Help Your Kids Learn about Protecting Water with these Fun and Colorful Books

Winter has arrived! What a great time of year to huddle with your kids, break out the hot chocolate and grab a few books to read. Some fun new additions to the Anoka County Library’s collection include several children’s books about water, purchased through a partnership between the library and the MWMO.

Last spring, the MWMO awarded the library a Stewardship Fund Mini Grant to purchase water-themed children’s books and to hold a pair of family-friendly events to roll them out.

Children's books about water, purchased by the Anoka County Library with an MWMO Mini Grant.
Children’s books about water, purchased by the Anoka County Library with an MWMO Mini Grant. The books can be checked out through the Anoka County Library system as well as the Columbia Heights Library.

Librarians recognized that when children understand the importance of keeping lakes, rivers and streams clean, they can become some of water’s greatest champions. The grant provided an opportunity to build youth knowledge about water and how to protect or improve it. Events held at the Mississippi Library branch site and the Columbia Heights Library introduced the new books to kids and their families, and paired fun activities to teach them about water, how plants need clean water, and that polluted water hurts fish and other creatures humans rely on.

Book titles were chosen for juvenile audiences, with most of the selections appealing to toddlers through age 15. Librarians selected books with water themes that would be most meaningful to young people. For example, youngsters can learn about things to do with water, how important water is to humans around the world, about nature’s water cycle and even about stormwater and wastewater systems. Several of the books show youth how they can protect water bodies with just a little adult assistance.

Water conservation is an important theme in several of the books, like 10 Things You Can Do to Save Water (also offered in Spanish). When kids (and adults) use less water around the house, they are preserving freshwater resources for us all. Easy actions include turning off the tap water while brushing teeth or scrubbing dishes prior to rinsing and taking shorter, less luxurious showers.

All the Way to the Ocean, Watch Over Our Water, and Enough Water? show youth how their actions can actually stop water pollution. Information in these books lines up with what the MWMO shares with children and their families at our outreach events. For example, youth can help re-use rain (from rainbarrels), join community clean ups, clear trash, leaves and sediment from storm drains, help plant rain gardens, rake up leaves to keep them out of streets and clean up after the family dog. These actions stop pollutants from entering storm drains in our streets and flowing directly into lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and the ocean without being filtered first.

You can find the full list of the books and their contents at the Anoka County Library website. (Hint: You can type “mwmogrant” in the search bar and hit enter to see these titles.) You can also use the library’s search tools to find other water-themed books. The tool bar on the left-hand side of their catalog page helps you find additional titles, topics, and authors, as well as books for particular audience ages.

A librarian (lower right) prepares an exercise teaching children about water quality at one of the Mini Grant events.
A librarian (lower right) prepares an exercise teaching children about water quality at one of the Anoka County Library Mini Grant events.

Teaching Kids about Water Quality through Reading and Fun

During the events held earlier this spring, librarians read stories about water and led activities that helped children and families learn about the need to keep rivers and lakes clean, why we should conserve water, how to prevent water pollution, and how rain or stormwater can be re-used for purposes like gardening or watering trees and grass.

Children use a simulated watershed to learn how stormwater runoff carries pollution into waterways.
Children use a simulated watershed to learn how stormwater runoff carries pollution into waterways.

MWMO staff also shared a picture “book” about our organization’s work, how families can partner with us to preserve and protect waterbodies, and about jobs in the field of water protection that might interest kids as they grow up.

At the Mississippi Library, youth also participated in a hands-on demonstration of how stormwater (rain and melting snow) flows across land, directly carrying pollutants to lakes and rivers through the storm drain system. Just as importantly, they learned that we can prevent this from happening by doing things like picking up trash, planting native plants, picking up pets’ waste, and through other actions.

The close proximity of this library to the Mississippi River helped remind us of the need to step up and take regular actions to capture stormwater and use it in positive ways instead of letting it carry pollution through storm drains to the river. Some of the children at this event had recently participated in Stevenson Elementary School’s “Outdoor Learning on the Riverfront” project to protect pollinators and habitat, so they were excited to think through this topic in a different way.

The new Columbia Heights Library site was a great place to hold the “Family STEAM Night: Water” event, as their location hosts several landscape features that prevent stormwater pollution. These include systems that melt ice on walkways to reduce the need for polluting deicers, along with trees and rain gardens that filter stormwater before it enters the storm drain pipes under local streets.

In spite of the cold, this is a great time of year to think about water since we get to experience it in so many forms—mist, rain, ice, slush and snow! It can’t hurt to think a few warm thoughts while exploring this life-sustaining force.

Pledges made by children to save water at home.
Pledges made by children to save water at home.

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