‘Save Our Sand Dunes’ children’s book spotlights the role of kids in saving Jockey’s Ridge

By on February 23, 2024

(Courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History)

In 2016, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History began a children’s book series aimed at preserving and promoting North Carolina History. Their latest installment, distributed by the University of North Carolina Press, is on a topic near and dear to Outer Banks residents.

It’s the story of one local family, Carolista Baum and her three children, and how they saved the sand dunes and successfully crusaded to have them protected as what we now know as Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

The book, called Save Our Sand Dunes, which is now available for pre-order and will be in local book shops in May, is the sixth in the series from the Office of Archives and History. It is written by local historic non-fiction writer and author of the book Remarkable Women of the Outer Banks, Hannah Bunn West, and was written in collaboration with Baum’s daughter, and one of the main characters of the story herself, Ann-Cabell Baum.

The story of Carolista Baum is well known on the Outer Banks, but this book highlights the lesser-known part of the story.

“I think it really lends itself to a book for children because children are some of the main characters in the story,” says West.

It is commonly known that Carolista Baum laid down in front of the bulldozers in 1973, mobilized the community and relentlessly lobbied local and state leaders to save the dunes and designate Jockey’s Ridge as a state park in 1975. But this book also tells the tale of how it was her three children, Ann-Cabell, Inglis, and Gibbs Baum, who saw the bulldozers where they often played at Jockey’s Ridge and ran home to tell their mom and urged her to save them.

“A big part of the message in the book for kids is that your voice matters. And even though you’re young or small, or there’s only a few of you, the things you really care about you can speak up for, and try to make change,” says West.

“My siblings and I are excited to share our mom’s story through Save our Sand Dunes,” Ann-Cabel Baum told the Voice. “Being part of the storytelling process brought back so many memories of summers climbing Jockey’s Ridge and racing each other down…and up again and rolling down. And then to get rid of some of the sand in our ears and hair, swims in the ocean after work with our mom.”

This will be West’s first children’s book, and she hadn’t thought it would be possible because it’s an especially hard market to break into. When the NC Office of Archives and History reached out to her to see if she’d be interested, West was told that George Barnes, who was the first Ranger in charge and first Superintendent of Jockey’s Ridge State Park, had recommended her after being impressed by her chapter on Baum in Remarkable Women of the Outer Banks.

“I was so excited,” says West, who has two young children herself.

West was also asked to create lesson plans, activities and other curriculum that will be used by teachers for their NC history units along with the book. As a former teacher who is still certified, this was first time West was able to blend those the professional worlds of writing and teaching.

“I love telling anyone who wants to listen about local history, but especially kids. I love kids hearing stories about where they’re from, or where they grew up, or even if they just moved there,” she says. West added that the process of writing the book was a fun change because it was more light-hearted and gave her more creative freedom in adapting her research in an entertaining way that kids would enjoy.

The book is in good company, with the other books in the Archives and History series, including: The Life and Times of Thomas Wolfe, an Asheville native who took the literary world by storm with Look Homeward, Angel; We Who Believe in Freedom: The Life and Times of Ella Baker, a civil rights leader from Littleton NC; and Longneedle, which tells the story of the longleaf pine savannas of the North Carolina Coastal Plain. But Save our Sand Dunes will be the first that discusses the power of collective environmental activism.

“I’m just really happy to be able to get it out there into young readers’ hands because it’s a message of environmental advocacy and that you’re not ever too young to do it,” says West. “Younger generations are going to be inheriting this planet and unfortunately, the older generations haven’t taken very good care of it. So it’s about getting them excited about that and letting them know that they have power and that their voice matters.”



  • Linda OBX

    Congratulations Hannah! You are perfect for this opportunity. Thank you for accepting the challenge. Saving our environment is such an important topic and children understand they can make a difference. I can’t wait to read and share your book.

    Friday, Feb 23 @ 11:41 am
  • Patti Bourexis

    Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this worthwhile story to press!

    Friday, Feb 23 @ 11:48 am
  • Freenusa

    I first walked Jockey’s Ridge ridge in July of 1968, walking from an awesome rental cottage on pilings over the sound, down Sound Side Rd. I last walked Jockey’s week before last, as I have done somewhat regularly since 2019. It is a NC treasure, may it always be protected.

    Friday, Feb 23 @ 10:52 pm