When you picture a middle schooler, or tween, what do you see? A lanky kid with braces on an iPad? Awkward middle school years? What if you pictured a kid dirty with mud and emerging from the forest instead?
Research tells us that kids who spend time in nature suffer less anxiety, have better health, longer attention spans and the ability to cope with the challenges of the middle school years. Yet, we often associate the early adolescence with decreases in time outside and less interaction with nature.
In my new book for middle school readers, The Order of the Trees, the characters discover their friendship and the power of the forest in their lives. The book will be published on May 15 (preorders are available now) by Green Writers Press, this book is one way to excite and inspire middle school students to think about their local natural areas and how they can experience them with friends.
The main character, Cedar, was found as a baby deep in the Vermont woods. We flash forward to her sixth grade year and she couldn’t be more different than the other kids. She finds her first true friend and shares her forest home with him. He quickly discovers her secret and has to race to find a plan to save their sacred woods.
It is my hope that middle school students and their parents will find this book inspiring to use their passions, interests and creativity to seek out and preserve the magic found in our local woodlands, ponds, streams and habitats. Tweens can be and do so much more than the stereotype allows. Put down that iPad, smart phone or tablet and head into the woods or your neighborhood park. You never know what you might find there.
Do you have a child in grades 4-8 in your life? The Order of the Trees was written just for this age group. Starting on May 1 and running through May 7, I’m giving away three copies of the book on Goodreads, so be sure to enter to win a copy. The Vermont-based publisher, Green Writers Press, focuses on giving voice to writers who want to make the world a better place. Ask for it at your local, independent bookstore or you can find it on Amazon.
Katy Farber is a teacher, author and founder of the blog, Non-Toxic Kids. She is also the author of two other books about education: Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus and Change the World with Service Learning.