Sunday, February 27, 2011

Michelle Schaub and The Little Green Pen Blog

It is my good fortune to have as my guest today, Michelle Schaub, author of The Little Green Pen blog.  This is a blog I follow on a regular basis.  Michelle has lots to say, particularly now with our planet in peril.   I know you'll enjoy getting to know her!

NS:  What inspired you to start a blog focused on green literacy?

MS:  A few factors came together. The first was my journey as a mom to raise environmentally-responsible children.  Our family has made many changes over the past few years to reduce our carbon footprint.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the environmental problems our planet is facing, and I wonder if my actions even count.  When this happens, I go back to the story of the mouse who was watching snowflakes land on a branch. (You can read my first blog post for the full story.)  Eventually the snowflakes, which weigh “nothing next to nothing”, cause the branch to snap.   I think of my blog as one of those snowflakes.  By sharing my ideas , I hope to inspire others to drop their own flakes onto the branch and maybe the ripple effect will carry the weight of change.
The second factor involves the research I’ve done as a teacher, parent, and nonfiction writer.  In preparing articles on various eco-conscious topics, or looking for good books to share with my kids and students, I’ve built up quite a bibliography of green reads.  There are some beautiful, inspiring books out there that help readers connect with and care about nature.   I’m using my blog to share the book’s I’ve discovered (and continue to discover) with others.
NS:  Who is your target audience?
MS:  Teachers, parents, and anyone looking for simple tips to live a greener life.

NS:  What benefit will teachers get from reading your blog?

MS:  I’m building an inventory of “Good Green Reads.”  Teachers looking for a book on a specific environmental topic, say water conservation, can visit my site to find a list of quality nonfiction and fiction focused on that topic.  In addition, I regularly feature author interviews and book giveaways.  This is a great opportunity for teacher to build up their classroom libraries and connect students with authors.

                                                              "I think it's important to
                                               give young readers a
                                               sense of empowerment."       
NS:  What benefit will parents get from reading your blog?

MS:  Besides taking advantage of the book reviews and giveaways, parents will find plenty of ideas for living green.  As a mom, I am constantly looking for fun, eco-friendly activities for my children, as well as ways my family can leave a gentler footprint on the planet.  I share my ideas and experiences in my blogs. I also welcome input from other parents.  I hope to create a forum where ideas are exchanged that interest children in environmental issues.

NS:  How has your concern for the environment influenced your own writing?

MS:  I am definitely drawn to topics that focus on nature and ways we can protect it.  The challenge I find when writing about the environment is to present my topics in ways that inspire readers to care and act, without sounding preachy.  I think it’s important to give young readers a sense of empowerment.  The overarching message I try to convey in my writing is that small steps can make a big difference.  

NS:  How do you incorporate your love of green issues into your teaching? 

First, I think leading by example is a powerful teaching tool.  When I’m working in local schools, I continue to do the simple earth-friendly actions I’ve integrated into my life, like  riding my bike, bringing my lunch in reusable containers, turning off the lights, etc.  When kids ask me about these things, (and they do because kids are oh-so-curious), it gives me a chance to talk about some of the green choices I’ve made.

Also, I am strong believer in John Muir’s idea that people who spend time in nature are much more likely to care about it.  I try to connect students to nature whenever possible. One of my favorite classes to teach is nature writing.  When kids have the opportunity to sit quietly in a natural habitat and let their senses soak in their surroundings, they begin to notice things they would normally overlook.  Their observations lead to wonder, a desire to protect, and some great writing! 

NS:   Where can students take your nature writing classes?

MS:  I’m really excited about the next nature writing class I’ll be teaching at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Illinois.  The Peabody Mansion, once the home of coal magnate Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, is a beautiful setting.  Students taking the class with have the chance to explore the some of the amazing habitats on the grounds (pond, prairie, marsh, savanna) with a staff naturalist.  We’ll have great fun writing about our discoveries.   Here are the details: 

When:  Mondays, May 2nd- 23rd.
Where: Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st Street, Oak Brook, Il.
Time:  4:15-5:00 pm
Ages: 3rd-6th graders
To register: call 630-206-9566, or visit for more information.

NS:  Thank you so much, Michelle, for agreeing to appear on my blog.  It was fun and enlightening as well.  All best wishes for your ongoing writing classes and everything you do for kids and parents.  I know my guests have enjoyed getting to know you better.


  1. Nancy,

    Very informative post. Thanks for sharing it.

    Nicole Weaver

  2. Michele,
    I'm going to hop over to your site to read more about your classes. I hope to learn a bit more about how it's done.
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker
    Children's Author of Klutzy Kantor & Marta's Gargantuan Wings