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The Earth and I

Last updated Monday, April 4, 2005

Author: Frank Asch
Date of Publication: 1994
ISBN: 0152016791
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2005

Synopsis: From Publishers Weekly "The Earth and I are friends," begins this sentimental picture book in which a boy inventories the many ways he and the planet benefit and enjoy each other. Examples both obvious ("I help her to grow. She helps me to grow" accompanies pictures of the boy tilling soil, then eating food) and inspired ("I dance for her. She dances for me" is paired with the boy raking leaves, then the leaves being blown about by a gust of wind) give way to the book's ultimate "green" message: "When she's sad, I'm sad" captions a view of a scrap heap. The simple text is consistent with Asch's repertoire of very young picture books (Happy Birthday, Moon; Bear Shadow), but it lacks the humor that have made the others preschool classics. He paints a dreamscape of liquidy watercolors, with blues, purples, greens and reds bleeding together in a wash of rainbows that cover both the boy and the earth: hair, clothes, leaves, clouds are each multicolored. Jaded adults may have to stifle a laugh at the final, feel-good illustration, which features the narrator hugging a tree. Ages 3-7.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do a picture walk. What do you think is happening on each page? What is the boy?s name? Pick out the animals represented in the book and imitate them.
•  What do you do with your friends? Make a list on the board. Can you be friends with things that aren?t people? What does friendship mean?
•  What is ?the earth?? What kinds of things do we do on earth? (Act them out--walk, sing, dance ... )
•  What is your favorite kind of weather?
•  Vocabulary: turtle, rain, lightning, umbrella, rainbow, backyard, dance, leaf, trash, deer, stars, moon.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why is the boy sad when he sees trash on the ground? What makes the Earth sad? How can we make the Earth happy?
•  Do you ever see trash on the ground? What do you do about it?
•  As you read, identify the natural (trees, raindrops, rivers) and the man-made (house, bowl, rake).
•  What kind of noises does nature make? Make them together.
•  What do we eat that comes from the Earth?
•  What does the Earth do for the boy? What does the boy do for the Earth?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a button (volunteers: write ?the earth and I are friends? on it) and draw your friendship.
•  Make an ?Earth Day? Poster, with pictures of a Happy Earth.

Special activities:
•  Play Simon Says with the lines in the book, and do the actions the boy does (or, re-enact the book).

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!