Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd this year and The Earth Day Network is encouraging everyone to complete A Billions Acts of Green. I started by giving myself a reality check. I read scary novels of compromised economies and ecological disasters that changed the way everyone lived. Nothing was more goosebump inducing than Gemma Malley’s The Declaration, or so I thought because I also read the sequel, The Resistance. I don’t know what scares me more, the idea of being a ‘surplus’ child made to be a servant of the state or the idea that to know how it all ends I’ll have to read The Legacy, Malley’s final installment. Another frightening novel that I could not stop reading over and over was L.J. Adlington’s The Diary of Pelly D., an ALA Best Books for Youngs Adults 2006 pick. I do not want to ruin the ending but if you like a conclusion that sneaks up and smacks you in the face, The Diary of Pelly D can be quite shocking. One of the truly baffling aspects of the story is how everything changes, Pelly’s home, clothes and even friends undergo a massive overhaul when the government starts genetically testing the population. At first the results seem like a popularity contest until people start disappearing.
For more suggestions of books to get you in a fighting spirit check out the 2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. The booklist Change Your World or Live to Regret It provides lots of motivating titles that challenge “You say you want a revolution? Teens, take the world into your hands with books about politics, environmentalism and activism. The revolution starts now.” Books like Schooled by Gordon Korman will motivate you to stand up for change. A scapegoat for bullies, Cap, a homeschooled student is experiencing public education for the first time. Cap maintains a positive attitude toward helping others, even if he has to spend school resources to do it. His mission to learn the names of all the students in his school also makes him a great leader and makes this story a real inspiration. If you still aren’t ready to save the world, try more harrowing novels like The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd (YALSA Popular Paperbacks 2011) or Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2007 Teens’ Top Ten).
Ok, so now you are all revved up but where do you begin? There are some things you can’t control. It would be cool if you could make your parents buy you an electric car but in case they don’t here are some thrifty ideas to make the Earth a little cleaner. You can find low or no cost ideas in True Green Kids : 100 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin and Generation Green : the Ultimate Teen Guide to Living an Eco-Friendly Life by Linda Sivertsen and Tosh Sivertsen.
If you want to know how green you are you can take Tosh’s Green Challenge online. This quiz is just one of the many great suggestions in Generation Green . I took the quiz and here is the result. “Okay, so you’re not so typical… you put your love for your mama (earth) into action. Good job! But there’s still lots of room for improvement. Use the ideas in Generation Green, the book, as inspiration to further green up your days. Then come back and re-test yourself (and show your friends too!) to track your progress.” Looks like I have some work to do.
Other ways to help are to volunteer in your community; all you need is time so don’t worry if you have a small allowance or don’t have a job. I have worked at a food pantry, picked up trash on the side of the road and planted flowers to help improve my hometown. Check your local newspaper for organizations that look for community helpers. Especially around Earth Day you may be able to find a city wide cleanup to participate in. Follow YALSA’s Wiki page to learn more about Teen Volunteering and Service Projects.
Laura C Perenic is reading The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults).
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