- Virginia Johnson
Have you ever been in a place where there were lots of buildings but no trees? New housing developments or parts of a city that have been neglected for a long time may not have the shady spots and fresh air that trees give. As trees breathe, they let out oxygen that humans and animals need to survive. Their roots hold the ground together, making sure the soil doesn't blow away in the wind. When a tree dies naturally in the forest, its wood becomes a home for insects and a cafeteria for the hungry birds who eat those insects. Trees provide so many good things for the Earth.
About Arbor Day
Arbor is a Latin word for tree. Over a century ago, a man named Julius Sterling Morton believed that planting trees was important for his home state of Nebraska. He planted many fruit orchards, shade trees, and trees for wind breaks on his farm. He convinced his neighbors to do the same! Later, when he served on the state agricultural board, he suggested that a special day be set aside for people to plant trees and learn how important they are to the environment. Nebraska's first Arbor Day, on April 10, 1872 was a big success.
As time went on, more and more states adopted the holiday. They usually timed it according to the cycle of the seasons, picking the best planting date for trees in April. Virginia's own Arbor Day is the second Friday in April, a good time to plant the state tree, the flowering dogwood. In 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed that the last Friday in April would be National Arbor Day in the United States. Other countries around the world celebrate similar holidays. Japan and Macao have their Greening Week. Israel has the New Year of the Trees. India, too, has the National Festival of Tree Planting.
This April, take time to learn about the trees all around you. You can plant a tree if you wish to fill the bare spaces with healthy greenery. Where to get your trees? Trees to plant are everywhere at this time of the year: hardware stores, nurseries, and even grocery stores. You can also try planting the seeds in apples, pears or peaches from your lunch! If you have a lot of space for trees, or many friends, you could join the National Arbor Day Foundation and receive ten free trees with your membership. The money they make from memberships and tree sales goes to support other tree conservation projects.
Check out these books, videos, and Web sites to discover the amazing world of the trees in your own backyard.
In the Library
Arbor Day by Kelly Bennett
An early reader that teaches the history of the holiday.
National Audubon Society First Field Guide. Trees by Brian Cassie.
A good take-along guide for getting to know the trees around you.
The Secret Life of Trees by Chiara Chevallier.
A beautiful and interesting look into the hidden world of trees. A level 2 beginning reader from DK Publishing.
Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees For Kids by Gail Gibbons.
Discover how trees eat and breathe and the different kinds of seeds, fruit, and bark. Plus, learn how to make your own tree identification book and what words scientists use to talk about them.
A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla.
Follow the life of an apple tree from seed to sprout to tree, from blossoms to delicious fruit. A Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science Book.
On the Web
Enchanted Learning's Arbor Day Crafts
Nifty and easy ideas for crafts: a pop-up tree card, a family tree twig, a miniature Japanese garden, a pine cone bird feeder, and others.
The National Arbor Day Foundation
Look here for an online tree identification guide, information on the history of Arbor Day, and ideas to how to use trees as special gifts. The Arbor Day Foundation gives out awards and sponsors the Tree City USA program as well as a poster contest for kids. Join the foundation, and get 10 free trees. Fredericksburg, Virginia is a Tree City and has its own arborist to save trees and plant more when needed.