The environment and the world around us are things that we should always be paying attention to. As a community, we make a big deal about Earth Day in April, but every day is earth day. Fortunately, there are a lot of picture book authors who are thinking the same thing and coming out with some really wonderful books. Here are a few to get your collection going.
Start reading The Dancing Trees by Masiana Kelly (11/2/21 by Inhabit media) and you will think that it is just an innocent story. Actually, it is a little reminder to kids that we need to treat the earth with respect wrapped up in a very fun story about a boy who tells tale tales. In this story, a young boy likes to tell tall tales filled with braggadocio. His friends get sick of these stories and call him out on it. To prove that his stories are true, he accepts a challenge to spend a night alone in the forest. Think the trees aren’t alive? Think again, for they have heard Thomas and decide to make him learn about the environment he lives in.
The Wisdom of Trees is a lyrical and informational nonfiction picture book that tells the story of trees and the hidden ecosystems they create. Aimed at 7-12 year olds, this beautifully illustrated nonfiction book will be adored by kids interested in the environment. It is a reminder that trees are a part of a larger ecosystem. From concepts such as how the trees provide homes, control the climate, and provide food for all around them, this book has a wealth of information in it.
Also for older kids 8+, the stunning Can You Hear the Trees Talking?: Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest by Peter Wohlleben is a must. This book is a nature book as well as a science book with interactive elements to get kids out discovering for themselves. Working almost like a narrative nonfiction title, Wohlleben does a marvelous job of giving lots of information for kids but presented in a fun manner. Chapters like “How Trees Work,” “Friends and Enemies in the Forest,” and “A Year in the Forest,” budding scientists can gather all of the information that they need a bunch they didn’t realize was even out there.
A very interesting book published a few years ago is Strange Trees and the Stories Behind Them. This unusual book takes a look at the lesser known trees and what makes them so unique. For the child that wants to dig deeper, this book allows them to find out about trees that are not talked about very often, from the mindanao gum tree that looks like it has been painted in rainbows to the sandbox tree that makes explosions that sound like dynamite. An education not only in unique trees, but in the countries that they are found.
Trees: Kings of the Forest is a fun and informational book is from the series Science Comics. This whole series is outstanding, utilizing the graphic novel format and a slightly comedic manner to inform kids about various aspects of the scientific world. In this version, a little acorn learns the value of trees from a little frog. Trees do so much more than just sit there, a great message for little acorn as well as little minds.
To get a better understanding of how trees provide shelter to animals, the forthcoming book A Tree Is a Home by Pamela Hickman and Zafouko Yamamoto (9/7/21 from Kids Can Press) succeeds in giving a ton of information combined with fun illustrations to keep younger readers entranced. This book follows six animals that share one tree as a home. We are able to see how they use the tree and how the changing seasons impact everything. This is a great way to learn about trees and habitats and is aimed at K-3 grades.
I happened upon the book Trillions of Trees by Kurt Cyrus and was more pleased with it than I thought I would be. The cover says that it is a “counting and planting book,” something that I expect means it is aimed at preschoolers, even though it doesn’t look like it. What it is instead is an ode to the tree in all of its varieties. When a young girl winds up with a trillion trees instead of trillium seeds, she and her brother wind up planting trees all over town. They are used to beautify, for food, for shade, replenishing those cut, and for safety. It is an unusual look at the wealth of trees and what they provide.
Verlie Hutchins and Jing Jing Tsong present a beautiful look at nature in their book Trees. This book brings trees to life in a different, personifying them in terms of how their branches move and grow. Rather than focusing on their trunks or their leaves, this really looks at the whole tree and helps young readers see them in a different light. Younger audiences can even stand up and be the trees, dancing on their tippy toes like an Aspen or palms up and stretching to the sky like an oak. Great for preschoolers and kindergarten.
Finally, for young children learning about the life cycle of trees, the new book Before we Stood Tall: From Small Seed to Mighty Tree by Jessica Kolekjran (9/7/21 by Kids Can Press) functions much like a version of the house that Jack built. While I was not enamored with the book on my first read through, the concept is fascinating and was definitely better on a second read. In this book, Kolekjran shows how trees interact with the world around them at all different stages of development. The book also has great backmatter to give older kids additional information.