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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

A Children’s Author On Inspiring Kids to Protect the Planet

Air Date: Week of

One of Lynne’s Cherry’s most well-known books is The Great Kapok Tree (Photo: Courtesy of Lynne Cherry)

Children’s author Lynne Cherry joins Host Bobby Bascomb to describe how a childhood filled with exploring nature led to her career of writing and illustrating stories to inspire kids to protect forests and nature.


BASCOMB: So today as part of our Earth Day Celebration we have filmmaker, illustrator, and author Lynne Cherry. Lynne is perhaps best known for her children’s book, The Great Kapok Tree. Her journey to writing started in the woods behind her family home in Pennsylvania.

CHERRY: When I was little girl, we live by a woods and it was where I spent most of my waking hours. I just loved every square inch of it. I used to go sit absolutely still and I learned that if you don't move, that it's like you're invisible and all the animals come up, and they land on you, they poke you. You get to see what the natural world is like, when you're not there. I was lying in a field, and I fell asleep and I woke up, because I felt this really soft, something really soft brushing my face. And I opened my eyes just a little bit and it was this bright gold flashing by and then when I opened them a little bit more, it was goldfinches and they were flying so close to me that their wings were brushing my face. And then I closed my eyes and they landed on me. I felt like it was a blessing. I felt like I had been accepted into this wild kingdom. A lot of the times when I was sitting there I was drawing, I was looking at what holes in the trees, different animals lived in. I was realizing that like every nook and cranny, there's something living in it and I just got so I knew where each animal lived. So I would write stories.

Lynne Cherry is the author and illustrator of several children’s books. (Photo: Dustin Angell)

I brought my paper and pen and sat there and wrote stories and did drawings. And my first books were these just little books, folded paper with crayon drawings of my adventures. I kept all those books, so I kept, I have a box with all these little children's stories in it. And I found one as an adult. And I brought it to my publisher and she said, this is a really good story but you've improved as an illustrator since you were eight, so could you redo the illustrations and we'll publish the book. And that was this book that was actually published. I actually think I wouldn't have been creative If I hadn't had those hours, sitting by myself, watching nature, letting my imagination run free writing, drawing, and getting to know the animals kind of personally. It's like a meditation. I think it's really important for kids to have that kind of time. I was eight years old when I came home one day and they were bulldozing my woods. I felt like the adults didn't know what they were doing. They had no idea what that what was there when they were destroying it. Maybe they didn't care. And so I felt like I couldn't do anything back then but then as I got older, I realized kids do have power, and that kids can save forests. And so I started sharing the stories of kids who had saved forests with other kids and then they went out and saved forests. And then I have devoted my life to helping people to save the forest in their own backyards. And that's really exciting to me that they are speaking up to save the places that they love.

BASCOMB: Author Lynne Cherry



Lynne Cherry’s Website

Find The Great Kapok Tree (Affiliate link supports LOE & indie bookstores)


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