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Book teaches children about importance of salt marshes

By Jessica Luton (University of Georgia)

Athens, Ga. – Over 400 Georgia public libraries received donated copies of an educational children’s book written by University of Georgia department of marine sciences professor Merryl Alber. “And the Tide Comes In” focuses on teaching children about salt marshes.

The book is just one product of the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems (GCE) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project, funded by the National Science Foundation.

“Salt marshes are important for lots of reasons. They provide food and habitat for fish, crabs and many other organisms,” said Alber, the GCE Lead Principal Investigator. “They help clean the water; they store carbon; they provide protection from flooding. They’re also beautiful parts of the landscape.”

The book has been readily available for a few years, but additional funds received this year allowed the project to donate a copy to each of the libraries in the state system.
“This book is part of the Long Term Ecological Research Schoolyard Series, which seeks to engage children and their families in learning about the Earth’s ecosystem,” Alber said. “To date, most of our distribution for this book has been focused on the coast, but working with the library system provides a way to make this book available statewide.”

The book is written with children of all ages in mind. Each page contains two sections—the main story is fairly simple and written for younger children and an accompanying sidebar provides more complex information for older children. Alber also worked with a group of teachers to create supplementary materials for second through seventh grades. The materials are available online at
“Georgia’s public libraries are so grateful to Dr. Merryl Alber for her donation of a copy of her outstanding children’s book to every library in the state,” said State Librarian Julie Walker. “Merryl’s book is a wonderful example of the treasures to be found in the over 400 public libraries throughout Georgia. It’s a particularly valuable addition to the libraries’ collections with its focus on coastal Georgia and its relevance to students of many ages.”

Alber is the director of the UGA Marine Institute on Sapelo Island and has been conducting research on Georgia’s coast for many years, but the idea for the book actually came from a more personal experience.

“I have been doing research and teaching about salt marshes for a long time, but it was really my experience with my son that inspired me to write the book,” she said. “The first time I took him to a marsh, he was so excited to be there, and I saw which things were amazing to him.”

The collaboration is another example of both UGA and the Georgia Public Library Service working hand in hand to achieve the same main goal.

“The Georgia Public Library Service is a unit of the University System of Georgia, and this gift exemplifies our partnership with UGA and the university system as we all work to create a more educated Georgia,” Walker said. “Public libraries play an integral role in lifelong learning and curriculum support in Georgia’s communities. We are grateful that this book will reside in every one of our libraries.”

For more information on other books in the series and the Long Term Ecological Research Schoolyard Series, visit To learn more about the UGA Marine Institute at Sapelo Island and the UGA marine sciences department, visit and For more information on Georgia’s library system, visit