Thank You, Earth

I completely missed Earth Day and Tu B’Shvat this year because I was in over my head with my MLIS. But in reality, we should be making every day earth day and we need to make sure that the next generation understands the many ways that they can make the world a better place. There are more and more books being published that focus on this, but I thought I would focus on a few.

I Have a Right to Save my Planet by Alain Serres is an important reminder that there is a delicate balance happening on earth between humans and everything else. Serres flat out tells people to wake up and make some changes or certain animals will go extinct. Our “need” for cheap, shelf-stable foods impacts various parts of the world. Even if you don’t see it happening, it is. Serres also reminds kids that sometimes they are more aware of these problems than adults and they should stand up for the earth that they are inheriting. Kids are encouraged to ask big questions and consider what they can do. An outstanding book! Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Groundwood Books for a digital review copy.

In this unique environmental story, Sippy the plastic straw shows readers how harmful straws can be. Zoe Matthiessen highlights the damage that little things can do to our environment in The Last Straw. We don’t often think about straws because they are small and convenient, but they are rarely recycled. It isn’t just straws, many plastic conveniences are hurting our ecosystem. From land to sea, children are shown examples of animals and nature being harmed. A tough but necessary lesson. The back of the book includes tips to help cut down on plastic usage.

April Pulley Sayre brings all of the reasons that our earth is special together in a beautiful book of photography entitled Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to our Planet. Told through simple photography and a limited number of words, Sayre writes an ode to earth – to the big and the small, the good and the bad, the animals and colors that constantly amaze us. The photographs are absolutely breathtaking. Sayre goes into amazing details on some of the photographs and captures all of the things that we should remember to be thankful for on Earth Day and every day. Sayre also writes an important note at the end that it isn’t enough to just say thank you, we need to show our appreciation by doing something to help care and preserve our earth. She gives many examples of how people with a variety of strengths can use those skills to make a difference.

The Last Tree, by Emiliy Haworth-Booth, is an eco-fable with the feel of an instant classic, while also being topical in the current environmental and political climate. In a similar vein to The Lorax, this book has a group of friends who are looking for a place to call home. When they find the perfect spot, it just so happens to be in the forest. As anyone might want, the friends soon wanted to build shelters which continued to get bigger and bigger, cutting down more and more of the trees. When winds came in the spring and were no longer softened by the trees, their solution was to build a wall (when does that ever work?). But they forgot that in order for the world to continue to exist and be comfortable, we need to treat the trees as friends. We need sun and rain and shade. We need trees for oxygen and food. Of course it is the children who get frustrated with their walled in lives and who have the potential to fix what the earlier generations had damaged. A beautiful way to show the power of children and the importance of protecting our environment.

It almost seems silly to mention We are Water Protectors given the acclaim it already has, but it is a very important book about the earth and water. Inspired by the many indigenous movements to protect the land from oil pipelines, this stunningly illustrated book shows how the “black snake” of the oil pipelines can harm our earth. It focuses on the fact that we have to speak up for all of the things harmed when pipelines are put in without consideration to the land. The book ends with the water protector’s pledge which says many things but comes down to this – “I will always remember to treat the Earth as I would like to be treated.”

For a charming tale showing a badger gone batty, Emily Garrett gives us Tidy. In this story, Pete the badger is a neat freak, and as much as we would love our kids to be tidy, Pete takes it too far. He tries to clean up the forest and winds up destroying the whole thing, even destroying his own house in the process. Kids will find this a very funny tale and know that what Pete is doing is extreme, but they will enjoy watching him do one thing only to then decide he has to clean up something else because of that. It is a great look at cause and effect while also showing the importance of the environment as a whole – for food, homes, and beauty. A fun book for K-2.

For the child who wants facts instead of fiction, they will adore What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet by Jess French. Full of images, this book breaks down all of the issues that are facing our environment because of the waste that humans produce. But not to be a downer, it also shows a variety of ways that we can change our habits and help heal our earth. Great information about deforestation, pollution of all kinds, where our various types of waste go and more. The imagery helps lure the reader in and the information is excellently organized and worded for younger audiences. This is a must have!

The younger child hungry for facts, Catherine Barr and Steve Williams have put together an outstanding book aimed at grades K-3. The Story of Climate Change takes the reader from the formation of the earth’s atmosphere to today and beyond. While it acknowledges that if we don’t do anything, there can be catastrophic results, it gives us hope and encourages our young generation to step up and do something. What I especially enjoy about this book is that it helps create the timeline and illustrate that the issues that we are facing now have slowly developed as the world has developed. It reminds us that “Through our mistakes, we now understand that it’s important to treat nature gently, rather than destroy it.” A fabulous find.

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