barefootbookFor a child to understand their own connections to the Earth as well as the commonalities between themselves and other children around the world is a priceless gift. This can help children to understand the importance of Earth, its care, and can have a lasting effect on any child. The tradition of oral storytelling, which has been practiced for thousands of years, can act as a connection between children all around the world and their Earth. The tradition continues to grow and change and the book, The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales written by Dawn Casey and Anne Wilson, commits these traditional oral stories to print. Each story is connected in some way and all celebrate the beauty of nature and remind us of the importance of Earth.

There are also some unique characteristics to this book that make it special. Prior to each folk tale, there is a brief history of where the story originated from, and how it has sustained its popularity. Additionally, after each folk tale there is an activity that has some sort of connection to the story or the history of the region from which the story came from. Some examples of activities are how to build a willow den, how to make a pinecone birdfeeder, how to make a song-line painting, and how to make a cornhusk doll. Directions for all activities are simple, materials are inexpensive, and all can be completed in less than an hour.

The book is compiled of seven separate stories that have come from many different parts of the world; the story of “The Sun Mother” originated in Australia, “Why the Sky is Far Away” came from Nigeria, “She Who is Alone” was born in the American Southwest, “Grumpy Gecko” started in Bali, “The Magic Garden” originated in Kazakhstan, “Amrita’s Tree” began in India, and lastly “Stink Water” was came from Wales. Each story, while unique in its own right, really illustrates the common theme of each individual’s connection to Earth. The stories are creative and can be interesting to both children and adults.

Without giving any content of the stories away, I must say that, after reviewing hundreds of books for the Green Sanctuary Program in the past few months, this is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable “green” books I have read. In fact, as I continue to review new books and gain a deeper understanding of what it is to be “green” in today’s world, I often find myself referring back to this book in conversation with family and friends. This book has helped me to form my own personal concept and understanding of what being connected to Earth means and has helped me to understand the real importance of and beauty of the Earth.

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