Where it began...
it took a community
Humble beginnings. The idea for Authors for Earth Day emerged on April 22, 2008 after naturalist and children's book author-illustrator, Brooke Bessesen, created her own first Earth Day school visit. "I was looking for a meaningful way to observe Earth Day with young readers," says Brooke, "so I planned to donate my speaking fee to a conservation organization. Then I got thinking, what if the students voted to determine the donation recipient? I was excited to empower kids to find their 'voice' as writers and as voters, and to use that voice to help care for our blue planet."
A surprising success! The teachers and kids at Encanto Elementary in Phoenix, Arizona made posters and wore Earth Day pins and t-shirts. Based on the student vote, Brooke donated her then-fee of $700 to the winning organization (the Humane Society of the United States) and everyone cheered when the voting results were announced. The organization was so thrilled by the uniqueness of the contribution that they even sent library materials to the school to thank students and staff for their support.
Driving home from that rewarding event, Brooke considered the possibility of expanding the concept to an annual multi-author event. She glows at the memory, "If I could make such an impact all alone, I thought, what could ten, a hundred, a thousand of us do together? I was blown away by the potential!" So she built the A4ED infrastructure and resource materials for a team.
The dream team. At the 2009 SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators conference in Los Angeles, Brooke wore a badge that read, "Ask me about Authors for Earth Day." Nobody did. That is until Newbery author Linda Sue Park inquired about it in the hotel elevator. (Yes, that actually does happen!) After hearing the concept, Linda told Brooke about the book Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green and referred her to the editor, best-selling author Dan Gutman. Dan opened doors to several of the renowned authors that have since joined the A4ED ranks. Thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of those friends and colleagues, the Authors for Earth Day coalition was born.