A Deep Dive into All Things Water for Kids

Kids explore one of Earth’s most precious resources in this delightful new publication from Barefoot Books. Tales by international storytellers are sprinkled through the book, highlighting the variety of ways in which global cultures value water.



Sacred stories intermingle with hard science in
Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery

Kids explore one of Earth’s most precious resources in this delightful new publication from Barefoot Books. Tales by international storytellers are sprinkled through the book, highlighting the variety of ways in which global cultures value water. Author Christy Mihaly, an environmental advocate and expert, provides comprehensive science content along with specific ways kids can be good stewards of our planet. Library Journal corresponded with Mihaly and editorial director Emma Parkin to learn more about this unique collaboration

How did you develop the concept for Water?

Emma Parkin: The idea of a book about water came from Barefoot Books CEO Nancy Traversy and evolved through many conversations. We wanted to use water as the lens through which to view important issues including how to protect our fragile planet. Once we starting teasing out different themes to explore, there was almost too much to fit into one book!

How did you assemble the storytellers?

EP:  As an editorial team, we looked through our contacts dating back over many years. We then plotted them on a world map to do our very best to achieve global representation – or at least as best you can do with eight stories. We were particularly pleased to be able to feature a story from Vanuatu, a rare thing in children’s publishing.

What common threads do you see in the stories?

EP:  I think the idea of just how precious water really is comes through as the strongest theme. Whether it’s the plants discussing their need for water in Zimbabwe or the drought in Peru, we see throughout virtually all the stories why water is valued and needed throughout the world.

Would you please describe your collaborative process with Christy Mihaly?

EP: Christy was an absolute delight to work with. We established a rough outline of the topics we wanted to cover and she came back with fabulously detailed text. It was definitely a
very collaborative process as we found the right level of complexity for our target audience and fitted this text around Mariona Cabassa’s wonderful illustrations.

How do sacred stories and scientific data impact children differently?

Christy Mahaly: Many people working in nature education use indigenous and sacred stories in their work with kids. These stories are effective because they speak to our hearts. We think of science as speaking more to our minds. But data, or facts, don't have to be dull or dry. I try to communicate science facts to kids in ways that capture their imaginations as strongly as a well-told tale.

How much water do fog collectors collect?

CM: Oh, aren't fog collectors cool? Archaeologists have found evidence that ancient people in desert areas used condensation to get water from dew or fog in the air, often using stones. Most modern fog collectors are made of a mesh net. Depending on its size and the weather conditions, a fog collector typically can capture 200 to 1,000 liters per day (that's 53 to 264 gallons). A project in Morocco initiated in 2016 was producing 6,000 liters/1585 gallons per day. One project in Chile grew until its peak production was 100,000 liters per day.

Was water a focus of your academic career?

CM: I was interested in both environmental science and the policy questions around environmental protection. In college I took policy studies with an emphasis on environmental studies. I also took an environmental law class as an undergrad, and that's when I knew that I wanted to go into environmental law.

In law school, I took a course in Water Law, and learned how an entire system of legal concepts has grown up around the use—and right to use—this precious resource. I also read John Nichols's amazing novel, The Milagro Beanfield War, which involves a conflict around use of traditional community irrigation ditches. Again, I was struck by how closely water is connected to community values and cultural norms, as well as being necessary to life itself. Around the world, we have to figure out how to live with less water and to distribute what we've got equitably.

In what section should a librarian put your book?

CMWater might be shelved with picture books, or natural science, or multicultural stories, or nonfiction. Or it could go in a section on social issues and social activism. Better yet—maybe libraries should purchase multiple copies and shelve them in all the places!

Learn more about Barefoot Books Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery

Explore Barefoot Books' Planet Protector Resources



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