National Geographic KIDS Author Mary Quattlebaum reminds us to cherish our animal family

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.

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.

  1. Put out water for birds and insects.  We use a birdbath, but a ceramic saucer works, too.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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