"What is wild? And where can you find it?" These are the first lines of the wonderfully illustrated picture book Finding Wild, a multi-sensory adventure into the idea of wild. I love this book for how it entices kids to find wild in every place, in the woods as well as on city streets. Luckily for Eco-novice readers, the author Megan Wagner Lloyd is an old friend of mine (and long-time fellow greenie), who has actually written a post and many a comment on this very blog! So of course I asked her to do a Q & A with me about her fantastic debut picture book.
Q & A with Megan Wagner Lloyd on Finding Wild
I love how your picture book Finding Wild explores the diversity of nature and the range of sensory experiences nature offers. What are your favorite wild places to explore with your family?
I find that time outdoors with kids is almost always more fun with water, so when we're going on a family adventure, I try to make sure water play is involved somehow, whether it's going to the beach, swimming in a lake, wading in a river, or going on a hike that includes splashing in a creek. (And of course snow is great, too!)
What other books and storybooks do you suggest for helping awaken in kids a curiosity about and awareness of the natural world?
So many to choose from! I'll just have to name a few of my favorites, since I could go on and on:
- Elsa Beskow's books
- OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
- THE CURIOUS GARDEN by Peter Brown
- PLANTING A RAINBOW by Lois Ehlert
- A TREE IS NICE by Janice May Udry
- YOU ARE STARDUST by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim
- SONYA'S CHICKENS by Phoebe Wahl (Phoebe's also illustrating my third book!)
- AND THEN IT'S SPRING by Julie Fogliano and Erin E. Stead.
- COYOTE MOON by Maria Gianferrari and Bagram Ibatoulline (Maria is an awesome writing friend of mine!)
The book Finding Wild ends with a message about how nature is really everywhere, even in built-up human environs like big cities! How do you keep your kids connected to nature while living in the cities/ suburbs?
I love doing simple things like going for a walk or going to the neighborhood park, and really taking the time to slow down and notice the details in the trees, the flowers, the sky...
Last winter we hung a bird feeder--it was so fun to look out the window and watch the birds, especially when it was too cold to play outside. I find it's hard to get outside as much as I'd like during the school year, particularly living somewhere with a cold winter. So I try to make sure we do a lot of outdoorsy things in the summer, especially when we're traveling visiting family and have the chance to go to National Parks and spend a lot of time outside.
What inspired you to write Finding Wild?
I loved spending time outside as a kid, so I've always wanted my kids to experience that same joy in the outdoors. When they were little, I read LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS by Richard Louv, which had a big impact on me and made me even more committed to help my kids develop strong connections to nature. So, I had all of that in the background, and I'm sure that influenced me subconsciously, but when I sat down and wrote FINDING WILD, I wasn't setting out to write something that would help kids appreciate nature--I was just intrigued by the concept of "wild" and I wanted to explore it and celebrate it.
What are some of your favorite ways to leave a lighter footprint?
The biggest thing I try to do is to not be wasteful--with food, with electronics, and with purchases in general. I'm nowhere near perfect, but I'm always trying.
With food, I try to come up with one or two dinners after it seems like there's absolutely nothing left to make dinner with--that way I end up using up odds and ends instead of forgetting about them. With electronics, I try to make them last way longer than is normal in our society. For example, I've had my laptop for ten years. I've thought of upgrading it many times, but why waste the resources when it does what I need it to do? For a lot of our purchases, we try to buy used. Luckily for us, we have been the recipients of a lot of hand-me-down clothes throughout the years. And when we need to buy furniture or other big purchases like that, we almost always buy from Craigslist.
What literary projects are you working on now?
I'm always working on lots of projects! Right now I have many picture books at various stages of drafting and revising and I'm working on two super-secret novels (drafting one and revising one).
I have three more picture books coming out in the next couple of years: A FORT-BUILDING TIME, illustrated by Abigial Halpin, in fall of 2017. PAPER MICE, illustrated by Phoebe Wahl, in Spring 2018, and THE ABCS OF CATCHING ZZZS is also upcoming (illustrator and release date TBA).
OK, Readers, where do you find wild?
- Games that Teach Kids about the Natural World
- Gifts that Encourage a Child's Sense of Wonder About Nature
- 15 Favorite Children's Christmas Books
- 5 Green Guides Worth Reading
- 30 Ways to Enjoy 30 Minutes in Nature with Your Kids
- How to Get Your Kids to Play Outside
- Citizen Science: 14 Ways Your Family Can Explore and Document Wildlife in Your Own Backyard
- From Tech-Lover to Nature-Lover: Using Technology to Connect Kids with Nature