Awesome Invention: A Picture Book You Can Plant!

While books are a treasured keepsake, and are nearly infinitely reusable, the fact is that many of our books end up collecting dust in the attic.

As we accumulate more books, lose interest in the stories we’ve re-read, or simply grow out of our old picture books, they often get tossed to the wayside.

This may not seem like a big deal, however, when we think about the huge amount of paper that goes into the mass production of books. According to Claudia Thompson, author of the book Recycled Papers: The Essential Guide, it takes about 24 trees to manufacture one ton of paper.

Trees are one of our Earth’s most valuable resources, and cutting them down just to see the results go to waste simply does not seem right. So, what are we to do?

One innovative publisher in Argentina, Pequeño Editor, has come up with a new sustainable purpose for picture books — making them plantable!

So far, one title, Mi Papá Estuvo en la Selva (My Father Was in the Jungle), has been printed with jacaranda tree seeds housed inside the pages — using non-toxic ink — so that the book can actually be planted, and grow into beautiful, life-sustaining trees when it is no longer used.

The jacaranda tree is native to Argentina, and according to editorial director Raquel Franco, “It’s a tree that provides excellent shade and offers a lot of oxygen to the environment.” When children are finished enjoying the book, instead of tossing it aside, they can wet the pages, allow the seeds to sprout indoors in the sun, and then plant the book outside. In time, saplings will flourish.

Natural resource

While this book has been around for a while in regular print, and has a message of environmental preservation, the publishers explain that they wanted to go further in encompassing the sentiment of sustainability. What better way than to return a book — made from trees — back into trees?

“We especially encourage re-reading it. We think this book must be planted after it has been read many times, in such a way that every time a kid looks at that growing tree he will perfectly remember the story that gave birth to it. It’s also a metaphor – everything we read also takes root in us and is part of our mental library, our culture, of who we are as people.”

We all know that reading is one of the most essential activities to enrich a child’s mind — and an adult’s mind for that matter! It not only builds intelligence, it encourages creativity as well.

On top of that, Pequeño Editor’s sustainability factor adds an important element to the mix — the awareness that our books come from a natural resource, and that we can give back to the Earth instead of throwing things made of Mother Nature’s materials away.

This is a powerful message, indeed, and we hope that more publishers catch on!