Earth Day is April 22nd, but these books work year-round. They focus on real ways kids can change their habits and help the environment, on how and why we should recycle, and provide cautionary tales about what could happen if we don’t. Earth day books? Yes, but they are everyday books too.
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The Berenstain Bears Don’t Pollute (Anymore) by Stan and Jan Berenstain provides an excellent overview of a whole bunch of concerns for our world. It touches on recycling, deforestation, air pollution, and more. The text would be far too long for the younger crowd, but Kindergarten on up would be an appropriate age range for an unedited reading.
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is incredible! I only wish that my son was old enough to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s not aimed at two-year-olds at all, but he did like to open it to the page with the recycling truck and point out all the parts to me. The book itself takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor also. I think most five-year-olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text. Also, the book was printed on 100% post-consumer waste paper.
Little Pirate: Why Do We Recycle? By Innovative Kids is an enjoyable book about recycling with a pirate theme. Yes, a pirate theme. Readers learn about recycling, composting, and garbage, along with two young pirates who need to clean up their ship. The pirates ask questions about various waste, and the wise parrot fills them into the facts like the best bag to use while shopping is a cloth one, and what happens to the metal, glass, and paper after we put them in the recycle bin.
The Whole Green World by Tony Johnston was an unexpected hit with my son. Today reading it, he learned that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, he saw the book in our pile to read and wasn’t taken with it, but I suggested maybe just reading the first page, and he was hooked. The book is really about appreciating the whole world, from the viewpoint of a little girl who grabs some seeds, plants them, waters them, and savors the beauty all around her. My son loved the sing-song text and the ultra-detailed illustrations by Elisa Kleven. Which my son would study with every turn of the page asking me,” Mommy, which bird? Which book? Which cake is your favorite?” referring to the illustrations. It was a beautiful book to snuggle up with!
It’s Earth Day! by Mercer Mayer. In this book in the Little Critter series, we follow along as Little Critter tries to make a climate change machine to reverse the effects of global warming. Along the way, other green choices are explained, like taking the school bus instead of each child being driven in their own cars, not letter water run, and the three Rs.
Dinosaur Woods by George McClements was my favorite pick from our latest library trip. I laughed all the way through this book because of it’s snide remarks and funny asides. I made a huge mistake, though. I told my son how hilarious it was and oversold it to him. The humor went right over his five-year-old head. Oops! Luckily the story is great on its own. The story is about a bunch of forest friends who are trying to save their homes from developers and get a great idea to make a dinosaur since no one would ever take a home away from a dinosaur. It’s really a book about conservation, but it’s funny ( I stand by that) and sweet and a new favorite of mine.
EcoMazes by Roxie Munro is a book that was sent to me by the publisher for review. The idea of this book is to showcase different ecosystems like wetlands, the tundra, desert, and more through both a maze and search and find game. This book is not designed for preschoolers, although my son loves it. We do the labyrinth together as that is far too complicated for him, but he loves to find the animals on each page and has learned a lot about them also. What is incredible for older children ( 7-10) is that along with an answer key to the maze and pictures, there is a full page of information about each ecosystem in the back of the book. This doesn’t talk down to the reader and gives excellent information using sophisticated vocabulary.
The EARTH Book by Todd Parr is a great Earth Day book for preschoolers and young elementary-aged kids. It focuses on small everyday steps kids can take to help the environment as well as how these little everyday measures help. The way the text is written, it begs for discussion whether you are reading it to a class of 25 or in bed with your only child. Add om Parr’s wonderfully whimsical, bright, bold illustrations, and you have a super-Earth Day book.
Love Your World by Dawn Sirett is a how-to manual for kids who want to be good, environmentally responsible citizens of the earth. The text is lackluster at times, but the message, tips, and overall presentation is still worthwhile. It is a little longer and doesn’t have a warm fuzzy storybook feel, but it would be great to kick start a unit of teaching for 4-8 year olds about conservation.
Barbapapa’s Ark by Annette Tison is a childhood favorite of mine and has a definite vintage flair to it, but the bones are strong. The story is about how the gentle Barbapapas protect sick and hunted animals providing them with refuge, eventually taking them on a rocket ship to another planet until Earth can be cleaned up.
Trash And Recycling by Stephanie Turnball is a great book! I learned more about garbage and the recycling process, reading this to my son over lunch than I ever knew! He loved it and, despite being a pretty sophisticated book for a three year old immediately asked to reread it as soon as I closed it. It explains the whole process from curbside pick up, landfills, incineration, and recycling. The idea for our recycling center activity came from the sorting of recyclable garbage from this book!
Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington is another beautiful book from one of our favorite authors. In the book, Gabby and her Grandma spend a day together dedicated to going green. First making a tremendous reusable bag and then using it all around town. I love that they go to the library, and that is portrayed as a way to go green as well as a place to learn more about environmental efforts. Also, showing ways to make a difference at the grocery store is perfect for young kids who are often tagging along with parents on these errands. I can’t end the review without also mentioning the baby sibling who is sleeping in a sling at the end of the book, I love seeing babywearing in books! This is an excellent environment-themed book that works all year round, not just for Earth Day.
Big Earth, Little Me by Thom Wiley, is a cute introduction into an environmental theme for toddlers. The book is a lift the flap format, and the pages are extra sturdy for fumbly toddler fingers. I love the illustrations by Kate Endle. They bring the super simple text to life and get across the point that even little kids can help the earth. I read this last night to my almost four year old who loved it still.