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Steeple Newsletter

First Church Reads: Can you hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest

"First Church Reads" is a feature section of the Steeple where staff members or members of the church may be invited to offer book and formation recommendations that specifically help deepen spiritual life. This week we have a recommendation from the Environmental Ministry Team (EMT) as a reprint from the Summer 2020 Landmark Newsletter.

by David and Phyllis Whitin on July 08, 2020

"First Church Reads" is a feature section of the Steeple where staff members or members of the church may be invited to offer book and formation recommendations that specifically help deepen spiritual life. This week we have a recommendation from the Environmental Ministry Team (EMT) as a reprint from the Summer 2020 Landmark Newsletter.

Can you hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest
By Peter Wholeben


(Suggested for grades 3 through 5)



Especially with the pandemic families are spending more time outdoors walking in their neighborhoods visiting local parks hiking the many trails we are fortunate to have in our area or just hanging out in one’s yard.

This book can give your family an added focus on these walks. It explores the wonder of tree and their interdependence with all living things. It’s a book that even adults can learn from (at least we did!). Although the book is recommended for children 8 – 10 younger children can be encouraged to pursue to many of the activities in the book such as finding bark that is smooth like skin or rough and wrinkly.Check out the experiment on page 11 exploring a tree’s water vessels.

Find a birch log. Spread some dish detergent over one cut end and then blow hard against the other end. Surprise! The dish detergent will bubble. The air that you blew flowed through the log’s vessels that carry water and nutrients!

This book begins with the engaging comparison of a tree to the human body. Trees breathe drink water eat and even rest. The author includes a series of activity pages. Each is labeled with a question such as “How do trees breathe? How do forests clean water? Why do trees shed their leaves in the fall?” In addition to an explanation there is an invitation to observe more closely and an experiment a challenge quiz question or a suggestion for children to take action to protect trees. We were intrigued with the question, “Do trees have grandparents?”

The explanation describes how often trees grow in pairs or clusters in which their trunks actually merge and their roots intertwine. Now we are looking for examples wherever we go!The chapters can be read in any order. We would suggest paging the book and choosing a question that is particularly intriguing to your family. We have found in our work with children that when they look closely at the natural world their wonder and appreciation for it increases and this wonder inspires a commitment to protect and advocate to environmental stewardship.

David and Phyllis Whitin,
Environmental Ministry Team (EMT)

Click here to read the full Steeple Newsletter from July 8, 2020. 

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