Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

My Top Six Earthshaking Earth Day Stories of 2013


Green Medicine of the Year: Healing Plants

Going outside for a spring stroll? Watch where you step! That dandelion you're walking on has a distinguished medicinal history dating back centuries. Why not increase your appreciation of nature by learning about the amazing healing properties of plants and how many of our medicines, such as aspirin, originated from plants.

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places

The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants

Bug of The Year: 17-Year Cicadas

Get ready for the unearthly whine of millions of cicadas, who will be emerging from their underground burrows in wooded areas in New York City and the rest of the eastern United States from mid-May through the end of June, after 17 years as larvae underground. They may not look very charming, but they are harmless and fascinating. Here are some books and resources to prepare yourself for the onslaught.

For children: Cicadas! Strange and Wonderful

For adults: Log into EBSCOHost with your library card for "Jamming Cicadas" by Peter J. Marchand in the June 2002 issue of Natural History.

Green Energy Giant of the Year: Bayonne Windmill

Years ago, when I looked north from Staten Island, across the Kill Van Kull to Bayonne in New Jersey, I viewed an interesting, but low-lying landscape of warehouses and shipyards. Now I see this:

Bayonne Windmill KVK jehBy Jim.henderson (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Is it just me, or are windmills popping up all over the place? At least they are on the New Jersey Turnpike! It shouldn't be surprising, since clean wind energy is on the upswing. There are even suggestions to put a wind farm on the former Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island.

Windmill pros and cons? Try Wind Power, a book for young adults.

Re-User of the Year: The New York Public Library

The most eco-friendly way to read books is to borrow one and pass on to someone else. So please use the library, it’s green! By the way, e-books come in a close second in this regard. Check out this article describing the environmental effects of the ways that we read: 

"Should You Ditch Your Books for an E-Reader? The environmental credentials of the iPad and Kindle," by Brian Palmer. Slate, April 24, 2010.

Place of the Year: New York Parks

A photo says it all:

High Rock ParkHigh Rock Park by andy in nyc, on Flickr

And here are some New York Park books and resources:

Here is a book about High Rock Park on Staten Island, where the photo above was taken: High Rock and The Greenbelt: The Making of New York City's Largest Park.

And one about New York City nature: Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City.

Green People of the Year: Kids Playing Outside in Nature

I find it very heartening, in these days of video games and home entertainment systems, to witness kids having a great old time being fascinated and enthused by bugs, mushrooms, trees and seeds. A park and a green spot in every neighborhood within walking distance, I say!

Want to know just how important it is to connect children with nature? Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder

Kids love to see just what lives on, in and under trees. Here's a book to guide them in their tree-watching adventures: One Small Place in A Tree

I find these stories inspiring, hopefully you do too. Have a beautiful Earth Day.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Post new comment