Since the company was founded in 1991, diversity at LEE & LOW has been defined by ethnicity. Our focus has always been on multicultural stories that explore racial and cultural diversity, from remembering the experiences of past generations to reflecting on the world in which we live today.
For the first time in twenty-five years, our mission is expanding to include themes outside the conversation of race. Here are three new books that charted new territory for us:
Irena’s Jars of Secrets (Fall 2011)
The riveting, true story of Polish social worker Irena Sendler, who lived during World War II. Using creative means, and at great personal risk, she saved thousands of Jewish children from Hitler’s Nazis by smuggling the children out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Why we published this story: In 1997, we published a book called Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story, about a Japanese diplomat who defied his government during World War II to help thousands of Jewish refugees elude the Germans. While the themes of Irena’s Jars of Secrets and Passage to Freedom are similar, acts of extreme heroism for the sake of others are rare, timeless, and worth celebrating. Another reason Irena Sendler’s story spoke to us was the chilling fact that although nearly seventy years have passed since World War II ended, crimes of genocide continue into the twenty-first century. We felt that young readers should know about Irena Sendler as someone who stood for justice and compassion in times like these, and we discovered there were no other picture books that told her story. (Note: One season before our book was published, another book on Irena was released, so now there are two picture books about her.)
Our very own author/adventurer/world record-breaker Jan Reynolds will be hosting a live, free webinar this Friday from Bali, the site of her award-winning book, Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming.
“We have tried to instill in [young people] the idea that protecting the environment is not just a pleasure but also a duty.” -Wangari Maathai
This weekend marked the too-soon passing of Wangari Maathai. Maathai was the great mind behind Kenya’s Green-Belt movement, which trained women throughout Kenya to plant trees, addressing Kenya’s environmental problems and empowering women at the same time. For her groundbreaking work, Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize – the first environmentalist and the first African woman to do so.
Happy Earth Day, everyone! In celebration of the day, I thought I’d ask around the office to see what Lee & Low staff members are doing to keep things green, and got some great answers:
“Tonight, I’m going to be unplugging my TV, laptop and phone and curling up with glass of certified organic wine and a good environmentally focused book, either Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion by Alan Burdick (which I need to finish!) or Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change (an old favorite).”—Jaclyn DeForge, Educational Sales Associate
“I started using reusable bags a few years ago at the suggestion of my cousin. I found out that the U.S. wastes approximately 100 billion plastic bags every year, so I’ve been using a reusable bag ever since to cut down on waste. The one I have is really convenient too- it folds up to the size of the palm of my hand, so I can just keep it in my purse. It’s prettier than a plastic bag, too!” —Lucy Amon, Marketing & Publicity Assistant
Turkey Day. Autumn Pie Day. American Gluttony Day.
It’s coming. Are you ready?
Have you picked out a book to get your kids in a spirit of thanks and appreciation for the natural world?
Jen Cullerton Johnson is an educator and the author of Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace, a biography of biologist, environmentalist, and activist Wangari Maathai. We asked her to blog about ways teachers can bring awareness of nature and environmentalism into the classroom; here are her five key suggestions. We hope you find them useful, and of course, feel free to add your own suggestions and methods in comments!
Green teachers everywhere know that students can’t become stewards of the environment without hands-on interactions with nature. Describing the root system of plants puts third graders to sleep, but if you bring in several plants and allow the students to feel, see, and discuss, the room becomes atwitter with curiosity. Active learning impresses the mind. Passive learning depresses it. Green teachers facilitate a nature-based experience for their students. In each lesson they teach, in each interaction with their students, they look for ways to connect the environment with other subjects.
The oil spill in the Gulf has been all over the news lately, and, frustrating though the lack of progress has been, there have been many efforts to stem the oil geyser. What about oil spills that don’t have a large impact on Americans? The Times looks at the Niger River Delta, which has seen the equivalent of the Exxon-Valdez spill a year every year for fifty years, with little attempt at cleanup or attention to the disastrous effect on the area’s ecosystem or economic future.