Books, Butterflies and Mexico
Every year Monarchs Across Georgia, an environmental organization, takes a group of teachers to visit a K-8 school in Cerro Pelon, located in central Mexico, to deliver children’s books written in Spanish. The school, located near a protected monarch butterfly preserve, has no library, computers, or technology other than one overhead projector. Instead, they have two teachers and only a few shelves of books, including their teaching materials, for almost 80 students. Their only “library” consists of two sets of encyclopedias.
Last week I was part of a fortunate group that visited this school. We brought a box of children’s books written in Spanish that was ordered from Follett and mailed to Mexico. Shipping charges and customs fees limited the money we had to spend, so there were not enough books for every child to get one. The children shared the books with great excitement all reading aloud to one another at the same time. These books meant so much to them, just as books mean so much to children everywhere.
We can all recall our favorite books from childhood. Perhaps the best children’s authors differ from others in their ability to recall their childhoods and learn from children as adults as well. Children take a special delight in feeling snug with bedtime stories, experiencing delicious thrills in scary books, being enthralled by a soaring Superman or Peter Pan, talking animals, and small creatures (like themselves) in A Bug’s Life or The Secret of NIMH.
Why does Monarchs Across Georgia, a group dedicated to providing habitats and educating the public concerning the importance of pollinators, visit a school in Mexico to bring children’s literature? They want to support the area that protects the butterfly preserve. Part of their mission, too, is to educate teachers on the importance of having pollinator gardens in schools and home gardens to maintain our declining pollinator population. Georgia is also part of the flight path for monarch butterflies migrating to and from Mexico every year from Canada to central Mexico (their winter roosting home). After the teachers see the butterfly preserves and surrounding area, they can then pass on their knowledge to their students.
This special tour is geared for teachers and those interested in the protection of the beautiful butterflies that grace our lives. It would be hard to imagine a world without butterflies, but, there are less of them every year in our country. Illegal logging in Mexican preservations also threatens the millions of monarch butterflies that winter in central Mexico. To learn more, I urge you to visit Monarchs Across Georgia’s website that includes lesson plans, written for all grades, concerning pollinators that you can share with science teachers and others at your schools.
Website for Monarchs Across Georgia: http://www.monarchsacrossga.org/
Betsy Razza, Druid Hills High School