Published by little bee books
Summary: Sam is in class drawing a picture of her favorite Santa Barbara beach when the principal walks in and whispers something to her teacher. She finds out the news at home when her parents tell her about the oil spill that’s polluting her beloved beach. As the oil starts to wash ashore, Sam feels sad, then angry, as she watches her parents and other volunteers try to clean up the damage. She and her friends fill bottles with the oil and mail them to politicians. News coverage increases, and several months later, U.S Senator and environmental activist Gaylord Nelson visits the beach, inspiring him to organize the first Earth Day. On April 22, 1970, people around the world celebrated, protested, and taught about the environment, beginning a movement that continues today. Includes an authors’ note, a bibliography, a timeline, additional information about Earth Day, and a list of ten ways to become an environmental activist. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Pros: An excellent read-aloud for Earth Day. The perspective of the fictional Sam brings this true story to life for kids, and the additional information gives them concrete actions to take for the environment.
Cons: Showing the damage wrought by the oil company, then urging kids to take shorter showers and turn off the lights feels like misplaced responsibility.
One thought on “Black Beach: A Community, an Oil Spill, and the Origin of Earth Day by Shaunna and John Stith, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga”
In response to your con for this book, we are all responsible for using oil, so when we use less energy, the need for fossil fuels is lower. But, I agree with you that there are better ways to approach this, such as highlighting the need for better regulations and oversight and supporting child/student activism to accomplish those goals.