|"The real proof of the book's impact will come several years from now when these children grow to adults who are more aware of the lakes and more willing to protect their aquatic resources."|
Wisconsin Department of Administration
Wisconsin celebrated its coastal program's 25th anniversary last September by giving a present to every child in the state. Managers hope the gift, a special reprinting of a classic children's book about the Great Lakes, will help inspire the next generation of coastal stewards.
"We saw the importance of reaching out to the next generation of coastal managers," says Jim Langdon, director of the Division of Intergovernmental Relations in the Wisconsin Department of Administration. "These books will remain in schools and libraries for many years to come."
The 1941 children's book Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling "illustrates the history, character, and importance of the Great Lakes," Langdon says. The book chronicles the adventures of a small wooden Indian in a tiny canoe as it travels from the headwaters of Lake Superior through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
The book won a Caldecott Medal in 1942, which is presented annually to the most distinguished American picture book for children. Langdon believes its images and story hold up well for today's youth.
"Our family started reading it, and from that I could see the benefits of trying to create the same excitement in other kids that my daughters felt about the book," Langdon recalls.
The commemorative edition includes a forward by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and a classroom activity developed by the Wisconsin Historical Society. "In addition to the children," Langdon says, "we wanted to reach teachers and parents with our program's overall message, 'enjoy and protect Wisconsin's Great Lakes.'"
With the support of the book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin Company, the coastal program printed 2,500 copies of the special version of the book using a school bindery. The cost was about $10 per book.
After a kickoff event where the state's first lady read portions of the book to students aboard a schooner, copies of the book were distributed to every elementary school in the state and to all public libraries, as well as to coastal managers around the country.
So far, the coastal program has received a number of thank you letters and e-mails from librarians, many of whom fondly remember the book from their childhood and are happy to be introducing it to their students.
"The real proof of the book's impact," Langdon says, "will come several years from now when these children grow to adults who are more aware of the lakes and more willing to protect their aquatic resources."
He adds, "You can't discount the impact of communication as an effective coastal management tool."
For more information on Wisconsin's publication of Paddle to the Sea, contact Jim Langdon at (608) 261-7520 or James.Langdon@doa.state.wi.us.