River systems are an essential part of Earth’s ecosystems. Rivers provide water and habitats for animals and plants. Their flowing waters are a source of transportation and power for the communities that live nearby. Rivers are even a place for celebrations, festivals, and recreational activity. Life would not be the same without rivers.
A River’s Impact
Rivers have shaped life all over the world. Students can explore the impact some famous rivers have had in these books:
Ten Rivers That Shaped the World by Marilee Peters, illustrated by Kim Rosen
As the rivers of our world twist and turn, they also mold our history. Readers can take a metaphorical dive into 10 fascinating rivers that shaped our lives and learn fun facts along the way such as why people in India have gathered to bathe in the Ganges for thousands of years. The book shows readers that rivers can be extraordinarily powerful, not simply because of their fast-flowing currents, but because of their ability to make civilizations rise or crumble. Through a colorful and engaging layout, this book teaches both geography and world history.
Where is the Mississippi River? by Dina Anastasio, illustrated by Ted Hammond
Part of the popular Where Is? series, this chapter book traces the history of the Mississippi River from its formation during the Ice Age into the present day. Over time, the “mighty Mississippi” has been a home for wetland wildlife, an important route for trade and military campaigns, and an inspiration for classic literature. Engineering connections are embedded into a section about flooding disasters and various efforts to design flood-prevention structures like levees and spillways.
Great Rivers of the World by Volker Mehnert, illustrated by Martin Haake
This gorgeous atlas travels down 17 rivers in six continents, from the Rhine in Europe to the Murray in Australia. Each river is introduced with a full-page map, a short narrative, and fascinating facts about its history and ecology. With eye-popping icons of landmarks, animals, plants, and people, readers will always find more to discover and explore.
What rivers are closest to where you live? Identify and research a nearby river. What impact has the river had on the local community? What is the river’s history? How was it used in the past? How does that compare to how it is used today? What industries rely on the river? What problems are associated with the river? How can these problems be solved? Present what you have learned.
Rivers are full of plant and animal life. Plants provide food and shelter for many animals. Some animals and plants live under the water, while others live on the water’s surface. Other animals and plants live on riverbanks near the water. What animals and plants live in the river near you? Take a fieldtrip to the river and see how many different plants, animals, and insects you can find. How does each fit into the river’s ecosystem?
A healthy river is essential for the communities and ecosystems that rely on it. Students can learn about efforts to conserve water and improve the health of our waterways in these books.
Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers & Wetlands by Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A. and Philippe Cousteau with EarthEcho International
Written in conjunction with ocean spokesperson Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the illustrious Captain Jacques Cousteau, this call-to-action book is both interesting and commendable for its well-researched content. The book educates readers about the earth’s water crisis and gives them tangible tools and inspiration to transform their ideas into action. This includes practical suggestions they can implement today in order to benefit our planet’s water system. The content is not only theoretical but also experience based, as it shows readers of the value of community service. The book also includes many stories, interviews, and resources on the topic
My River: Cleaning up the Lahave River by Stella Bowles and Anne Laurel Carter
This engaging book tells the story of Stella Bowles, a sixth grade Nova Scotia student who became an environmental activist. She focused her science fair project on her campaign against sewage pipes draining straight into the LaHave River. She doggedly advocated for all three levels of government (municipal, provincial, and federal) to step up and do something about the issue, and after fighting for two and a half years, she succeeded in rallying supporters into funding a $15.7 million cleanup. This is an excellent book about not only environmental activism but also having the courage to stand up and speak out when you see something that isn’t right.
What steps can you take to improve the health of rivers in your community? Investigate existing river health efforts in your community and see how you can volunteer. Many communities have groups that work together to clean and restore river ecosystems. Joining one of these teams will give you a chance to see how one person can make a difference in local rivers. What other changes in daily life can you make to protect river health? Brainstorm ways to conserve water, reduce water pollution, and more.
Carla Mooney loves to explore the world around us and discover the details about how it works. An award-winning author of numerous nonfiction science books for kids and teens, she hopes to spark a healthy curiosity and love of science in today’s young people. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and dog. When not writing, she can often be spotted at a hockey rink for one of her kids’ games. Find her at http://www.carlamooney.com, on Facebook @carlamooneyauthor, or on Twitter @carlawrites.