Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CitizenKid: Tree of Life

This is the third in a series of posts about the Kids Can Press series, CitizenKid. CitizenKid is "A collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens."

We're featuring the CitizenKid series because one of the CitizenKid authors, David J. Smith, will be at the February 20, 2010 Dublin Literacy Conference.

The theme of this year's conference, our 21st, is "Celebrating 21st Century Literacies." From the NCTE Position Statement on 21st Century Literacies, we know that "Twenty-first century readers and writers need to
  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments"
There will certainly be authors and presenters at the conference whose topics deal with the tools of technology, multi-media texts, and information management. Just as important, there will be a focus on relationships, cross-cultural collaboration, and the global community.

We hope you'll consider joining us for the day on February 20 at the Dublin Literacy Conference. You can find registration information here.

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth
by Rochelle Strauss
illustrated by Margot Thompson
Kids Can Press, 2004

This is a fascinating book that makes taxonomy, the classification of living organisms, accessible to young readers by using the metaphor of The Tree of Life. On The Tree of Life are 5 branches -- the 5 kingdoms of living things: the Kingdoms of Monera (bacteria), Fungi, Protoctista (paramecia, amoebas, algae, etc.), Plants, and Animals.

The metaphor is further extended to the leaves on the tree: "If each species were represented by a leaf, there would be 1,750,000 leaves on the Tree of Life."

On each double-page spread about a Kingdom, there is information about the specifics of that Kingdom and about the way the rest of the Tree of Life depends on it. And there is a visual that shows how many of the 1,750,000 species (leaves on the Tree of Life) come from that Kingdom.

The Kingdom of Animals has 1,318,000 species, 1,265,000 of which are invertebrates. Of the 52,500 vertebrates, only 4,640 of the species are mammals. Of the mammals, humans are one of the 233 species of primates. "Humans -- 1 leaf on the Tree of Life."

Humankind's place in the "Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth" is so small, and yet so much depends on the ways we do (and don't) care for our planet. I know that last bullet point on NCTE's list of 21st Century Literacies refers to the ethical responsibilities required by the complex environments we have created with the tools of technology, but I can't help thinking they refer to the ethical responsibilities required by the complex environment of the Earth, too.


  1. Ooh, gotta have. Thanks!

  2. Hello...and thanks for the great blog. It came up on a google alert and was a pleasure to read. I truly appreciate your support and enthusiasm...as well as your support of the Citizen Kid book series!!

  3. Ohh, this sounds wonderful! I can think of several teachers in my school who would put this to good use!

  4. I'm so glad to read about this book, since my kids and I have been discussing taxonomy and animal classification in our home school lately. A full-color book like this would no doubt be more aesthetically appealing than my drawing on the whiteboard!


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