What We're Reading: Raising Elijah

"I am a conscientious parent. I am not a HEPA filter." ~ Sandra Steingraber

We often hear of people who don't pay much attention to the impact of their choices...until they have children. (Food safety advocate Robyn O'Brien is just one example.) Having someone to protect and nurture brings new passion and clarity to our relationships with the world. Scientist and author Sandra Steingraber's attention was captured sooner, when she was diagnosed with cancer, but having children launched her desire to take positive action into high gear.

Steingraber's third book, Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, provides an important synthesis and call to action for everyone who cares about children, parent or not. Although her book is at heart a memoir, Steingraber uses her own family's challenges and triumphs as a springboard for exploring the broader issues of the toxic environment we have constructed that threatens our families' health and well-being. Through the universals of childhood -- such as school, laundry, and food -- Steingraber dissects the frightening and frustrating obstacles that mindful parents encounter, from arsenic on the playground to chemicals in the food to neurotoxins in the air, through simply trying to raise and provide for their children.

Steingraber provides plenty of information to make us angry and despairing and inspired to take action, but not quite enough information about the most effective ways to take that action. However, she does an excellent job of highlighting how deeply interconnected protecting children and protecting the environment are, as well as emphasizing the necessity for parents and concerned citizens to become actively engaged at a policy level, as well as a personal and community level.

This is a must-read for all parents, and for other people passionate about protecting children.

~ Marsha

IHE's six-week online course, Raising a Humane Child, is designed to help you in your quest to live your life according to your deepest values and to raise your children to be joyful, engaged citizens in creating a just, compassionate, healthy world for all. Many tell us this course is life-changing. It is also world-changing. Next session starts November 7. Sign up now.

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