Right in time for World Rivers Day (September 25, 2022), let’s jump in with wonderful example of picture book nonfiction, A River’s Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn by Patricia Newman and illustrated by Natasha Donovan.
Running through the book is the story of the Elwha River, which courses from Olympic National Park to the ocean in Washington state. Centuries ago several varieties of salmon and trout swam up the river to have their young. Then in the early 1900s people dammed the river, blocking the salmon from swimming upstream and flooding the landscape. The salmon numbers dwindled and wildlife disappeared. But the dams fell into disrepair and members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and others persistently advocated to get them removed. Finally, in 1992, Congress passed The Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act, allowing for the dams to be demolished. Since that time, the river has made strides towards recovery.
In addition to the uplifting story of the restoration of the river and the salmon, plus the wildlife and people that rely on them, Patricia Newman packs the book with STEM. Young readers will learn about river vocabulary words like headwaters, channels, riverbanks, etc. Do you know what an alevin is? Find out in the wonderful illustration of the life cycle of salmon. Learn about the workings of a hydroelectric dam and how the dams were removed. Explore how important salmon are to ecosystems through food webs. See examples of wildlife and other kinds of fish found in and around the river. This book is jam-packed with all the fascinating information needed to truly understand the impact of the main story.
Natasha Donovan’s illustrations (website) are the water that keep it all flowing. In the note in the back matter, she explains that she grew up on the West Coast and had a wealth of sensory experiences to draw on for her work.
A River’s Gifts is one of those special books that fit into many different lessons: geography, history, science, technology (dams), nature, ecology, art, and literature, to name a few. Essential for American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, Earth Day, and of course, World River’s Day, readers will return to it again and again. Invest in a copy today!
- Find out more about the book and download a Teacher Guide at Patricia Newman’s website.
- Check out the river-related books and activity suggestions at STEM Tuesday
- LitLinks activity: Write a persuasive poem through the eyes of a salmon.
The book trailer is lovely.
Reading age : 8 – 12 years
Publisher : Millbrook Press ™ (September 6, 2022)
ISBN-10 : 1541598709
ISBN-13 : 978-1541598706
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