Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Top Five Books on Natural Resources

Click on the title for each book to see book cover and more details.


Title: The Beeman
Author:  Laurie Krebs
Illustrator:  Valeria Cis
Publisher:  Barefoot Books
ISBN:  978-1-84686-146-8
Year:  2008
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.3

Concepts:  natural resources, human resources, jobs

Review: A young boy values the company of his grandfather, a beekeeper who teaches the boy the tools of the trade.  After the boy and his grandfather both suit up in protective clothing, they quiet the bees with a smoker and open the hive to examine the queen bee, the drones, and the worker bees.  Next they remove the honeycomb and use a special machine to extract the honey from the frames. Most of the honey is jarred for later enjoyment, and the remaining honey is returned to the hive as food for the bees during the winter. 

This exceptional book blends together a number of informative lessons in economics with an interesting story and lively artwork that will appeal to children and adults alike. What better way to spice up a discussion of jobs and human resources than to use this book about an occupation that appears to be, at least to kids, fairly unusual and slightly dangerous. In the back, the muffin recipe and the author’s notes about honey help to reinforce the book’s lessons about natural resources. Children may leave this book wondering if the tasty honey is worth the risk of getting stung by all those bees.

Review by:
  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title:  Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai
Author and Illustrator:  Claire A. Nivola
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN:  0-374-39918-2
Year:  2008
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 5.9

Concepts:  human resources, natural resources, scarcity, economics and gender, interdependence

Review:  As a child growing up on a farm in Kenya’s Central Highlands, Wangari Maathai delighted in the beauty of the fig, olive, and flame trees that graced the landscape, and she valued the clear water of the stream that flowed near her home.  Sadly, these conditions changed for the worse in just a very short time while Wangari attended college in the United States.  Distressed to return home to deforestation, soil erosion, dirty water, and a worsening in people’s well-being, Wangari resolved to become a part of the solution.  Her simple but powerful idea to start planting trees grew into a national movement that ultimately led to over forty million new trees planted in Kenya. Wangari’s activist efforts included educating women, men, and children about why it was so important to their livelihood to plant tree seedlings.  In 2004 she won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first African woman to receive this honor.

Children and adults alike will appreciate this book for its powerful message, rich illustrations, and informative author’s note.  Numerous economics ideas are woven into the text, with particular emphasis on the consequences of scarcity, the replenishment of natural resources, and the strengthening of women’s autonomy.  Despite the weighty topic, the tone is gentle.  Children will unwittingly gain an important lesson in environmental activism while they enjoy an interesting story.

Review by:
  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title: Yetsa's Sweater
Author: Sylvia Olsen
Illustrator:  Joan Larson
Publisher: Sono Nis Press
ISBN: 1-55039-155-8
Year: 2006
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  4.6

Concepts: natural resources, human resources

Summary: Children who wonder how wool gets from the sheep into the sweater will find their answers here. A grandmother and her granddaughter participate in a 100-year-old tradition that represents a blending of the knitting skills of Scottish immigrants and the woolworking talents of the Cowichan tribe, according to an author's note. Realistic outdoor compositions portray three generations pulling debris (including sheep dung) from the fiber, washing and stirring it in enormous pots, and then wringing and hanging the heavy strands to dry. The processes of teasing, carding, and spinning lead up to a scene of Grandma knitting the gray, white, and black yarns into the patterns, rich in symbolism, that adorn her loved one's sweater.

Source of Summary: School Library Journal

How to Get This Book

Title:  Tuttle's Red Barn: The Story of America's Oldest Family Farm
Author:   Richard Michelson
Illustrator:  Mary Azarian
Publisher:   G.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN:   978-0-399-24354-7
Year:  2007
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.8

Concepts:  Human resources, natural resources, entrepreneurs, economic history

Review:  This interesting and informative book traces the development of today's oldest continuing family farm in the United States.  The story begins with John Tuttle, who left England for the "New England" in 1632 and settled in Dover, New Hampshire.   At the time, Dover consisted of about twenty cabins, the largest settlement in New Hampshire.  John built his own cabin on the same land where the Tuttle farm stands today. 

The next eleven generations of children and their children remained on this farm, cultivating the land, raising livestock, and selling farm products.  Over the years, the small cabin was rebuilt into a larger farmhouse with a barn.  Later, the family transformed the barn into a farm store that sold fresh fruits and vegetables, hand-spun wool, hand-dipped candles, home-made butter, and fresh maple syrup.  Today this farm store is a 9,000 square foot building with an adjacent nursery that serves more than 1000 customers every day.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title: The Lorax
Author and Illustrator: Dr. Seuss
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 0-329-04448-6
Year: 1971
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  3.1

Concepts: natural resources, choices, scarcity

Summary: The Once-ler describes the results of the local pollution problem.

Source of Summary: Publisher

How to Get This Book