by Martha F. Barkley
There are so many children's books, but for this summer 2021, let's consider books about trees to supplement our community read for adults, The Overstory, by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Powers. Powers recognizes the fine German forest expert Peter Wohlleben who wrote The Hidden Life of Trees.
Peter has written two simplified versions of his international bestseller for kids. One is in our library checked out all the time, while the second children's book I found at Bull Moose in Waterville. The two titles for you to look for your younger readers are Peter and the Tree Children and Can You Hear the Trees Talking?
Yes, both books fascinate children and adults as well because both books have so much science revealed that we wonder why we never learned these astounding facts about trees in school.
I loved opening my huge illustrated Hidden Life of Trees and finding Peter, the author, reclined in the ancient base of an old-growth tree with roots propping his arms on both sides like a fitted sofa. Of course his eyes are wide open looking above at the glorious crown of the very mature beech tree and his fingers are resting on the moss covered raised root. I gave this book of photos to our Belgrade Public Library if you want to view the photos of trees within.
Now, to the kids versions of The Hidden Life of Trees, a New York Times bestseller:
Can You Hear the Trees Talking? is good read aloud for non readers, because every page is well illustrated. Curious kids will wonder about every photo as you read the science.
In the chapter with the same title, "Can You Hear the Trees Talking," the scientist tells children to dig down in the forest to where it is cool and humid under the dead leaves: "This is where the forest internet begins. Those thin, white strands that crisscross over each other are the cables that the trees use to send messages. Don't worry if you pull out a few fungal threads the forest Internet won't crash."
That small passage read to your young ones will probably encourage you to close the book and go outside to dig in the ground. Peter has many easy activities for you to do with your children, so wash your hands and go back to this very well illustrated book all about trees.
An easier level book is Peter and the Tree Children, but it too has more science for younger kids. Peter leads children into the forest to find tree families. Yes, parent trees looking over their seedling trees. I have always enjoyed reading children's books because sometimes they are better and clearer than our adult reads.
I'm hoping you will sneak a peak at some of Peter's extraordinary writings for our youth. You may learn just as much from these books as our community read by Richard Powers, The Overstory, or the science in The Hidden Life of Trees by world renowned Peter Wohlleben.
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