Carbondale local publishes children’s book about conservation in advance of Earth Day
Lisa Dancing-Light is a Carbondale artist and teacher who is reframing environmental conservation through the lens of storytelling. Dancing-Light’s children’s book, “Magic Mountain,” will be released next week to align with the celebration of Earth Day.
“It’s been like a giant puzzle, putting this journey together, and especially looking back on it as I reflect,” Dancing-Light said. “Because this book is a culmination of about 40 years of my work as an educator, as a musician, my spiritual path, my path studying about the sacredness of the earth.”
The book will be published with a QR code to a website that has additional curriculum for teaching children environmental awareness and includes an original song by Dancing-Light that she has paired with her lesson plans in the past. She credits her granddaughter Lydia for helping inspire her to publish a book after teaching her preschool class about conservation and the “Magic Mountain” song. After the lesson, Dancing-Light said she remembers having Lydia’s teacher call her to tell her Lydia had built her own magic mountain out of snow that day at school.
“(That’s when I went) Maybe this message is not done, maybe it still has value. So I still didn’t think about publishing it as a book at that point, but it still registered with me that this is still a story that’s very much a living story,” Dancing-Light said.
Scott Fitzwilliams is a Forest Supervisor for the White River National Forest and read “Magic Mountain” before it was published. He said he found the book to have potential for inspiring others to continue to share stories, experiences even after reading it.
“What I thought is really special about the book is it really highlighted the value of storytelling in our conservation history, and that history goes back to our indigenous, native people – storytelling was so important,” Fitzwilliams said.
Dancing-Light describes her book on her website as a story about two children who try to wake up a mountain that went to sleep since people stopped visiting him to hear his stories. She said that although she’s been sharing the same message about listening to the planet for multiple years and things often seem bleak, she won’t stop doing this work.
“I don’t look at it as a hopeless situation, I feel like we’ve got work to do. I feel like we need to have a voice and we need to have our stories heard. We can’t be silent with any of the injustices that are going on now, and the earth issues are just part of it,” Dancing-Light said.
The primary audience for “Magic Mountain” is children, but Dancing-Light said she believes they carry influence within a family and can help advance the conservation movement, especially with this story that spurs imagination and wonder while reminding them what it means to listen and be listened to.
“I’m hoping that this book, with the message of having a special way of listening, encourages children to have a special way of listening and to notice that other people need to listen to them as well,” Dancing-Light said.
Fitzwilliams said his conservation story began when he was a child. Now he’s spent over a decade in a role he sought out based on what he used to do for fun growing up.
“I get to do as a job and public service what I dreamed about as a kid. … Thinking of Lisa’s book hopefully I’ll remind myself to do better and tell those stories because there’s someone else that has to take my place and so on and so forth,” Fitzwilliams said.
Dancing-Light’s book will be available for online purchase the week of Earth Day. She’ll also have a live reading event through Garfield County Public Libraries on April 22 that will be streamed online to all branch websites along with a translator. For being a self-described “in-person person” Dancing-Light said she is grateful for all the support she’s gained for the book and the opportunities she has to share the message.
“This book is (really about) storytelling,” she said. “And sharing your story, and what it would feel like if people didn’t care about what your story was. That’s really what the book is about.”
Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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