One of the most rewarding ways to celebrate Earth Day is by educating others. As the effects of climate change become more evident each day, more and more authors and illustrators have come to action and created beautiful books to teach the youth about the importance of protecting our planet. We know it’s future generations that will be most affected.
Enjoy this list of 14 picture books that are as diverse as our planet. Many of these I use in my own classroom. I have included websites to order these books, but I encourage you to contact your local bookstores first. During this uncertain time it’s so important for us to be supporting small businesses. Let’s try our best to get these books in the hands of little ones, because as we know, the future of our world is in their hands.
We Planted a Tree
By Diane Muldrow, Illustrated by Bob Staake
In this poetic book two families living in two very different parts of the world plant a tree. They watch as the trees grow along with their families, and how the trees give them cleaner air, soil, and food to eat. This sweet book teaches young ones about the importance of our natural resources.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
“People thought I was too young and that women couldn’t be leaders. I took these things as challenges; they gave me more power. I didn’t call out the problems– I called out the solutions” says Isatou Ceesay of her recycling efforts. Real life hero Isatou Ceesay began a movement in Gambia to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community. This is one of my favorite books to read on Earth Day and during Women’s History Month!
The Earth Book
By Todd Park
The Earth Book is the perfect eco friendly book for littles, sine it’s made entirely out of recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks. This book gives lots of simple ideas to protect our environment, in a way that is easily accessible to kids. Although idea #10 may raise some eyebrows. This national best seller also includes a free GO GREEN poster!
How to Help the Earth- by the Lorax
By Tish Rabe, Illustrated by Christopher Moroney & Jan Gerardi
While Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax will always be one of the quintessential Earth Day books, I really enjoy this educational spin off in the Step into Reading series. While Seuss’ book mainly spells out the problems, How to Help the Earth is a guide book that serves as the solution. With charming Seuss style cartoons and rhymes, children with love these easy tips for Earth Day.
I Am Earth
By Rebecca & James Donald
I read I Am Earth every year during my class’ space science unit and kids always love it! This fun animated book is the perfect introduction to our our planet. It informs children of all the basis of Earth science, while also encouraging environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace
By Jeanette Winter
This beautifully illustrated book tells the true story of Wangari Maathai, the environmental activist who witnesses the devastating effects of deforestation on her childhood home in Kenya. Wangari was determined and started by planting seedlings, which would grow along with her plans for action. The story of this Nobel Peace Prize winner is an inspiration to anyone with a cause.
What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet
By Jess French
Did you know that by the year 2050, there will be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish? This is one of many facts young ones are asked to consider in What a Waste. This book will teach young environmentalists how our everyday actions affect our planet. This book is also made with sustainable materials!
The Water Princess
By Susan Verde, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Clean water is scarce in Gie Gie’s African village. Every day Gie Gie journeys to collect water and clean it. She dreams of one day having crystal clear water for her whole village to drink. Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, this wonderfully illustrated book will educate children about natural resources around the world, and how not everyone has the same access as we do to something as simple as clean water.
My Friend Earth
By Patricia MacLachlan, Illustrated by Franesca Sanna
This beautiful book is a celebration of Earth and nature. Every pages features colorful and surreal illustrations and is written by the Newbury award winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall. In My Friend Earth a young girl explores the diverse nature of our planet and all its splendor. It reads like a poetic love letter to our Earth.
Save the Ocean
By Bethany Stahl
This book is to support budding ocean conservationists. This beautifully written and illustrated tale follows two ocean creature friends and teaches young readers about plastic pollution and how to protect our oceans. This is the first book in Bethany Stahl’s Save the Earth series, which also includes Save the Arctic, Save the Bees, and Save the Land!
Recycle! A Handbook for Kids
By Gail Gibbons
I’m a huge fan of Gail Gibbons, and use her informative books in my classroom all year long. In Recycle! Gibbons explains the process of recycling from start to finish, and includes interesting facts and tips for young recyclers and environmental activities.
This is Our World
By Emily Sollinger, Illustrated by Jo Brown
This charming little interactive board book teaches children how to recycle, reduce pollution, and more. It includes two puzzles and is made with 70% recycled materials!
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling
This diary from a plastic bottle asks kids to consider recycling from the bottle’s perspective. In this humorous book kids will learn about each step in the recycling journey of a plastic bottle in a way that they can relate to. There is also The Adventures of an Aluminum Can!
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree Loving Woman Changed a City Forever
By H. Joseph Hawkins, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Inspire young ones with the true story of Kate Sessions, the botanist and plant pioneer who transformed the City Park and city of San Diego. Sessions loved plants as a child and grew up to be the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, and later inspired a tree movement that inspired people all over her city. This story will inspire a love of nature and encourage children to follow their dreams!