Meet Cathleen Burnham, founder of WAKA, which stands for World Association of Kids and Animals. WAKA is a website & outreach effort that offers engaging gateway stories, ideas for youth activities and projects, and other resources that highlight stories of kids involved in endangered wild animal protection. WAKA stories celebrate kid empowerment!
Tony and His Elephants is a picturebook that introduces young readers to Tony, an eight-year-old boy, whose family runs a small elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand. Tony becomes involved in the care of two young elephants, Baby Pumpuii and Nam Cho, rescued from an urban setting to a new life in the forests. But life in the wilds is not without its own drama and danger. Tony is quickly drawn into a deep and lasting relationship with these amazing and sensitive animals. This is the third book by documentary photographer Cathleen Burnham in her series featuring kids involved in wild animal rescue activities around the world.
The Watcher starts out with a bang. Jane Goodall is missing! Not Jane, the primatologist, but Valerie Jane, the little English girl, beloved by her family. Thankfully, young Jane is found safe and sound, hiding in the henhouse to see exactly how an egg comes from a chicken. Jane was doing what she would come to do best: watching animals to learn about them. The Watcher is written for children who don’t yet know Jane Goodall but can relate to the little girl who loves animals and has one singular, unshakable dream: to visit Africa.
Because of my background in teaching reading and science, I’m a fan of integrating science education, especially environmental science, with language arts. My three novels – Island Sting, Stakeout, and Tangled Lines – are realistic, contemporary eco-mysteries that pit young teens against environmental and human threats to wildlife.
Mikaila Ulmer is an 11-year-old social entrepreneur and honeybee ambassador. She lives in Austin, Texas, where as young girl she founded her own business, a modern take on the front-yard lemonade stands. Only bigger. Here’s the story . . .
Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson have written a turtle conservation picturebook that, within its short word count, is so much more. In Follow the Moon Home, the authors outline a detailed, scientific approach that young activists can use to address environmental and social problems, while laying out a great way to make new friends.
An especially wonderful book is Don’t Judge a Bird by its Feathers, by Tori Nighthawk. A picturebook for young readers, it is set in the rainforests of New Guinea. The illustrations are bright and bold, and the story carries a great message for kids. Best of all, it was written and illustrated by a young author, 13-year-old Tori Nighthawk.
(Guest Post by Cathleen Burnham) My family hired a small motor boat from the tiny port at Siquirres to a tinier landing at Parismina Island. We had come to the small island on the Caribbean Sea, on the east coast of Costa Rica, to learn about sea turtles and participate in the local turtle conservation program, including meeting the kids involved in patrolling the beaches, who called themselves the Tortuga Squad.
Want to join others to advocate for better treatment of wild animals? Want to support the work of those involved in protecting wildlife and their habitats? Here’s a list of official celebration events, from International Polar Bear Day to World Elephant Day. [Page in progress! Send us your information and ideas on important events we should add!]
A good place to start is this: “The best definition of conservation that I can come up with is: ‘Things people do to establish or maintain good relations with nature.’” That’s from a university professor, Chris Sandbrook (Cambridge). Good relations. It’s what the Lakota people (Native American Indians) knew when they greeted all life around them with a prayer to the world, “mitakuye oyasin” . . . loosely translated as “All my relations.” It means we are all connected. We are all family.
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Like a canary in a coal mine”? It comes from a historic practice from coal mining history, when miners would take caged birds down into the mines. The birds were especially sensitive to dangerous gases, even more so than the men. So if the canary in the cage…