Monday, April 21, 2014

Children's Books for Loving the Earth

Over the months, we have discovered a number of children's books (mostly from the library) that have enhanced our love for the earth and our determination to take good care of it. Here are some of our favorites, just in time for Earth Day tomorrow.

Please share the books you and your kids love!

Uno's Garden 
by Graeme Base
Uno watches his beloved forest home slowly transform into a booming metropolis. As the populous grows, the unique indigenous creatures decline. What can be done to save them? Filled with imaginative beauty typical of Graeme Base, this book is also full of fun arithmetic and a wonderful message about the importance of keeping balance with nature.

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales 
by Dawn Casey and Anne Wilson
This is a beautiful collection of tales from seven diverse countries. The colorful, captivating writing brought me to the edge of tears several times, but my little boys loved them, too! Along with each story is an activity relating in some way to the culture (e.g. make a cornhusk doll, build a willow den, make a mini water garden).

Earth Mother 
by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
In this light-hearted story, Earth Mother goes about ornamenting and caring for the earth in beautiful dress. During her travels, she receives both the thanks and complaints of a toiling man, a frog, and a mosquito, all of whom have insights to gain about the circle of life.

A River Ran Wild 
by Lynne Cherry
This book chronicles the history of the Nashua River in Massachusetts, from the first native settlers to the industrial revolution, which saw factories crop up along it's banks, filling the river with toxic waste. One woman spearheaded a great effort to return the river to its pristine state. (
Incidentally, we recently finished reading the original Boxcar Children books, and one of the books, "Bus Station Mystery," told a very similar story, but without any proper names. It was written around the time of the big cleanup and in the same part of the country, so maybe the Nashua inspired her, too.)

All the Water in the World 
by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson
A lovely, lyrical presentation of the water cycle.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures
by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Illustrated with watercolored papercuttings, this version of St. Francis of Assisi's famous prayer lends a sweet and strong reminder that God loves his creations and we should, too! 

The Curious Garden 
by Peter Brown
Growing up in a city with no plant life, a young boy discovers some dying plants growing along an abandoned railroad track, and decides to take care of them. As his plants begin to spread, so does his passion to cultivate.

City Green 
by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
A little girl inspires her neighbors to join with her in transforming the old, city-owned, junk-filled lot next to her apartment building into a thriving garden. Besides changing the ugly lot, their efforts also change a heart or two.

Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard 
by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
This was a fun read about the ins and outs of raising a family garden, including planning, planting, composting, handling pests, and preserving the bounty. Lots of extra information (provided by chickens) includes a helpful discussion on the food web.

Market Day 
by Lois Ehlert
One farmer family takes a day trip to sell their produce at the market. The illustrations are compilations of folk art from all over the world. 

To Market, to Market 
by Nikki McClure
From the perspective of a boy attending attending his local farmer's market with his family, we meet many of the market vendors and learn about the efforts they make to produce their wares.

Brother Eagle Sister Sky 
by Susan Jeffers
Though the origin of this book is controversial (purportedly from a speech by American Indian Chief Seattle), the message about respecting the interconnected web of life is a good one! 

The Tiny Seed 
by Eric Carle
This is a nice story about the life cycle of a seed. One adventurous seed starts out tinier than the others, but in the end grows tallest of all. 

The Apple Pie Tree 
by Zoe Hall, illustrated by Shari Halpern
Two little girls watch the evolution of their family apple tree from bare-branch winter to autumn harvest.

A Promise is a Promise 
by Eve Tharlet
A little marmot becomes best friends with a dandelion, who eventually asks the marmot to blow her seeds to the wind, and trust that everything will be okay. After a lot of worry and a good hibernation, he awakes to a beautiful surprise. 

Anno's Magic Seeds 
by Mitsumasa Anno
A wizard gives Jack two magic seeds. He tells him to eat one and bury the other, promising that it will produce two more in the fall. A mathematical story of the miraculous multiplying and saving potential hidden in every little seed.

Wangari's Trees of Peace 
by Jeanette Winter
After completing her studies abroad, Wangari Maathai returns to her native Kenya to find many of the old forests destroyed. Beginning in her own backyard, she begins planting trees, eventually persuading other women of her town and country to assist in the efforts. They plant 30 million trees. 

Mama Miti 
by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Another take on Wangari, this book shows in dazzling illustration her confident response to the variety of problems coming from women all over Kenya: "Plant a tree!" 

Aside: in 2004 Wangari received the Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. I read her bio on wikipedia and was amazed at her life! There are many earth-lovers who have made similar efforts and sacrifices. You might enjoy learning about:

John Muir
Rachel Carson
Jacques Cousteau
Gaylord Nelson
And many more, I'm sure!

Here are a few more books that are either educational (without a storyline) or compilations of earth-centered activities. You might like:

One Well: the Story of Water on Earth 
by Rochelle Strauss, illustrated by Rosemary Woods
Earth's water supply is essentially one big well. This book talks all about water: the water cycle, our collective need for water, access to water, water pollution, and becoming "well aware."

What's So Special About Planet Earth? 
by Robert E. Wells
This book encourages kids to value our world by taking a look at how it is suited uniquely for us. At the end he shares some ideas for conserving resources and using energy wisely.

Best Kids Love-the-Earth Activity Book 
This is a terrific compilation of ideas for understanding and exploring the earth. Here is just a smattering from this book: design a nature collage, pound a leaf into fabric, make sun tea, make fresh water from salt water, make wind-powered music, make a bird hangout, host a party for the planet, dye earth-friendly easter eggs (which I tried this year, though not from this book), and LOTS of ideas for reusing various materials.

My First Green Book: A Life-Size Guide to Caring for our Environment 
by Angela Wilkes
Though a little old-school, this book has some good stuff. It includes information on an array of subjects ranging from waste disposal to the rain forest and features activities such as testing your own water and soil, making a water filter, creating a wildlife garden, and campaigning for change.

Love Your World: How to Take Care of the Plants, the Animals, and the Planet 
by Dawn Sirett
This was a favorite for my kids. It contains lots of colorful pictures and little poems about loving and caring for the earth, encouraging kids to make a difference!

(You can celebrate Earth Day as long as you want.)


  1. Wonderful! I love lists like this, and can't wait to look into some of these.

  2. What a wonderful idea. We had a book from the library recently that taught the life cycle of an apple seed, I can't remember the name though. So disappointing. I love this list,and haven't read any of these. I look forward to it. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for taking the time to compile this list! We love celebrating our mother earth!