Literature Connections for
Acid Rain

Teacher's Guides > Acid Rain

In these books there exists a situation (fictional or real) in which the impact of humans causes some imbalance in the ecosystem. Some books are specifically about acid rain while others are about other environmental problems such as chemical spills, the vanishing rain forest, or diminishing habitats for animals. Running through many of the books is a strong message that people acting in a timely fashion can turn these problems around. We have included several nonfiction books: two of them about acid rain and surface water pollution and two biographies of influential women ecological activists.

The Berenstain Bears and the Coughing Catfish
Danny Dunn and the Universal Glue
The Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo: A Drama of Ecology
The Earth is Sore: Native Americans on Nature
Just A Dream
Kid Heroes of the Environment: Simple Things Real Kids Are Doing To Save the Earth
The Last Free Bird
Love Canal: My Story
The Missing ‘Gator of Gumbo Limbo: An Ecological Mystery
One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest
Our Endangered Planet: Rivers and Lakes
Rachel Carson
Rain of Troubles: The Science and Politics of Acid Rain
Restoring the Earth: How Americans Are Working to Renew Our Damaged Environment
The River
A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History
And Still the Turtle Watched
The Talking Earth
Who Really Killed Cock Robin?


The Berenstain Bears and the Coughing Catfish
by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Random House, New York. 1987
Out of print

Grades: K–6
A respected bear scientist helps a wise catfish and the Berenstains to clean up a lake where pollution is life-threatening. A sunken treasure chest, some imaginative scientific devices, and the creation of a lake-life museum are part of the story. Although this book has the juvenile humor common to the series, the language level is fairly high and might even stretch into the 7th and 8th grades with a suitable introduction.
Return to titles list.

Danny Dunn and the Universal Glue
by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin; illustrated by Paul Sagsoorian
McGraw-Hill, New York. 1977
Grades: 4–9

Danny and his friends bring evidence to a town meeting that waste from a local factory is polluting the stream. Discussion of societal issues such as tax revenue and jobs that the factory contributes to the town make a good connection to the town meeting in Session 7.
Return to titles list.

The Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo: A Drama of Ecology
by Charlotte Pomerantz; illustrated by Jose Aruego
Young Scott Books/Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts. 1971
Out of print
Grades: 4–7
This cautionary verse, based on a true story, explores how spraying for mosquitoes in Borneo eventually affected the entire ecological system, from cockroaches, rats, cats, and geckoes to the river and the farmer. The strong, humorous text makes the book successful as a read-aloud or as a play to be performed. A good example of the interacting elements of an ecosystem.
Return to titles list.


The Earth is Sore: Native Americans on Nature
adapted and illustrated by Aline Amon
Atheneum, New York. 1981
Out of print
Grades: 4–Adult
This collection of poems and songs by Native Americans celebrates the relationship between the Earth and all creatures and mourns abuse of the environment. Illustrated with black and white collage prints made from natural materials.
Return to titles list.

Just A Dream
by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin, New York. 1990
Grades: 1–6
When he has a dream about a future Earth devastated by pollution, Walter begins to understand the importance of taking care of the environment. Session 7 encourages students to take responsibility for environmental concerns, and to empower themselves.
Return to titles list.

Kid Heroes of the Environment:
Simple Things Real Kids Are Doing To Save the Earth
edited by Catherine Dee; illustrated by Michele Montez
Earth Works Press, Berkeley, California. 1991
Grades: 3–12
Twenty-nine profiles of individuals and organizations working at home, at school, locally, and nationally, to help the environment through “kid power.” Strong connections include “Oliver the Otter,” an oil spill awareness and publishing project; “Tree’s Company,” tree planting and research on the greenhouse effect; “Toxic Avengers” which shut down a waste storage facility dumping hazardous waste; and “Testing the Water,” a Boy Scout project to monitor streams for acid rain.
Return to titles list.

The Last Free Bird
by A. Harris Stone; illustrated by Sheila Heins
Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. 1967
Out of print
Grades: K–4
Here’s a moving plea for protecting the natural beauty and habitats of the land and “the last free bird.” The easy reading level and the interplay between the watercolor illustrations and the text make this book effective for younger children. An interesting activity would be to read this book about vanishing bird habitats and supplement it with Urban Roosts (in the “Structure” section) which shows birds adapting to urbanized and seemingly inhospitable environments.
Return to titles list.

Love Canal: My Story
by Lois M. Gibbs
State University of New York at Albany Press, Albany, New York. 1982
Out of print
Grades: 6–12
Autobiography of the housewife who organized a neighborhood association that eventually resulted in a clean up of the Love Canal toxic waste site and relocation of the families living there. She went on to form the Citizen’s Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste based in Arlington, Virginia.
Return to titles list.

The Missing ‘Gator of Gumbo Limbo: An Ecological Mystery
by Jean C. George
HarperCollins, New York. 1992
Grades: 4–7
Sixth-grader Liza K and her mother live in a tent in the Florida Everglades. She becomes a nature detective while searching for Dajun, a giant alligator who plays a part in a waterhole’s oxygen-algae cycle, and is marked for extinction by local officials. The book is full of detail about the local habitats and species and the forces that impact on them, as well as environmental information that relates to this GEMS unit. Lisa and her amateur naturalist neighbor discuss, for example, pesticide and phosphate pollution and the differences between green and blue-green algae: “Blue-green algae, on the other hand, is an announcer of doom. It says the water is polluted with phosphorus and nitrogen from septic tanks, lawns, and road runoff. That day it also said to me there was no Dajun. If he was there, he would have bulldozed that clump of blue-green algae to shore. It suffocates the fish and turtles he lives on. Somehow he knows this and weeds it out.” Reading this extraordinary book would make a wonderful extension to the “lake animals play” in Session 6 of this GEMS guide.
Return to titles list.

One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest
by Jean C. George; illustrated by Gary Allen
HarperCollins, New York. 1990
Grades: 4–7
When a section of rain forest in Venezuela is scheduled to be bulldozed, a young boy and a scientist seek a new species of butterfly for a wealthy industrialist who might preserve the forest. As they travel through the ecosystem rich with plant, insect, and animal life, everything they see on this one day is logged beginning with sunrise at 6:29 a.m. They finally arrive at the top of the largest tree in the forest and fortuitously capture a specimen of an unknown butterfly.
Return to titles list.

Our Endangered Planet: Rivers and Lakes
by Mary Hoff and Mary M. Rogers
Lerner Publications, Minneapolis. 1991
Grades: 4–8
An attractive and user-friendly reference book covering the dangers of surface water pollution with many illustrations and photographs. Other relevant titles in this series (all published in 1991) include: Groundwater, Population.
Return to titles list.

Rachel Carson
by Leslie A. Wheeler
Silver Burdett Press/Simon & Schuster, New York. 1991
Grades: 5–12
The life and work of the biologist and conservationist are examined in light of the important role her writing played in initiating the modern environmental movement. The second half of the book provides fascinating background on influences and obstacles that contributed to her writing Under the Sea Wind, The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, and the landmark work, The Silent Spring, which caused an uproar with its descriptions of the pollution of earth and sea by chemical pesticides and the potential effects on humans and wildlife.
Return to titles list.

Rain of Troubles:
The Science and Politics of Acid Rain
by Lawrence Pringle
Macmillan, New York. 1988
Grades: 5–12
Acid rain’s discovery, formation, transportation, its effects on plant and animal life, and how economic and political forces have delayed action are discussed. This book provides good background for the town meeting activities in the GEMS guide.
Return to titles list.

Restoring the Earth: How Americans Are Working to Renew Our Damaged Environment
by John J. Berger
Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1985
Doubleday, New York. 1987
Out of print
Grades: 7–12
This book profiles individuals and groups active in conservation. It is written at the adult level and does not include any photographs or illustrations. Especially relevant to the GEMS activities is the first section, which deals with restoration of a polluted lake, a trout stream, and a dead marsh. “Mother Nashua” is the true story of the clean-up effort, also portrayed in Lynne Cherry’s picture book A River Ran Wild. Other sections relate to land use and waste disposal, human settlements and their environmental impact, and wildlife preservation.
Return to titles list.

The River
by David Bellamy; illustrated by Jill Dow
Clarkson Potter/Crown, New York. 1988
Grades: 3–5
Plant and animal life co-exist in a river—then they must struggle for survival when a human-made catastrophe strikes. Details about stream ecology include a description of the effects of waste water discharged from a factory pipe and how the bacteria, algae, and oxygen interact in the dam area and beyond where the waste has been diluted. The ending seems overly optimistic with the river “back to normal” a month after the waste is released. “Everyone hopes the factory owners will be more careful in the future.”
Return to titles list.

A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History
by Lynne Cherry
Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, San Diego. 1992
Grades: 1–5
This is the true story of the Nashua River Valley in North-Central Massachusetts from the time that the Native Americans settled there, naming it River With the Pebbled Bottom. The book traces the impact on the river of the industrial revolution and the eventual clean-up campaign mounted by a local watershed association. The graphic borders are packed with historical information, showing the tools and artifacts that represent cultural changes that affected the water quality: the proliferation of textile and paper mills and attendant pollution, the increased presence of plastics and chemicals in manufacturing, and waste disposal.
Return to titles list.


And Still the Turtle Watched
by Sheila MacGill-Callahan; illustrated by Barry Moser
Dial Books, New York. 1991
Grades: K–5
A turtle carved by Native Americans on a rock watches, with sadness, the changes humans bring over the years. After the rock is cleaned of spray paint and installed indoors at a botanical garden, the turtle’s vision is restored and he communicates his wisdom to the many children visiting. Moser’s watercolor paintings are dramatic.
Return to titles list.

The Talking Earth
by Jean C. George
HarperCollins, New York. 1983
Grades: 6–12
Billie Wind, a Seminole, is known for her curiosity and criticized for doubting the traditional wisdom of her people. Her sister says, “You are too scientific. You are realistic like the white men.” Poling through the Florida Everglades sloughs and then a river in a dugout canoe, she fends for herself with an otter, a panther cub, and a turtle as companions and guides. Viewing the destruction after a hurricane, she hears the message of the animal spirits, “we must love the earth or it will look like this … life can be destroyed unless we work at saving it.”
Return to titles list.

Who Really Killed Cock Robin?
by Jean C. George
HarperCollins, New York. 1991
Grades: 3–7
A compelling ecological mystery examines the importance of keeping nature in balance, and provides an inspiring account of a young environmental hero who becomes a scientific detective.
Return to titles list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


SOx and NOx


There once was an oxide called SOx
Who, along with another named NOx,
Unleashed acid rain,
As this guide will explain,
Causing eco-illogical shocks.

From smokestacks and auto exhaust
Exacting a terrible cost
Acid rain’s killing lakes
Do we have what it takes—
To make certain that no more get lost?

The tough problems posed by pollution
Are crying out loud for solution
To bring NOx and SOx down
Let us meet in our town
For we each have a key contribution.

— Lincoln Bergman


 

 

 

Lawrence Hall of Science    © 2017 UC Regents. All rights reserved.    Contact GEMS    Updated February 06, 2015