There is something about a good picture book that really gets me really excited. It makes me want to tell everyone about it immediately. (OK, honestly it makes me want to purchase it immediately, then it makes me want to tell everyone about it.) That’s what happened when I laid eyes on the first book presented by Dreamling Books, The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth.
Maybe it was the gorgeous pictures — amazing illustrations by Disney Interactive artist David McClellan, mimicking the stunning photography style of the author, adventure photographer Chris Burkard.
Maybe it was the message: to slow down, enjoy the journey, and breathe in the beauty all around you.
Whichever it was that hit first, it was the combination that reminded me of so many moments when I’ve suddenly realized that the grandeur of nature has enveloped me. You know, that moment where something stirs inside of you?
Watching with my dad as a fading summer thunderstorm and a sunset collided, turning the sky a surreal color of purple, that slowly faded and disappeared, right in front of our eyes.
Riding horseback through winding trails lined with trees, imagining I wasn’t just a little girl, but a Native American, searching desperately for a safe place for my people.
Lying on our trampoline in the backyard as a teenager, taking in the expanse of sky on a starry night, a hundred miles away from bright city lights.
Watching an eagle swoop down and pluck a fish right out of the Snake River as I sat, gliding through the water on a warm aluminum canoe.
Sitting in the cool, wet sand with my husband, watching the sun set over the ocean.
Hiking the Narrows this past summer and looking up to see the amazing red rock walls, contemplating the centuries of water that had warn the walls smooth.
Or something as simple as the shimmering, silky glint of light through the trees on a day in early spring.
It does something to you. But you have to stop and intentionally look in order to see it.
I want that for my kids. Not only the experience of physically being in those amazing places, but of being there completely. Of stopping and breathing in all the beauty.
This book, and all the memories it brought back, reminded me of the first time I took my oldest son on a hike in Zion National park as a baby. My husband and I had been there many times before. We’d hike and take in the sights, but we’d also keep a good pace. I was fixated on getting to the end quickly. Checking the box.
That first hike as a trio changed the way I saw the experience completely.
With an infant strapped to me, I saw the landscape with new eyes. There was so much to take in. Not just at the top, but right where we stood. We slowed to let him feel rocks and moss. I looked at canyon walls as though I was seeing them for the first time. We were no longer hiking to a destination, we were already there –with each and every step.
I want to keep that fresh-eyed perspective. And I want it for my kids too.
I’m hoping this book will awaken part of that wanderlust in them.
I’m hoping it reminds us to slow down, breathe in the beauty, and find the joy in the journey.
I hopped onto the Kickstarter project Dreamling Books has rolled out for The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth, and made my pledge. (Full disclosure: It may not have been completely motivated by altruism, but perhaps a bit more of a compulsion of my bibliophilia — but a pledge nonetheless.) I had stumbled upon it on Day 1, and I was crossing my fingers that the project would be fully funded so that I could get my copy of the book that corresponded with my pledge. In 36 hours the project had inspired so many people it was already fully funded.
Today the project has nearly doubled the original goal and a series of stretch goals have been rolled out. They’re just a few hundred donors away from adding on an ebook version for all donors. With a strong final surge, they could even throw in some amazing adventures for a few lucky donors. (Iceland, anyone?)
Dreamling Books believes everyone has a story to tell. They’re turning publishing on its head, creating a hub to connect writers and illustrators so that they can make inspiring books for children. And the invitation is open to everyone — including kids.
Dreamling makes presentations to young children, encouraging them them to follow their spark, and to harness a powerful narrative. They even held a Dreamathon to inspire a whole community!
For more about our children’s need for nature, check out our past read along, The Last Child in the Woods .