”You really inspired me to help the environment.” —Matthew (student)
I strive to educate and inspire young and not-so-young readers alike to care for diverse habitats, and the great and small creatures who call those habitats home. That’s why I started Authors for Earth Day. Authors for Earth Day is an international national coalition of award-winning children’s book authors and illustrators who are “supporting conservation through literacy” in schools in the U.S and other countries. Every April, their special one-day events direct money to conservation organizations while boosting children’s environmental awareness.
Like all grassroots efforts, Authors for Earth Day (A4ED) began simply. In spring 2008 I decided in recognition of Earth Day I would donate my April 22nd school visit fee to a conservation organization. Then I got to thinking, what if the students voted to determine the donation recipient? I was excited to demonstrate the power of voice in such a straight-forward manner—excited for each child to see how they could impact the environment, as a voter and as a writer.
I quickly coordinated the event with the rallying support of the teaching staff at Encanto School in Phoenix, Arizona. Starting with a list of five conservation organizations, the classrooms did research to evaluate the "nominees" while discussing the democratic process and considering the Earth Day message. Then, on April 22nd, during my author-illustrator visit, we held a paperless vote. Based on student ballots, the winner was determined and a check went to the Humane Society of the United States in honor of Encanto School.
That first Earth Day Author Visit was a great success! The teachers and kids really got into it; they made tons of posters and even wore Earth Day pins and t-shirts. Inspired and motivated, I became determined to see the concept grow to a national event. I began working toward that goal.
“Thanks to you, Brooke, for making this possible with your generous gift.”
—Patt Walker, Reading Specialist, Encanto School
By 2009, I had talked with a few author friends and launched the Authors for Earth Day website. But there remained an abundance of work ahead to make my dream reality. My Earth Day school visit at Kyrene de los Cerritos in Phoenix was another incredibly rewarding event. Everyone dressed in blue and green and cheered a lot! The Ocean Conservancy won the student vote to receive my speaking fee, and we all got thrilled to help make the world just a little bit better.
“Wow! You are fantastic! Thank you for the important work you do.”
—Cindy Eger, Teacher, Cerritos Elementary
I pushed on, working the whole next year, emailing authors, expanding the website and building support materials for a team. I spoke with authors across the country and everyone showed definite interested, but with the economy crumbling, it was a challenging time for charity. By Christmas I was convinced the whole idea was kaput, finished, a complete waste of time and energy.
My lack of faith proved short-sighted. In January 2010, the emails began arriving. Bruce Hale (www.brucehale.com) wrote first, and then Suzy Kline (www.suzykline.com), Debbie Dadey (www.debbiedadey.com). Soon Nancy Castaldo (www.nancycastaldo.com) and Barbara Gowan (www.barbaragowan.com) sent confirmations and our small but mighty A4ED team was on our way to success. I was rapt with joy!
In 2010, I spent the day at Rhodes Junior High in Mesa, Arizona—an elaborate and exciting Earth Day celebration!—while my teammates held similar school visits from California to New York. Together we contributed over $5500 for conservation!
Since then, our coalition has contributed over $44,000 and we now have over 100 available authors and illustrators in five countries! And now our program runs year-round. Please visit the official A4ED website at www.authorsforearthday.org to find an available author in your state. If you are interested in hosting my A4ED school visit, drop me an email and I'll happily explain the process.
Let’s keep working together to foster literacy and to remind students about the beauty and importance of the natural world.
“You showed us that every day should be Earth Day. And you showed us all ways to protect the planet.”