Penned by UD students, new book about Dayton’s rivers available for quarantined kids

Dayton’s kids can now learn all about the region’s river system in a beautiful way through the eyes of a majestic blue heron.

The 2020 cohort of University of Dayton River Stewards created a colorful children’s book, “Into the River,” to inspire children’s literacy and educate local youth about the importance of rivers in the greater Dayton area.

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Sixteen seniors wrote, illustrated and designed the book, which incorporates local landmarks, fundamental watershed education and native species, according to a release.

Rachel Carr, a senior from Centerville studying political science and the project’s programming lead, said the project ended differently than their cohort expected, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the start of the outbreak led to the decision to make the book digitally available for everyone to read with their children.

“I think we’re seeing right now in this crisis, teachers are really eager to incorporate new resources and new methods into their learning its just a matter of having access,” Carr said.

A free online flip book version of Into the River can be found at, with additional activities and coloring pages about the rivers and watershed that can be printed for children.

Written for the third-grade reading level, the picture book takes readers on a colorful journey through the Great Miami River.

The group printed 2,400 copies of the book they originally planned to distribute throughout Dayton and neighboring communities.

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“We still have that plan but as soon as we left campus, we realized we weren’t going to be able to distribute the books in person and we realized we had a great opportunity to share this book digitally,” Carr said.

The group also hopes to distribute several hundred books to the City of Dayton Water Festival participant teachers, local libraries and elementary schools.

“I see this book as a great way for students to ‘take home’ their education,” Carr said. “We hope that the story transforms general scientific concepts into local, meaningful and memorable stories. Children are powerful influencers in the community and can help our mission of stewardship. Their education and involvement in these issues is vital to our whole community.”

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