October 15th, 2023
Lou Anne DaRin has been an incredible volunteer with Color Penfield Green for the last few years. She leads our monthly Walking With a Purpose program, runs our Facebook page, and has co-taught Penfield Recreation classes on plant-based eating and home composting for adults; and "Love the Earth" and an Arbor Day celebration for children. She also currently leads her church's environmental group, Mother Earth. For many years, she was a beloved teacher at Cobbles Elementary school here in Penfield.
This past year, she turned her passion for the environment and education and her vast creative skills to writing a children's book: Mrs. Green Loves the Earth, illustrated by her sister, Cathy Colgan. You can purchase the book here.
"Mrs. Green is a teacher who loves teaching her class about taking care of the Earth. She shares lots of information with them and then asks the class to come up with actions that would be good for the Earth. They hold a Science Fair where children present their ideas. One child wins the grand prize for coming up with the best idea!
This book could be used as a science lesson leading to a discussion of concepts such as composting, electric cars, native gardens, etc. and how they benefit the environment." (Amazon's Book Description)
This book will also be turned into a play for elementary school-aged children in a Pen-Rec class this coming April! They will learn the roles on April 15th and perform on Earth Day for anyone who would like to attend. Additionally, Lou Anne will be doing readings at local libraries, book stores, environmental clubs, and elementary schools!
A Conversation With
Lou Anne DaRin
When did you first realize you wanted to be an author? What inspired you?
I was a teacher for 30 years and I loved reading children’s books. I especially loved the children’s books with a message. All those years when I was reading books to my class I always thought, “Maybe someday I’ll write a book too.” So becoming an author has been a goal for a long time.
What motivated you to write this particular story?
I have a passion for the environment and I love to teach children so combining those into a story made sense to me. I wanted to write a story with a message but I didn’t want the message to be that the climate crisis is huge and scary. I wanted the message to be that everyone can do a little something to help. I want a child to feel hopeful after reading this, like they can make a difference even just by doing one small thing.
Do you identify with the teacher in the book, Mrs. Green? If so, in what ways?
Well, Mrs. Green was a little quirky and I guess I have to admit I’m a bit quirky too! After all, you write what you know! Mrs. Green led by example in her classroom and I do feel I did that as well.
For aspiring writers, can you share how you created Mrs. Green Loves the Earth? What was your process?
The story unfolded for me as I wrote. Some writers say they know their ending before they start writing. That was not the case for me. I started creating the story and I kept going back to it and adding bits and pieces. I’d come up with another idea a child in the class could present and then I’d add that. I liked having the one child who couldn’t think of anything because I thought many children would be able to relate to her. Honestly, haven’t we all been there? While most of the children were suggesting great ideas most of their ideas were not doable for a child. Phoebe’s simple idea of picking up trash is doable for everyone so I felt that action could empower a child.
The other simple idea that I went back and forth on, was not wasting. Not wasting water and paper. I thought about Phoebe saying she turns off the water when brushing her teeth. Or saying, she uses both sides of a piece of paper. In the end I went with the idea of picking up trash as I think children (and adults) can see the immediate results of doing that “one small thing”.
You were an educator - how would you like to see this book incorporated into the classroom?
It is my dream that this book will be used in classrooms! I’d love to see teachers read this to their classes and use it as a springboard into discussions about the environment. It could lead to research into some of the suggestions the children made in the book to see if they really are realistic possibilities. A writing lesson on themes could also stem from this book. When I was teaching, I was always looking for books to read to my class that had content and could lead us down a path we otherwise might not have gone. I’m hoping my book can do that in classrooms.
What is your favorite way to take care of the Earth?
That’s an interesting question that I never really thought of before. I try to do many things to help take care of the Earth like driving an electric car, having a native garden, eating a vegetarian diet, composting, growing a vegetable garden, reducing, reusing, recycling, etc. But I guess my favorite thing to do is to educate others about the importance of taking care of the Earth and giving them ideas to do that. That’s really what Mrs. Green Loves The Earth is all about.