I grew up in a big family—three brothers and three sisters. But I’m also part of an even larger family—the family of animals. And so are you. So are all humans. Honeybee, lion, turtle, robin, guppy. We’re all connected. And we often have more in common than not.
I thought about that as I researched and wrote my most recent book, a nonfiction celebration of animal siblings, Brother, Sister, Me and You. (Check out the dedication! And look for the surprise animal at the end.)
Some baby animals play together, others simply share a nest or birthplace. Lion cubs pounce and play, beaver kits do chores, wolf pups snuggle up and sleep together.
Growing up, my siblings and I explored the fields, pond, and woods around our home, just as bear cubs explore. We splashed like otters and paddled like ducklings. We wrestled and hugged and learned from one another. I’m grateful to and for my sibs, and I love that we continue to gather now, with our own children.
And I’m grateful to and for my larger animal family, for all they do to create a vibrant Earth that shelters, nourishes, and sustains us all. I try to think of ways to help them, to show my gratitude.
Living in the city, in Washington, DC, I’ve discovered three simple things I can do on a daily basis. In fact, they’re so simple and take so little time that anyone can do them—and if everyone did (or even just 10% of the households in our country), it would make a big difference to the Earth.
- Put out water for birds and insects. We use a birdbath, but a ceramic saucer works, too.
- Plant native shrubs and flowers, in containers and in the yard. The local fauna has adapted over centuries to eat and nest in native plants, rather than those brought in from other regions or parts of the world.
- Conserve water by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth and wash your face.
Oh, and one more thing: as you stroll, creep, and swim through life, notice how the other members of your animal family are moving, too.
Mary Quattlebaum is the author of 27 children’s books, most of which feature real or fictional animals, including Brother, Sister, Me and You, Hero Dogs, Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond, and Mighty Mole and Super Soil. Mary also teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Learn more at www.maryquattlebaum.com