With the pandemic still going strong, outdoor activities are at the forefront and a local children’s book author, Erin Alladin has debuted a timely picture book about healthy, active outdoor play.
"Outside, You Notice It" captures children’s natural inquisitiveness and has been published in time for Earth Day celebrations. It answers many questions you may have wondered about, but never go the answer to.
A press release states the book, "invites young scientists and daydreamers to look closely and think deeply. It celebrates every kind of outdoor setting—from gardens to forest walks to cracks in the sidewalk. A timely book for these pandemic days when everyone is anxious to get outdoors, it pairs a meditative thread of child-like observations (How after the rain / Everything smells greener) with intriguing facts about the habits and habitats of animals, insects, birds, and plants (A tree’s roots reach as wide as its branches)."
Alladin told BayToday that the inspiration for the book comes from an emphasis on "mindfulness practices" in kids and getting them outside.
"I realized that the way to teach mindfulness is through the sensory information you are getting. What you see, hear, taste, smell, and when I spent time outside as a kid that's exactly what I was doing, observing a chickadee, a chipmunk, a fox, or a flower in the grass....smelling things and hearing them. That's how all kids learn about the world."
So she set about preparing the book as a tool to get kids and adults to realize that this is an important way of learning, and that involved a lot of research.
As an example, why does rain smell the way it does?
"All of the things I felt I kind of knew," she explained, "but went and checked from at least two sources before I put them into the book.
"I think spending the last 10 to 15 years doing a lot of reading into gardening and permaculture and the whole ecosystem, focused on stuff just as a passion, so I've been kind of collecting facts that surprise and delight me all that time, and this is how I used them in the picture book."
Alladin's full-time job is editing children's books, so she's had lots of experience to draw on, but it's always been someone else's work. This is her first attempt at going it alone.
She grew up in North Bay and Corbeil with a gardener mother who encouraged her endless curiosity about the names of trees and the uses of wildflowers. She attended Chippewa Secondary and Nipissing University. Today Erin lives in McKellar, near Parry Sound, and works as a freelance writer and editor.
"My whole childhood led up to writing the book. Dad was a forester with the MNR in North Bay and my mom was a teacher at Trussler and so I've always had a strong influence of nature and of literacy in my day-to-day life, and this is where it came together."
She says her favourite part of the book is about seed spread.
"Children are at a community garden, and the text says that seeds dropped into your hand are the tiniest and most important things in the world because that's really how I feel. I ran a community garden and I taught seed-starting workshops and the experience of giving people these tiny, tiny seeds and promising them that 'yes this is going to grow into such a large plant' and it has all the information in this tiny package, it's just so exciting to me and I look forward every year being able to start planting seeds."
Reaction to her 32-page effort so far has been "great" she says
"In a normal year, I would hope it would end up in a lot of classrooms. I've had a lot of people say 'I can't wait to share this with my kids.'"
Learn more about Outside, You Notice here.
Her favourite project is her blog, EarthUndaunted.com, where she writes about applying regenerative agriculture on a home scale.
Outside, You Notice, is Illustrated by Andrea Blinick and published by Pajama Press, ISBN: 978-1-77278-193-9, Price: $22.95.