April 22nd will be International Earth Day.
In preparation, here is a list of my favorite Earth Day books for children. Topics include ecology, environmentalism, recycling, mythology, urbanization, conservationism and so much more.
11 of the Best Earth Day Books for Children:
by Lynne Cherry (Author)
“One day, a man exhausts himself trying to chop down a giant kapok tree. While he sleeps, the forest’s residents, including a child from the Yanomamo tribe, whisper in his ear about the importance of trees and how “all living things depend on one another” . . . And it works. “
“The Great Kapok Tree” is becoming a classic of children’s literature, and rightly so. The beautiful illustrations make the book appealing to young children, while kids as old as middle schooler can still find the story intriguing and informative. Besides, it is a fantastic starting point to introduce the rain forest and conservationism.
by Dawn Casey & Anne Wilson
Where does the Sun come from?
Why is the sky so far away?
“The Barefoot book of Earth tales” recounts seven folktales from around the world to remind us that we are all part of the same system, and that is up to each of us to care for the planet.
“The Barefoot book of Earth tales” takes a more spiritual, mythological approach to preservationism, reminding us how connected our ancestors were with the soil and the earth we live on.
I cannot recommend this book enough. Honestly, it comes very close to be THE perfect children book:
- The tales are fascinating and unique.
- The mesmerizing illustrations tell a story on their own.
- The narrative is straightforward but not banal. It is quite lengthy so it will take a while to read through.
- It includes information about the countries and the cultures and even activities to try!
If all this wasn’t enough, the publisher, Barefoot Books, is committed to green business and only works with sustainably sourced paper and vegetable inks.
3. “One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia” (Millbrook Picture Books)
by Miranda Paul (Author), Elizabeth Zunon (Illustrator)
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.
“One Plastic Bag” is the inspiring true story of how one African woman, Isatou Ceesay, began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.
This book has so many qualities: for a starter, it is an amazing example of how one person alone can initiate change. Secondly, Isatou Ceesay is an impressive example of female activists. Finally, it is set in a very diverse country, Gambia, and offers a nice glimpse on a reality and a culture very different from ours.
by Stefano Benni (Author), Antony Shugaar (Translator)
Fifteen-year-old Margherita lives with her eccentric family on the outskirts of town, a semi-urban wilderness peopled by gypsies, illegal immigrants, and no end of bizarre characters: a reassuring and fertile playground for an imaginative little girl like Margherita. But one day, a gigantic, black cube shows up next door. Her new neighbors have arrived, and they’re destined to ruin everything.
One of my favorite Italian authors, Stefano Benni, just recently started to be translated in English so I couldn’t pass the occasion to recommend one of his books.
“Margherita dolce vita” (Margaret Sweet Life) is a novel, rather than an illustrated book like most others in this list.
Benni has a unique way of mixing together silly stories, social issues, dark storylines, and exhilarating humor, and this book does not disappoint. Margherita Dolce vita fluctuates seamlessly between Margherita’s positive outlook on life and a much darker reality. The criticism of unchecked consumerism and environmental decimation is not subtle, and yet the satire will have you laughing out loud quite often.
It may look like a child book but is best suited for middle schoolers and adults.
by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens.
“The Tree Lady” tells the story of the strong-minded Kate Sessions and her battle to bring green into our cities. This book is an excellent ice breaker to discussions about science, urbanization, public spaces, but also determination, and political activism.
by Maria Godsey (Author), Christoph J Kellner (Illustrator)
We all know about pollution and environmental issues. We all know that is bad and we need to change. But how? And where should we start?
“Not for me, please! “ intent is to teach kids how to make more sustainable choices. The goal of this book is not just to show kids why plastic and overconsumption are bad, but how their actions can actually affect the planet we live in.
by Franck Prevot (Author), Aurélia Fronty (Illustrator)
Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation.
The illustrations are absolutely stunning, and the book also includes useful information on Wangari Maathai’s story, who planted over thirty million trees through her organization.
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Author, Illustrator)
At first glance, with about two printed words per pages, “Green” seems like a pretty straightforward book:
It takes a second look to realize how well curated and intelligent this book actually is. Each page is dedicated to a different shade of green, with hidden, clever details, brilliant cutouts, and peek-a-boos.
It’s a beautiful book that takes more than reading to be fully appreciated.
by George Ella Lyon (Author), Katherine Tillotson (Illustrator)
Water doesn’t come. It goes. around.
“All the Water in the World” introduces kids to the water cycle through beautiful illustrations and clever design.
The curated font, the digital collage, the simple yet powerful prose, it all comes together to celebrates the essence of life itself in a lyrical presentation of the water cycle.
by Chelsea Clinton (Author), Gianna Marino (Illustrator)
I had already recommended Chelsea Clinton’s book “She Persisted” here. This time, she introduces us to a selection of endangered animals, sharing with us what makes them unique, and what threatens them.
The book is packed with interesting facts about the animals and their endangerment.
by Laurie Lawlor (Author), Laura Beingessner (Illustrator)
“Once you are aware of the wonder and beauty of earth, you will want to learn about it,” Rachel Carson.
Best known for writing “Silent Spring”, Rachel Carson was a major figure in the early environmental movement, and her work brought a greater understanding of the impact humans have on our planet. “Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World ” offers a glimpse at the early life that shaped her interest in nature, and the way one person’s determination can inspire others to fight for real change.
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