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Tiny but mighty: an acorn’s role in the ecosystem

Because of an Acorn

Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer
Chronicle Books
36 pp.
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Age Range: 3 – 6 years

Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten

For a large swath of the Appalachian Mountains, white oak trees represent a foundational species, one upon which a diverse ecosystem thrives. Acorns and saplings serve as food, while larger trees offer shade and help prevent soil erosion, adding a rich compost of decaying leaves to the forest floor each fall. Through a combination of vivid illustrations and simple text, this book offers small children a glimpse into the complex connections that underlie the forest’s vibrant web of life. “Because of an acorn, a tree. Because of a tree, a bird,” the book begins, concisely revealing how seeds beget flowers which beget fruit and how these, in turn, support chipmunk, snake, and hawk populations.

The book’s final pages contain more detailed information on ecosystems and food chains, and the threats posed to both by mining and logging, concluding with a section on what readers can do to help. “Use fewer napkins and paper towels,” the authors advise, and “[b]uy products that are made from recycled paper and cardboard.” They might also have added “purchase this book” to the list: A portion of proceeds from its sale will be donated to support the work of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of sustainable environmental policies.