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8 Children's Books Perfect for Earth Day

By Emma Zaratian • April 15, 2019

Plant a Seed Now…

Teaching kids to appreciate the wonders of nature isn't hard—most little ones are fascinated by bright flowers, furry animals, roaring waves, even cloud formations. But instilling a sense of environmental stewardship in young people can be a bit more challenging. And the inevitable questions about conservation, pollution, endangered wildlife habitats, and climate change aren't always easy to answer. These books will help kids make the connections between the world and their actions—and hopefully encourage them to reduce waste, recycle, protect nature, and appreciate the great outdoors.

Preschool & Kindergarten (Ages 2-5)

Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland

In Big Bear Hug, a sweet, friendly bear walks through the forest hugging fellow animals and trees. He's showing his love "hug by hug." Suddenly he comes upon a human cutting down a tree—and it throws the furry tree-hugger for a loop. This funny little tale not only touches upon preservation, but also the power of kindness and compassion.

We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow

In the form of a soothing poem, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of two different families in two very different places (New York and Kenya) who each plant a tree. As the trees flourish, so do the families, reaping the rewards of the trees: clean air, fruit, shade, and enriched soil. Although the story's primary gist is the importance of trees, We Planted a Tree also teaches children about interconnectedness around the globe.

The Earth Book by Todd Parr

Starting with the positive sentiment, "I take care of the earth because I know I can do little things every day to make a BIG difference," The Earth Book empowers toddlers and preschoolers with easy conservation ideas—from recycling cans and paper to turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth. To underscore its environmental message, the book itself is made with recycled materials and non-toxic soy ink.

Grades 1-3 (Ages 6-8)

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre

Written and photographed by the prolific children's author April Pulley Sayre, Thank You, Earth layers beautiful words of gratitude atop stunning photos of animals, plants, and natural landscapes. Using rhythmic, carefully crafted verses to explore our world's intricate web of weather, shapes, patterns, and ecosystems, this relatively new book (2018) provides a vivid introduction to poetry, nature, science, and geography. A great read for bedtime or in the classroom.

Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter

Wangari's Trees of Peace tells the true tale of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who returned home from studying in the U.S. to find her country's forests being destroyed by severe deforestation. Wangari employs the help of other Kenyan women to start planting trees—and soon sparks a nationwide movement. Simplified for a younger audience, the story is one of inspiration and "being the change" you want to see in the world.

Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers

What looks like a classroom textbook on the lifecycle of waste is just as easily an engaging home-learning tool, especially for curious kids wondering why everything has to be carefully separated before it goes to the curb. Where Does the Garbage Go? teaches kids about the after-life of everything we dispose of, whether that process entails recycling, composting, incinerating, or sending to the landfill. Just don't be shocked if your kids want to build a compost in the backyard after this one!

Grades 4-6 (Ages 9-11)

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul

Based on the true story of Isatou Ceesay, the "Queen of Recycling in the Gambia," One Plastic Bag follows Isatou's inspiring journey from collecting the ugly bags littered around her village to crocheting them into beautiful purses—a project that eventually brought economic independence to many of the women in her village. While the book's thrust is the concept of upcycling plastic debris, young minds will also recognize the lessons of perseverance and communal good.

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss

The role of water on our planet is epic—from quenching our thirst to sprouting seeds to providing habitat for water creatures. One Well brings awareness to this life-critical element and explains the close-knit relationships between rain and snow, rivers and lakes, the oceans, and glaciers. While the text can be dense at times, the beautifully detailed illustrations will pull kids back in and foster a deep interest in water cycles and water conservation.

Whether you choose one or more of the titles above or go with another of the many environmentally conscious books out there, we hope you enjoy Earth Day with your children. There's so much to talk about as we prepare the next generation for the world ahead! Keep the conversation going and let us know below which of your favorite kids' books we missed.

We're focusing on green living all month long, so like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest for more great tips and must-reads.

Read more by Emma Zaratian

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Childrens | Gardening
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