and immediately wanted to make it my own.

The action, "Don't Sing in the Shower," is geared to getting kids out of the shower faster and offers an interesting fact: if all the kids in a class cut their shower time from seven minutes to two for one year, they could fill a swimming pool with the water they saved!

The authors end with the snappy catch phrase: "Take shorter showers. Save your singing for the rain," along with a humorous incentive that sleepy teens will surely love: "(P.S. Shorter showers also mean more time to sleep in. Which is almost as good as saving the world.)"

For more great ideas, click We Are What We Do under my "Blogs and Links I'm Following."

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