Staff Picks: Earth Day

| April 19, 2017

170405_exhibit_219x365Spring has sprung! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, bugs are buzzing! As we pass the midway point of April, Earth Day is on its way; with nature being so busy, there’s no better time to celebrate the planet.

This staff picks collection captures the spirit of the holiday, which was first observed as a teach-in that took place at many American colleges and universities. Since its launch in 1970, much has changed. The ways we study and connect with our planet are vastly different, as are the things we know about Earth and its place in the universe. I gathered materials across many subjects — from everyday reuse and recycling to water protection, wind power to interplanetary colonization — to demonstrate what it is that we have learned. Scientific discovery not only helps us preserve our planet and everything on it, but it also gives us the ability to create great works of fiction. Many of the works listed here are true. Those that are not were chosen because they are based in inquiry: the driving force behind how far we’ve come as a species.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
JUV PS3523 .E55 W7 1962

“There will no longer be so many pleasant things to look at if responsible people do not do something about the unpleasant ones.”

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
JUV PZ7 .B81668 Cu 2009

As the weeks rolled by, Liam began to feel like a real gardener, and the plants began to feel like a real garden.

The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must by Robert Zubrin with Richard Wagner
QB641 .Z83 2011

Mapping the trajectory of a spacecraft is a relatively straightforward business, bounded only by the laws of physics. Mapping the trajectory of an idea through a political system, on the other hand, can be a dicey business.

Forest by Jane Taylor Lisle
JUV PZ7 .L6912 .Fo 1993

“She was sick of living in a sick place. She wants to go someplace else.”

Nobody Particular by Molly Bang
CURR TD195 .C45 B35 2000

How much of that toxic discharge flows right into this water? We may be poor, but this is just wrong. I’m going to stop it. I’m going to protect these bays.

B is for Blue Planet: An Earth Science Alphabet by Ruth Strother, illustrated by Bob Marstall
CURR QE29 .S795 2011

Water up and water down, covering almost all the ground.
Lakes and oceans, rivers, too, turn the earth a brilliant blue.

Life on Earth — and Beyond: An Astrobiologist’s Quest by Pamela S. Turner
CURR QH327 .T87 2008

Could similar life be waiting beyond earth?

An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming by Al Gore
CURR QC981.8 .G56 G668 2007

Many people are convinced, mistakenly, that the Earth is so big, human beings can’t do serious damage to it.

Something Stinks! by Gail E. Hedrick
JUV PZ7 .H35638 Som 2013

Mary shrugged. “Hey, you don’t have to be great in science. You just have to make enough sense to get people who are great in science to listen to you.”

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
CURR TJ140 .K36 A3 2012

“Magetsi a mphepo,” he whispered: I will build electric wind.

We Are the Targets: The Story of Environmental Impacts by Dr. Harold McKenna
TD194.6 .M32 1980

We can’t look back in time and return to the “good old days” of a crystal clear countryside as it was before we dropped our first candy wrapper. So what do environmentalists want?

Death by Black Hole: and Other Cosmic Quandries by Neil deGrasse Tyson
QB982 .T965 2014

Not only do we live amongst the stars, the stars live within us.

Trash by Andy Mulligan
JUV PZ7 .M918454 Tr 2010

What does the country need right now? THREE THINGS: A revolution. Then a revolution. Then – when the dust has settled – a revolution.

Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash by Susan Strasser
HD4482 .S77 2000

Nothing is inherently trash.

Eco Dogs by Judith Bauer Stamper
CURR SF428.75 .S83 2011

Eco dogs save scientists time and money. How? They search faster than humans do, go into places that machines can’t reach, and require little maintenance.

The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson
CURR GC21 .C32 1962

It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
SB959 .C3 1962

When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizer pills of half truth.

Recycling & Reuse in the Art Room by Donna Janeczo
CURR TT160 .J3 1991

The great thing about reuse of “throwaway” materials is that students and their families are generally happy to contribute materials for recycling in the art room!

The Junk Book by Hannah Tofts
CURR TT160 .T54 1991

Even the oldest, shabbiest things can be made to look interesting.