Earth day is this Saturday and it is such an important time to make sure that you are educating your children about the world that we live in and how to keep that world around for the future generations. This is our time to take care of our environment and to remind our kids that it is our job to heal the world.
One great way to reduce the amount of trash going into landfills is to compost. Compost is a great way to feed our earth and take pressure off of our landfills. Not everyone has the ability to have a compost pile, but for those that do, Compost Stew, by Mary McKenna Siddals, is a great way to encourage kids to get involved. Siddals does a great job of simplifying the process in a fun A-Z manner. In her author’s note at the beginning and “chef’s note” at the end, she also gives kids some great facts and ways to get started.
Another great way to reduce our environmental footprint is to actually grow some food. That can be challenging, depending on where you live, but in Old Manhattan Has Some Farms, author Susan Lendroth does a good job at encouraging children to grow farms everywhere! By putting the words to the traditional Old McDonald song, the story is easily accessible and yet they are learning as they go. In the back of the book is great information for older kids with more details about the topics covered – urban farming, worms in soil, beekeeping, hydroponics, and composting. A great way to encourage all children to develop their green thumbs.
Earth Day is also a great time to talk about how our earth works and why we are able to live on the earth when other planets are uninhabited. A big part of that has to do with water. In the book Water is Water, the reader follows a group of children as they go through different phases in the water cycle. From rain to fog to snow to mist, author Miranda Paul and illustrator Jason Chin, combine to create a beautiful and informative journey in this innovative nonfiction picture book that will leave you thirsty for more.
For the slightly older child, The Water Beneath your Feet, Ellen Lawrence does a great job engaging children in learning about water and the water cycle. Lawrence utilizes wonderful graphics that help explain complex processes, such as how water trickles down through layers of the earth and how geysers work. The book also makes an important statement about how water is in danger and how much we rely on it.
Want your child to have a better comprehension of recycling and why we do it? Then check out The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle. In this ingenious book, follow a plastic bottle as he goes on a journey from the refinery plant, to the manufacturing line, to the store shelf, to a garbage can, and finally to a recycling plant where it emerges into it’s new life…as a fleece jacket! Told in diary format, this story allows kids to better understand the resources needed to make all of the things that we take for granted.
I have been highly impressed with the titles that come from Cloverleaf Books. In Earth Day Every Day, children are able to see why we have earth day and what we can do to help the earth. What makes this book more accessible then a standard non-fiction text is that it is told with a funny main character leading the way. Trina is a concerned Earthling who is trying to make the world a better place. She organizes people to do things to help the earth because together we can make a difference if we treat every day as earth day.
No Earth Day list is complete in my mind without mentioning The Lorax. This book changed things in my mind about who Dr. Seuss was and how important children’s books are, and the first time I heard it was in high school. Long before it became the cool thing to do, Dr. Seuss was making a bold statement about our environment and the negative impact that we were having on it. Yet at the same time, he also knew how important people were to make changes – “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
This list is one that will constantly evolve and change. I wrote a similar Earth Day post back in 2014 that you can check out here. I also wrote previously about a bunch of great books about the Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat, which celebrates trees. There are more books in that round-up that would also work beautifully for Earth Day.