Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement that began in 1970. Today is a good reminder to celebrate Earth Day every day and pass lessons on environmental stewardship to our children. To this end, I wanted to share resources for teaching kids about the environment.
Scholastic and OPEI (Outdoor Power Equipment Institute) have partnered to create lesson plans and activities that empower students in grades K through 5 and their families to champion best practices in taking care of the green space in their communities. The program sets out to inspire an interest in backyard science, environmental activism, and encourage spending time in the outdoors.
Resources include a teachers section, a parents section, and a free e-Book – a digital storybook about superhero TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers.
I also have a book list of our favorite earth day picture books. What books that you enjoy am I missing? Please share!
Top 10 Earth Day Picture Books
In choosing picture books for Earth Day, I found a range of stories to impart an environment message from non-fiction to fables to learn by example. I hope you and your kids enjoy this list … enough to read them year-round! Every day can be Earth Day! Why not?!
10. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
In a city without any gardens or trees or greenery of any kind, lived a boy who liked to explore. In a deserted train station, he found the most curious thing: a patch of plants in need of a gardener. He struggled at first, overwatering and learning to prune and soon his little garden thrived. And it also grew curious. The plants started meandering about, spreading down tracks and exploring cracks and crevices. As plants started popping up everywhere, so did new gardeners. Pretty soon, the city blossomed thanks to the curious garden that likes to explore.
9. Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals and illustrated by Ashley Wolff
With wonderfully textured collage illustrations, Compost Stew uses the alphabet to teach us the ingredients that break down into rich, organic nourishment for Mother Earth. I find it inspiring to take the kitchen garbage and your own hand at home composting! Want to try? Mama Smiles has a post on urban composting that uses a blender to make nutrient-rich plant juice that can be poured directly into your garden outside! Easy peasy and fun for the kids to participate in!
Items that I did not know I could compost that I learned from this book:
- hair snippings
- laundry lint
- coffee grinds
8. The EARTH Book by Todd Parr
Todd Parr’s inspires young kids to take care of the earth with pragmatic suggestions amid colorful vibrant illustrations:
- use both sides of the paper
- bring your own bags to the market
- turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth
- use less water in the bath
- take the school bus and ride your bike
- don’t waste food
- turn the lights off when you leave the room
7. When the Animals Saved Earth: An Eco-Fable retold by Alexis York Lumbard, illustrated by Demi
Based on a 1,000-year-old multi-faith fable originally written in Arabic, this eco-fable tells of when all the animals lived in peace on an island ruled by King Bersaf, a spirit king made of fire and air. All was well until humans arrived by the ark and their greed quickly changed the island. Trees were chopped down to make homes and animals slaughtered or shackled. Only a boy named Adam was empathetic towards the beasts and together they called for King Bersaf to intervene.
The humans said, “Why, look at all the good that we do. We build. We make. Without us, there would be no order to this wild island.”
“Nonsense!” screeched the owl. “You chop down the forests, dirty the skies, and poison the waters! This is destruction, not order!”
To settle this argument that had grown violent, King Bersaf withdrew from the animals the pain that they had been carrying and scattered it among the humans. Little by little the healing began, and they learned to live together on this island we now call Earth.
6. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
When Alice was a little girl, she had three goals: she wanted to travel to faraway places, live by the sea, and make the world more beautiful. And, as she grew up, she became a librarian and traveled to tropical islands, mountaineering, and explored the Middle East. It was time to live by the sea. But there was still one thing left to do, Alice, now called Miss Rumphius, wanted to bring more beauty into the world and it was through her favorite flower, the lupine, that she did. With five bushels of lupine seed, Miss Rumphius became The Lupine Lady, spreading this useful and beautiful plant all over. And now, when another little girl named Alice visits her great-aunt, she too must find a way to make the world more beautiful (and travel and live by the ocean too, of course!).
5. Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Learn the colors of the rainbow and the flowers that can make your own rainbow garden in this gorgeously illustrated feast of flowers. Ehlert also introduces plants that you might consider for your flower garden by the way you’d plant them: bulbs, seeds, or seedlings. Here’s a resource for planting a butterfly garden.
Flowers in Planting a Rainbow that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds:
- (Gloriosa) Daisy
4. Riki’s Birdhouse by Monica Wellington
Riki wants the beautiful bluebirds that visit his yard to stay so he decides to build them a birdhouse. To attract birds during the snowy winter, Riki makes special foods for all the birds. When the birds come back in the spring, Riki helps them build their nests by putting out scraps of fabric and yarn. His bluebirds use some of this material to build a nest in the birdhouse he built them! Riki has flowers in his yard like sunflowers for the birds and their babies to eat. Now that it’s fall again, the birds get ready to migrate. That’s ok with Riki, he will build more birdhouses and make more food for the birds to eat this winter.
Does this sound fun to you and your kids? There are instructions on how to build and install a birdhouse in the back of this book. There’s also information on Bluebirds, making birdbaths and feeders and a special recipe for bird food cupcakes!
Doodles and Jots has a wonderful FREE bird diary that you can print out and use to track the birds that visit your yard!
3. Charlie and Lola: We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child
Lola wants to purge her room after visiting Charlie’s friend Marv’s brother Marty. Marty is a hoarder and his room is disgusting. Charlie teaches Lola about recycling and when their mum gives her a comic book about recycling, she learns about a recycling contest and gets her entire school involved. Marv’s little brother Morten helps them reach their goal by cleaning out Marty’s room. Uh oh. Marty’s not going to be happy about that!
2. This Tree Counts! (These Things Count!) by Alison Formento, illustrated by Sarah Snow
Count with this book and learn to speak the language of trees! What will we learn? This tree counts! Trees make shade, wash the air, produce fruit for us to eat, and its wood is used in all kinds of ways. That’s a great reason to plant more trees!
The papercut art by illustrator Sarah Snow is another good reminder that trees contribute to stories!
1. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
My favorite quotes from this still relevant and prescient classic from Dr. Seuss:
I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It’s a Truffula Seed.
It’s the last one of all!
You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.
The Jenny Evolution has a great book list for Earth Day too!
p.s. Related posts:
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.