Earth Day is April 22nd. Reading a book is always a great way to introduce a topic to kids. This list of Earth Day books is perfect for learning about protecting the Earth and helping kids make connections to what celebrating Earth day is all about. Amazon affiliate links are included in this post. Clicking on the book titles or covers will take you to Amazon.
Earth Day Books for Kids
Books about Going Green or Celebrating Earth Day
The EARTH Book by Todd Parr does a great job of showing practical ways kids can help take care of the Earth. Suggestions include using both sides of the paper, bringing your own bags to the store, recycling, and more. Kids will love the colorful illustrations, too.
Big Earth, Little Me by Thom Wiley shares 10 easy ways to help save the Earth. The book is pretty simplistic, but toddlers and preschoolers will love lifting the flaps as they read.
Biscuit’s Earth Day Celebration by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is another book that talks about ways to be green. The appeal of this book is the dog as the main character. Biscuit follows his owner, a little girl, around as she tells him all about Earth Day.
What Does It Mean To Be Green? by Rana DiOrio explains in kid-friendly terms what “being green” means. “Does it mean feeling sick in the car?” “Does it mean looking like a frog, or a pickle, or an alien?” No, of course not. The book gives examples of things kids (and adults) can do to be green and help the Earth. In addition to the advice given, DiOrio provides facts to help show the importance of her message.
Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green edited by Dan Gutman is full of essays written by children’s book authors. Each essay has simple tips or suggestions for going green. You’ll love reading the green ideas from the perspective of your favorite authors.
Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons uses cartoons to illustrate a landfill and how to recycle various things so we don’t need landfills as much. As always, Gibbons does an excellent job discussing the science at a level kids can understand.
Stories with an Environmental Message
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss sums up conservation and caring for our Earth with one quote: “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better. It’s not.” Children understand this message quite well. They are often quick to point out all of the bad things done to the animals in the book.
After reading The Lorax, try this easy decomposition experiment from Science Sparks.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is another wonderful classic book about an apple tree that just wants to make a little boy happy – providing shade and apples. As the boy gets older, it becomes more difficult – now he needs money and a house. Eventually the tree is cut down to make a boat. In the end, the tree is a stump that provides a seat for the old man. To me, the message in this book is all about sustainability and conservation. We take a lot from the Earth and expect it to keep providing. Will it be able to keep up? Not if we aren’t careful.
After reading The Giving Tree, make your own Earth Day book with this idea from Kitchen Counter Chronicles.
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry is the story of a man sent to chop down a Kapok tree in the Amazon. The man soon falls asleep and animals start pleading with him to save their home. The man awakens to see all of the animals around him. He leaves his ax and heads home. Lynne Cherry actually traveled to the Amazon to write and illustrate this book. Her artwork is beautiful and you feel like you are in the rain forest.
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers is a quite humorous read. The trees in the forest are being cut down and the animals are all trying to figure out why. They do some detective work and determine it all has to do with a bear making paper airplanes. The bear really wants to win the paper airplane contest but he needs more paper to practice. He apologizes to the animals of the forest and promises to plant more trees. I like this book for its unique look at habitat destruction. Use it to talk about real-life habitats being altered and what we can do about it.
After reading The Great Paper Caper, learn how to make your own paper with these instructions from TinkerLab.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is about a boy who lives in a town without plants. One day he happens upon a patch of dying flowers. He learns how to garden so he can nurse them back to health and soon his garden spreads inspiring others to grow gardens as well. The once gray drab city turns into a beautiful urban garden. This book was actually inspired by an abandoned freight train track in Manhattan that is being transformed into a park and greenspace by the local community.
After reading The Curious Garden, try these gardening activities for kids from Mama Smiles.
Books about Real People Who Have Made a Difference
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola – Wangari Maathai, a native Kenyan, is the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work. Maathai returned home from college to a land that had been ruined – the gardens were empty, the trees were gone, and the people were hungry. She helped her people repair the economy and land by teaching them to be environmentally friendly and starting by planting trees.
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor begins with Rachel Carson as a little girl. It shows her love of nature and how she eventually went on to become a biologist. Her book, Silent Spring brought light to the harmful effects of DDT and other chemicals on the environment. It was responsible for many of the environmental laws we have regarding chemicals today.
Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf by Olivia Bouler is about an 11 year old girl’s efforts at cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico after the Deep Water Horizon spill. She wrote a letter to the Audobon offering her bird paintings for donations to the clean up. She sent out over 500 paintings and earned $175,000 for the Gulf Coast oil spill recovery. This book is written by her and showcases many of these illustrations as well as providing information about the birds and telling the story of her campaign.
Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns tells the story of how oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash in the ocean. This information is used by other scientists to preserve marine habitats and animals. What I like most about this book is how it highlights the problem of trash pollution. Did you know that so much of it ends up in the ocean that we have the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
Heroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet by Harriet Rohmer spotlights 12 ordinary people across North America who are making a big difference in their communities. From protecting turtles and caribou to cleaning up electronic waste to advocating for solar or wind power, these heroes are set an example for us all to follow.
What Earth Day books would you add to the list?