Today is Earth Day. A day for us to collectively demonstrate our support for environmental protection. It has also become a day where we are able to teach our children that we are all responsible for this earth and that we all need to take care of it. This isn’t the one day a year that we protect our earth, but it is a good day to get kids started on a lifetime of protecting the earth and making good choices about products they use and practices they put into place.
There are tons of books out there celebrating the earth. This grouping is just eight that we happen to enjoy and have relatively easy access to. If you have others that are favorites, we are always happy to see those added into the comments section so that this can be a place for people to come back to when looking for earth day appropriate titles.
We are Extremely Very Good Recyclers – In this edition of the wonderful Charlie and Lola series, Lola learns about recycling. When Lola tells her brother that she is going to get rid of her excess stuff, Charlie suggests that she recycle them instead. Since Lola doesn’t know what recycling means, Charlie explains that it is “a way that people can reuse old things in a different and new-ish way.” As with all of the Charlie and Lola books, Charlie does a great job explaining new ideas to Lola. Lola gets excited about recycling and passes that on to her friends. In the end, they are all able to do another wonderful thing for our earth – plant a new tree.
The Lorax – An Earth Day classic, originally published in 1971. Dr. Seuss does so many things right in this book it is hard to know where to start. He begins with a desolate, run-down bleak landscape and then as he explains that long, long ago things were much different, you are presented with gorgeous, bright imagery. As the Once-ler’s business grows the Lorax shows the repercussions of each act until there is nothing left for the Lorax to protect. Then Dr. Seuss makes sure that his readers know it is their job to help protect their earth with the quote that we all now know – “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
How to Help the Earth – by the Lorax – While we’re on Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, after the movie came out in 2012, a slew of new books based on the character emerged. I purchased this one for a story time on Earth Day and it features the Lorax explaining about landfills and smog and what we can do to reduce our environmental footprint. While it isn’t the classic Dr. Seuss book, it is a great way to help kids understand what they can do.
Why Should I Recycle? – For the younger set, Jen Green has written a great book that explains what recycling is and why we should do it. By giving concrete examples of how new things can be made from recycled goods, kids can understand the value of recycling. While it doesn’t show the larger concept of protecting our earth, it is a great place to start.
Earth Day – Hooray! – For the slightly older crowd, this book is a fun mixture of pitching in for your neighborhood, factoids of information about the environment and a mathematical challenge that runs throughout the book. A group of kids is trying to clean up a local park and realize that if they recycle the cans they find in the park, they can turn them in for money and purchase flowers to plant and spruce the park up a bit. They realize that a few kids can’t do it on their own and in a wonderful show of leadership and the value of team-work decide to get their entire community involved.
A Tree is a Plant – From the wonderful “Let’s Read and Find Out Science” series, that teaches children about trees and how they grow. Not necessarily an “Earth Day” book, but it is always important to bring up the scientific aspect of trees.
We Planted a Tree – This book is a simple poem that is illustrated to show two very different families from very different parts of the world (New York and Kenya), planting trees and then watching them grow. As the trees flourish, so do the families. The book also travels around the world showing many different cultures enjoying the beauty and beneficial aspects of trees – green leaves that cool us as well as the world, clean air, and food. It shows how planting a tree can impact the growth of other plants that nourish us as well. “We planted a tree, and that one tree made the world better. We planted a tree, and that one tree helped heal the earth.” Simple. Beautiful. Perfect.
A Tree is Nice – As I had discussed back in my post for Tu B’Shevat, this classic picture book touches upon the innate beauty of a tree and the many things that trees are able to give us and the world around us. At the very end of the book it gently persuades the reader to plant trees and watch them grow.
I covered many books back in January when I wrote about Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the trees. All of those books are also wonderful for Earth Day although Happy Birthday, Tree! stands out due to it’s repeated efforts to give back to the trees and protect the environment. The book begins and ends with a beautiful tree showing ways to help the earth.