I’ve always been grateful for the year I took between high school and college to attend a little Bible school in Rhode Island. We had worship services every day, along with classes from committed Bible scholars who instilled in us the value of living a God-centered life. Not just focusing on God in church on Sunday mornings but making him the focus of every part of our lives.

So, it was with interest that I read a review copy of Amy Houts’ new picture book “God’s Earth is Something to Fight For” (Sunbeam/Bushel & Peck, 2023), which releases Sept. 5. Houts, a Missouri children’s author with more than 100 published books, uses the creation story and other scriptures to show how God wants us to take care of Earth. After creating Earth and making people, Houts’ simple text explains that God put them in a garden “to care and work it” (Genesis 2:15).

The cover of Amy Houts’ new picture book, “God’s Earth is Something to Fight For.” Courtesy photo

From there, Houts shares about something else God gave us: free will. People used it to make their lives easier, from making fires to cook meals to building transportation systems to travel fast. But one consequence of our ingenuity is pollution, which harms people and Earth.

In contrast, Houts shares the words of Jesus, who instructed us to care for each other (Matthew 25:40). “Fighting” for the planet, Houts writes, “won’t be using your fists. Instead, you’ll be using your voice, or your times, or your talent, or even your smile.” Kris Smolskaya’s vivid illustrations show young people picking up garbage, making signs and sharing a special moment together.

We can also pray and ask God to help us “fight for the Earth,” Houts says. Best of all, other people are also working “to make changes to help save the Earth.” One way is by planting gardens, like the first one God made. “God didn’t ask us to care for the Earth,” Houts reminds readers. “He commanded us! So, what are you waiting for?”

Houts’ straight-forward text introduces young readers to their Biblical responsibilities to care for Earth — a perfect message for students returning to school. Whenever my own children want to buy something, we talk about where it came from and where it will end up. If it’s plastic, that often means in a landfill. Around the globe, students are taking an increased interest in the future of the planet and holding adults responsible for their actions.

Having grown up on a small, organic farm where my mother grew most of our food, these were concepts I learned at home, and they are ones I’ve tried to pass on to my own children, from planting a garden to living in a small house to recycling all we can. Houts’ book helps spread this message, giving children another reason to “fight” for the planet, while also caring for each other.

Meadow Rue Merrill is the author of the award-winning memoir “Redeeming Ruth” and of the Lantern Hill Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays with activities that build children’s faith. She writes and reads in a little house in the big woods of Midcoast Maine. A review copy of this book was provided for free by the publisher. Get in touch at meadowrue.com.

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