Book cover of A Forest in the City

A Forest in the City

By Andrea Curtis, illustrated by Pierre Pratt. Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2020. 40 Pages, $19.95.
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Jane Ranson

A Forest in the City is an impressively illustrated and engaging book that teaches us about the importance of the urban forest. Every page is filled with information we can use to teach our students about the importance of nature in the city, today and in the future. The story begins imagining a city where trees grow everywhere, making everyone “feel safe, calm and connected to the earth.” Then we flip the page to a harsh image of a city with people and cars rushing; the green space everywhere has been replaced by concrete. We then dig deep into the soil below the streets where the urban forest begins with a healthy root system and learn about obstacles city trees face because of pollution and development. We are reminded that trees not only provide shade and beauty but also fight pollution and climate change.

A Forest in the City is a fantastic book for elementary school students, offering clear connections to the Ontario Curriculum. On every page there are opportunities for inquiry-based lessons in Science and Social Studies. Students are encouraged to make a difference in their communities by protecting or growing trees or by improving the green spaces they already have. This book can be used as a starting point for a lesson about climate change. On a page filled with tall, lush, green trees is a detailed description of how much carbon dioxide is produced by human activities and how our trees act as a natural air purifier. There are many science connections as students explore the ecosystem of an urban forest. Students can learn about how living things in the urban forest interact with each other and the environment. There is a lesson about health as we read about how trees not only improve air quality but make people feel happier and less stressed.

Although A Forest in the City is an urgent message about climate change, the story also inspires hope for our young people who are acting as environmental advocates for our future.

Jane Ranson is a member of the Limestone Teacher Local.