First Forest Earth Day Essay
"Essay question based on a
central theme in The First Forest:
"How and why do I show respect for the people and
places in my life?"
First Forest Essay Writing Contest
Winner Alyssa Colbert, Thomas Dooley School, Schaumburg,
Illinois, received a First Prize Award of $1,000 and a
complimentary copy of The First
Forest for every student at her
Respect is a very important word
in my family. I live with both of my parents, my
older brother and sisters. Without respect in our house,
our own little city wouldn't work. There are rules and
regulations that our parents have put in place for all of
us which help keep us safe and our house a nice place to
live in. We follow the rules by helping keep the house
My room is one of my responsibilities, and
if I don't keep my room in order, that may cause an
imbalance in my house. My brother and sisters may see me
not following the rules that our parents have made for us
and try to do the same thing. If we all break the rules,
then our house is a mess. Then there no respect for my
parents, myself, and more importantly, there's no respect
for my grandmother who passed away and made a way for us
to have our house. I don't want to disrespect my parents,
and I don't want to disrespect my grandmother whom I love
and miss. By respecting and honoring the rules and
regulations that my parents have set in place for me and
my brother and sisters, this honors and respects my
Since I believe my mother is like a
little version of my grandmother, she's shown me how to
respect the outside of our house as well. I help clean up
in the spring and summer any garbage that was left around
the house during the Winter. I help my mom plant
beautiful flowers and water the grass. I don't really
mind the heat in the summer, so I push really hard for us
not to use the air conditioning a lot.
The biggest thing I shoot for is Recycling.
As a member of the Environmental Club at school,
this has helped me learn a lot about saving Mother
Earth. And because of what I have learned, I let my
family know that if we do our part to recycle cans,
bottles, plastic, and newspapers, then we're respecting
the land we live on. Our family is only one of many, but
if we can do our part, the respect I've been taught by my
parents and the Environmental Club won't be just for my
house, but also for those who helped me before and those
who will continue to help after me. Love and respect for
Mother Earth can bring love and respect to
your own house. By Alyssa Colbert, reprinted here
Free Teaching Aids:
The First Forest Teaching
Good News For
Teachers And Principals
A Prime Example Of Pourquoi Literature
"...one of the best
messages that our generation can give..."
believe that the book is one of the best messages that
our generation can give to the new seeds that will make
trees like us in the long run, hoping that they will make
better trees than us." Istanbul, Turkey,
literary agency, Onk Agency, Ltd.
the litmus test for a piece of literature is whether it
strikes the intended audience as the author hopes, then
The First Forest is a stand-alone success."
D. Showers, Review
its lovely art and its philosophy of sharing, The
First Forest offers a number of concepts to be
shared by children, parents, and teachers . . .
valuations, cultural groups, change in status, teamwork,
consideration for others, responsibility, neighborliness,
self-confidence, self-control." Wings
First Forest is a little allegorical tale with a message
as big as the world. Dealing with the gigantic issues of
greed and selfishness, it delivers a potent punch. But
couched in simply phrased rhyming verse it
also tugs at your heart. It so obviously is a labor of
love." L. Carlson, Review
and New York reviews place The First Forest alongside
Charlotte's Web, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Giving Tree,
and other classics. "The book relays the value of
both concern for each other and for the
environment." Publishers Weekly
Aaron B., Third Grade
Click cover for
The First Forest by
Hard Cover Full Color
Coordinators' National Read, America! Classic
Scholastic Canada Book Club Selection
Chicago Tribune Best-Seller List four
consecutive holiday seasons
" . . . a book at a level of
storytelling with appeal "for generations of
readers." Read, America!
"...much more than a
First Forest is a delightful
children's book, but much more than an ordinary
children's book. It's also an art book because of Tom
Heflin's drawings; a nature book because of the topic; an
inspirational book because of the story and a
beautiful gift book for children and adults."
here for the author's background information
Click here to visit the
author's website www.johngile.com.
Night The Trees Talked
First Forest is another in
a long line of gifts from the trees. The
trees give us food and clothing and shelter. They
provide cool shade in summer and protection from
harsh winds in winter. The trees give us oxygen
to sustain our lives, medicines to heal our
bodies, and books to enrich our minds. They
include the oldest and largest living things on
earth, and their beauty provides endless
inspiration for poets and painters alike. When I
was looking for a way to teach my young,
quarrelling children to be more kind to each
other, the trees gave me The First Forest.
The Lesson The Trees
was as though the trees said to me,
"We have an idea. We will become actors and
actresses in a story that will let your children
discover it's better to be kind to each other
than to be pushing and shoving and hurting each
other." The First Forest is fable.
The heroes in the story are the Evergreens. The
actors and actresses are the trees you see every
day. May you enjoy their little play. May The
First Forest renew your appreciation and
respect for all the trees. And may you ever be an
sixth edition of The First Forest, ©
2002 by John Gile
Now available in Spanish!
written, this unique fable exquisitely illustrated
tells what happens when greed spoils the beauty
and peace of the very first, perfect forest. This best
selling resource encourages us all to share, to respect
others, and much more." Scholastic of Canada
and recommended for direct and supplementary classroom
use by teachers in language arts, graphic arts, conflict
resolution, peace and environmental issue discussions,
multicultural awareness, well founded self-esteem, school
musical productions, and as a prime example of pourquoi
|Four generations of
elementary school teacher,
classroom of second graders,
high school student,
an elderly woman
provide personal perspectives on The First Forest:
An elementary school teacher's
perspective: a tool for teaching
opened an envelope from a second grade teacher who
said she saw The First Forest as primarily a
story of relationships. She told me that she had decided
to use the story to introduce a class discussion about
how we get along with each other and sometimes
fail to get along. She said she shared the story with her
students, then asked them to retell the story in their
own words as she wrote their words. She also invited the
students to share their thoughts and feelings about the
story and recorded their comments.
creative approach takes full advantage of the
story. The First Forest is a fable. It does not
tell readers what to think, but invites readers to think.
Her note to me included her students' version of the
story and a compilation of the thoughts and feelings they
shared. Her students' observations, some of which follow,
show how well the teacher succeeded in getting them to
think in depth about the story. The second graders'
observations also provide a powerful illustration and
reminder of the sensitivity, understanding, and wisdom of
the children." JG
Listen to the wisdom of the
is what the children reported discovering in The
"Never be selfish and then you'll have a
beautiful world." K.S.
"Don't be selfish. Learn to use your
knowledge wisely. There is no need to fight. You can work
it out. Share your brotherhood with friends."
"Respect the feelings of others."
"Fighting will never solve anything."
"Never be selfish and keep joy within
"When you need to be punished for something
you did wrong, don't ever think it's because they don't
love you. It's because they love you so much and want you
to learn." E.P.
"Even if other people don't care, you should
"Always help the people who get hurt."
"Don't be a know-it-all or a big shot because
this hurts others' feelings. Instead try sometimes to
help others." C.E.
"Learn to talk out your problems. Keep the
"If you get down, just keep hope and you'll
probably be okay." L.H.
"Take the opportunity to live and learn from
what you do." L.G.l
"You should always keep pretty thoughts and
not ugly thoughts in your mind." S.A.
"Just because you're big doesn't mean you are
the best." N.L.
"Don't be jealous because you didn't get
something someone else did. There's always something
special about yourself." D.L.
"Always use a little imagination in your life
and wonder!" K.C.
A high school student's
perspective: "I hope that my
children will read it to their children."
Special thanks to Kathie Ayres,
Scholarship Administrator for the Community Foundation of
Northern Illinois, for sharing the following essay by a
scholarship applicant. Applicants are asked to "Tell
about a book that affected your life." This is a
"The First Forest went with me
everywhere . . ."
book that really affected my life is The
First Forest by John Gile.
The first time I heard the story was when I was in the
second grade and the book was read by Mr. Gile himself
during a "Read! Read! Read!" program at school.
My mother bought a copy as a gift for my sister and me
and we had it signed by the author. I thought it was so
cool to have this book. I wanted it read to me every
First Forest went with me
everywhere. I played school teacher a lot and
would always read it to my pretend students because I
liked the way it rhymed and because it had such awesome
pictures. The most important thing about the book,
though, isn't the pictures. It's the story's lesson. It
taught me that nothing good ever comes from selfishness.
It taught me that when people have generous attitudes and
are peaceful, their lives are rewarded and praised and
they are trusted throughout life . . .
"They are always there for me,
no matter what . . ."
author notes at the end of the book that if at
least one person has a more generous attitude toward
others because he or she reads The First Forest,
he will have succeeded. I know he succeeded because here
I am at 18 with the book displayed on a shelf in my room.
I think of myself as a tree in the forest and my parents
as the tree maker in the story. I know I don't always do
the right things, but they are always there for me, no
matter what, and they always care for me, just like the
First Forest has affected my life
and I will keep it forever. I hope that my children in
the future will read it to their children, for the book
teaches values everyone needs to learn.
The senior perspective: a
woman came up to me at a book store with six
copies of The First Forest in her hands and
asked me to sign them for her. It was the holiday season
and I asked if she wanted me to inscribe a holiday
greeting in the books for each person.
told me the books were not holiday gifts, that The
First Forest had been read at the nursing home where
she works and a woman being cared for there, an elderly
woman who was not expected to live until the holidays,
had decided this was the message she wanted to leave
behind with certain friends who had been very important
in her life.
signed the books in somber silence, grateful for
the honor and privilege of expressing the love in her
heart for her friends." JG