Children’s Literature, Stewardship, & Fly Fishing: Down by the River

From author Andrew Weiner, featuring artist April Chu:

How do we engage children in the outdoors and help create a new generation of environmental stewards? We do it with stories and activities that invite them to explore and enjoy nature and to become participants in the natural world. Then, we must bring those children into nature where they can experience it firsthand.

In my book Down By the River: A Family Fly Fishing Story I share the story of a boy, his mother, and his grandfather spending a day fly fishing—their favorite pastime. From the river where they fish, to the osprey seeking a meal, the hatching bugs, and beautiful rainbow and brown trout, the sport of fly fishing offers a multitude of ways to learn about the natural world.

I began writing Down By the River more than fifteen years ago and it was published in 2018. Over those fifteen years my own environmental activism and education has grown, and my support of organizations that work on behalf of natural resources and conservation has grown as well. The participation of entire families in the sport of fly fishing has grown, too. The #5050onthewater movement, which encourages women to become fly anglers, and supports them in encouraging even more women to participate, has been documented widely ( The participation of women is a great sign that fly fishing remains a vital and equitable activity, and more families than ever will be enjoying the sport.

It seems like environmental stewardship is cyclical. After decades of hard work by individuals, organizations, and government that seemed to safeguard our country’s beauty and natural resources, as well as the health and safety of our citizens, we now are faced with the rapid removal of those protections. Hope should not be lost, though. Just as we are faced with current challenges we can also trust that the fight for the environment is never lost. We need to continue to work on its behalf. The future of our planet is at stake. Every child that we can educate and engage with a love of and appreciation for the beauty and joys of the natural world can also fight for our future. It’s my hope that my book Down By the River can be a part of that education, engagement, and inspiration.


What are others saying about this great book?

Voices from the River: Book connects kids with fly fishing
Author Andrew Weiner and artist April Chu have produced a book that could help whet the appetite of youngsters you hope will share your love for fly fishing. Down by the River, released this week by Abrams Books, is a beautiful book documenting a day of fishing by a young boy named Art, his mother and his grandfather.
— Trout Unlimited

I read Down by the River to my five-year-old granddaughter before fishing the next day. She loved it. It added a lot of excitement and knowledge to her fishing experience.
— Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Inc.


Do you know of other wonderful children’s books that promote stewardship or other environmental education values? We’d love to hear about them!

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