Usually trees get turned into books and not the other way around, but Sourcebooks children’s authors have plans for reforestation. Rachel Griffin’s third YA novel featuring witches, Bring Me Your Midnight, drops in August; until then, with every preorder, she’ll donate $1 to the nonprofit SeaTrees. And as collaborators Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, and Giovanni Rigano visit schools for their newly published graphic novel Global, they will plant 20 trees for every tour stop (10 trees per school will be donated by Colfer directly, with Sourcebooks matching his donation).
Seattle author Griffin builds preorder fundraising into her promotions. Her YA debut, The Nature of Witches, was “a love letter to the Earth,” she said, “so I wanted a cool way to launch it into the world.” She decided to direct some of her proceeds to the nonprofit One Tree Planted, emphasizing that one book equaled one tree. “I tend not to talk about it in terms of the dollar, but in terms of the tangible tree,” she said. Her initiative generated enough funding to plant 2,232 trees in Appalachia, and her success inspired the Global team to designate One Tree Planted as their book tour’s beneficiary, too.
Griffin’s second book, Wild Is the Witch, featured a Northern spotted owl, so the author’s preorder dollars sponsored a spotted owl named Sequoia at WildCare, a rehab center. “She’s a wildlife ambassador for them because she couldn’t survive in the wild,” said Griffin, who met Sequoia on a visit to WildCare’s San Francisco campus. Griffin gave WildCare an advance galley of her book to let them know how she was representing wildlife, and she kept in touch about her fundraising plans. “I run all my language by an organization first, so they feel I am accurately describing the work they do.”
Bring Me Your Midnight is set on an island, so her current preorders support marine ecosystems and coastlines. “I poured all my love for the ocean into this book,” Griffin said. She will donate to SeaTrees—an arm of the 501c3 nonprofit Sustainable Surf—for its international restoration of kelp forests, coral reefs, and mangroves. To put SeaTrees’s work in perspective, Griffin estimated that “1,000 preorders would restore 400 square feet of kelp, and 2,500 preorders would restore 1,000 square feet of kelp.” (Readers may begin to imagine an underwater studio apartment, wall to wall with seaweed stalks.)
Giving back to the Earth caught on with Colfer, Donkin, and Rigano, whose new book Global concerns the impacts of climate change on two communities, one in the Bay of Bengal and the other in the Arctic Circle. “Lots of times, stories of climate change are set in the future, but everything in Global has already happened somewhere,” Donkin said. The authors hope that their protagonists’ intertwining present-day dramas will raise awareness of the environmental crisis and spur action to combat climate emergencies.
With Sourcebooks and One Tree Planted, the creators arranged to plant trees in the U.S., India, and Nova Scotia while sharing the urgent messages in Global with classrooms. They estimate they will make 20 school visits, for a total of 400 trees, aligning their storytelling with tangible action. “Reforestation is one way people can make a difference, planting trees to take carbon out of the atmosphere,” Donkin said.
By attaching charitable giving to book launch events, these authors are broadcasting their messages and sharing the organizations’ missions with their audiences. “It’s definitely becoming more popular, because I’ve had other authors reach out to me and ask how the campaigns are set up,” Griffin said. She marveled, “I did not anticipate how excited my readers would get.” Sharing her environmental commitments has become “a way for me to connect with my readers. It feels like we’re doing this together.”