Three Books That Teach Kids About Florida Ecosystems

I was provided with a copy of An Afternoon in Mosquito Lagoon, A New Home For An Old Friend – Responsible Aquarium Stewardship, and The Mangrove Tree Top to Bottom, Bottom to Top . However all opinions are my own.

the mangrove tree

One of the beautiful illustrations from The Mangrove Tree – Top to Bottom, Bottom to Top.

We love living in Southwest Florida and one of our favorite things, besides the wonderful climate, is that we live in an area that has some truly unique ecosystems.   Southwest Florida contains both temperate and tropical plant communities, including sawgrass prairies, mangrove and cypress swamps, pinelands and hardwood hammocks, along with marine and estuarine environments filled with wildlife.  Unfortunately many of these coastal ecosystems are threatened by human activities.

It is so important for our children to learn all about the natural world that surrounds them and how their decisions affect those ecosystems and unique environments.  It’s not just about preserving the natural beauty of our Southwest Florida beaches, estuaries and other natural habitats, it’s also about understanding that our own survival depends on taking care of the environment.  That is why I was trilled to find the Sea Tales books.  Founded by Suzie Caffery and Diahn Escue , Sea Tales Inc. focuses on Florida environmental education with an emphasis on environmental stewardship providing educational outreach services for teachers and students in local public schools.

Suzie Caffery and Diahn Escue have also co-written three science based children’s storybooks, An Afternoon in Mosquito Lagoon, A New Home For An Old Friend – Responsible Aquarium Stewardship, and The Mangrove Tree Top to Bottom, Bottom to Top.  These books provide a fun and engaging way to teach children about our local environment and how to protect it.

The Mangrove Tree – Top To Bottom, Bottom To Top

The mangrove wetland is a unique setting that provides habitat, or home, for a variety of animals that are all completely dependent on the mangroves for the food, water,and shelter that they provide. Unfortunately mangrove forests are threatened by human activities and protecting them is critical to prevent the extinction of this essential ecosystem.  The Mangrove Tree takes young readers through a day in the life of the red mangrove tree.  While the tides flow in and out, out and in the animals that live in and around the mangrove go from top to bottom and from bottom to top.

The Mangrove Tree

My little guy holding a copy of the Mangrove Tree at the Rotary Park Environmental Center near our home.

Red mangroves grow around the equator, wrapping their protection around the world.  When I moved to Florida from Guatemala I loved finding mangrove forests just like the ones we have in Guatemala.  Mangroves hold a very special place in my heart as I remember countless holidays spent at our house on the beach when I was a child and how we would play in the canal paddling our inflatable boat from one mangrove islands to another, hunting for blue crabs in their roots and admiring coastal birds in their branches.

This book with it’s repetitive rhyming text and its beautiful mixed media collage illustrations by Bianca Escue was the perfect way to teach my kids all about the mangroves and the animals that make it it’s home.  The book includes an introductions filled with information about the mangrove forests and it’s importance and at the end you will find a description of each of the animals mentioned in the book.

An Afternoon in Mosquito Lagoon

The Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve is located in southern on the east coast of central Florida. The Mosquito Lagoon is one of the state’s most pristine water bodies. Thousands of acres of shallow seagrass beds, mangrove-covered islands, sand bars, and natural channels characterize the area’s natural habitats which feature a wide variety of fish and wildlife species. The eastern oyster is one of the lagoons most important species, thought by many to be the keystone for Mosquito Lagoon’s survival is currently in trouble.

an afternoon in Mosquitoe Lagoon

An afternoon in Mosquito Lagoon.

This book illustrates the importance of oyster beds in Mosquito Lagoon, how these play a crucial part in the lagoon’s ecosystem and how we can help protect the oysters by being cautious around oyster beds.  Through bright and colorful illustrations paired with and easy to read and fun text both my kids and I learned a lot about the importance of oyster beds and about Mosquito Lagoon.  The book also includes and introduction with information about Mosquito Lagoon and it’s importance and at the end you will find information about each of the animal species that are highlighted in the story.


A New Home for an Old Friend – Responsible Aquarium Stewardship

In Florida most of us are aware of the negative effects of invasive species.  Many of these species that ended up in the wild where pets that where released when their owners could not keep them any longer.  A New Home for an Old Friend – Responsible Aquarium Stewardship was born out of the need to explain to children the importance of not releasing pets and plants from their fish tanks.  A girl who is moving needs to figure out what to do with her fish and the plants in her aquarium as she can not take them along to her new home.  The book illustrates the devastating results to the environment when the seaweed Caulerpa and the spiky lionfish where released by humans in the coastal waters.

A New Home for an Old Friend

The book also provides responsible alternatives to release.  My children really identifies with this book as we own an aquarium at home and it had never occurred to them that a species released into the “wrong” ecosystem could damage it.  This book really sparked conversations about how ecosystems work and how every animal and plant has their place.

About the Authors

Suzie Caffery and Duahn Escue have over 30 years teaching experience and their passion is to share the enjoyment of natural Florida with young children.  Their expertise is merging technical science into a fun-loving, whimsical format with formal and hands-on activities that are appropriate for elementary school children.  You can read more about them and about their books by visiting www.SeaTalesInc.com.  Like them their Facebook page to stay up to date with their latest adventures.

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About the author

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Paula is a freelance writer, translator & marketer. She started her writing & publishing career as the editor of Bebé y Mamá, the first parenting magazine in Guatemala. She is the founder of www.GrowingUpBilingual.com and www.365thingsswfl.com and writes articles in Spanish and English for both magazines and the web on subjects ranging from travel and food to parenting and bilingualism. She enjoys traveling, good food and is always in search of new things to do and in Southwest Florida.


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  1. Michele

    I have an environmental science degree and could not agree with you more! Ecosystems all over the world need to be protected! I am so happy to hear that these authors have penned books for children explaining the sensitive Florida ecosystems. I have no children or would definitely enter this. I hope all Moms and Dads do enter–these are important lessons for their children to learn.

  2. Chubskulit Rose

    Wow, I’d like to have a copy of this book. MY kids would surely like to read it.
    Chubskulit Rose recently posted…SwingMy Profile

  3. becca

    these books sounds good
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  4. Tingting R.

    I live in Florida, but I live about 5 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. So far, I have not been in any area that grows those trees you mentioned. I remember though, in the Philippines, environmentalist plant mangroves as sanctuary for fishes.
    Tingting R. recently posted…Indulging in Sugar-Free Bakery GoodiesMy Profile

  5. April McGregor

    This is an awesome book! It’ll teach kids the importance of mangrove tress in the ecosystem.
    April McGregor recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  6. Alison Rigsbsy

    These look like really cute, educational books! My tots would love these.
    Alison Rigsbsy recently posted…Summer Favorites: The Balm Staining BlushMy Profile

  7. Nova S

    This is great to teach our kids about our environment.
    Nova S recently posted…E-cigarettes might be a good alternativeMy Profile

  8. Karina Fernández (@consaboraKaFe)

    Great giveaway. There´s always something to learn
    Karina Fernández (@consaboraKaFe) recently posted…No te pierdas la nueva serie #RelacionesPeligrosas y gana 1 camisetaMy Profile

  9. Natalia

    Qué lindo libro! Sé que a mi sobrina le encantaría leerlo!
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  10. Adriana- Hogar-Mujer

    Se ven muy interesantes estos libros, muchas gracias por el sorteo!!
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  11. Gina Morano

    Que lindo, muy buen sorteo 🙂

  12. Adriana Martin (@AsBestRecipes)

    Pero que lindos estan estos libros me gustaron para mi nieto!
    Adriana Martin (@AsBestRecipes) recently posted…KitchenAid® Savory Deal #SavorTheSavings #adMy Profile

  13. Mayra - Estilo Familiar

    Buenísimo los libros. Bien lindo y educativos.
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  14. Romina Mamá XXI

    Que buenos se ven los libritos, muy educativos!
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  15. Diana Rodriguez - Entre Compras y El Hogar

    Me Encantaron!!! Estan preciosos!!
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  16. Lennie

    What a beautiful books! Muy importante el enseñar a nuestro hijos la importancia de conservar el ambiente.
    Lennie recently posted…Cómo mantego a mi familia saludableMy Profile

  17. S. Yissele

    Me encantan estos libros para mi Pequeña, muchas gracias por la información y el sorteo!

    ¡FELIZ DÍA!ॐ
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  18. Teresa Garza

    Me parecen excelente regalos de Navidad para mis sobrinos.. ya voy para el sorteo..
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  19. Veronica Cervera

    Que lindos los libros. Me meto también al sorteo a ver si tengo la suerte de regalarlos a los niños de mis amigas.
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  20. Alejandra Ramirez

    Que chulo! I want it!
    Alejandra Ramirez recently posted…Comment on Seguro de salud al alcance de todos #healthcareSWGCFL by Maybelline ValentiMy Profile

  21. nina

    que padre! me encanta que esos libros estan dedicados al ecosystem de tu region! i love books that are about the city one lives in 😉
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