Fifty Plus Years of Celebrating Earth Day

As we get ready to celebrate Earth Day, I think about how I can instill in my child a deep appreciation for the planet and its delicate ecosystems. As a children’s librarian I know one of the most effective ways to cultivate this awareness is through the power of children’s literature. Children’s books have the remarkable ability to spark curiosity, empathy, and a sense of responsibility towards the environment. From tales of endangered species to stories about recycling and sustainability, books serve as invaluable tools in shaping environmentally conscious young minds. Some of my recent favorite titles help to foster a love for the Earth, inspiring both wonder and action.

THE MELLONS BUILD A HOUSE, written by Robin Jacobs, illustrated by Nick Neves, and published by Cicada Books, is a fun and educational story featuring a family of five who have outgrown their small flat and are looking to purchase a house. Unfortunately, none of the houses they look at are right for them. Instead, they decide to build a house and work with an architect to design their own eco-friendly home. Filled with a diverse cast of characters, this British import concludes with a glossary of terms to aid the reader.

The Mellons Build an Eco House cover
The Ocean Gardener cover

THE OCEAN GARDENER, written nd illustrated by Clara Anganuzzi and published by Tiger Tales Books, is a picture book inspired by a real person. We learn about a child and her marine biologist mother building a new coral reef to bring the fish back to their tropical island home. The fiction story is easy to read aloud and creates interest while the back matter provides additional information for the child who wants to learn more.

TREE WHISPERS: A Forest of Poems is a collection by Mandy Ross, illustrated by Juliana Oakley, and published by Child’s Play. All the poems are tree-inspired and together showcase the diversity of trees around the world. The poems are in a variety of styles and utilize alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, as well as impressive imagery. By exploring the relationship between humans and trees in today’s world, this engaging title deepens a child’s understanding of nature and encourages mindfulness and appreciation. Diverse characters as well as nature scenes add to the appeal.

Tree Whispers: A forest of poems cover
Chloe's Nature Journal cover

CHLOE’S NATURE JOURNAL, written and illustrated by Miri Leshem-Pelly and published by Creston books, introduces the fictional Chloe who has been by her teacher to start a science journal. At first struggling to find animals in her yard, she at first believes there are none, but with some patience and perseverance, she discovers all sorts of creatures living around her. This example of the scientific method in action provides a concrete example of how all kids can be scientists and help make a difference in the world around us.

HOW TO HELP A HARE AND PROTECT A POLAR BEAR, written by Jess French, illustrated by Angela Keoghan, and published by Nosy Crow, provides nonfiction for kids aged 8 to 12 that defines habitats and provides examples for nine different habitats. Next it offers examples of ways in which you (yes You!) can help endangered animals and make the world a better place for them and us. The suggestions are both practical and creative. The illustrations are detailed and include a diverse set of characters. It concludes with more details about endangered species, a glossary, and an index.

cover image of How to Help a Hare Protect a Polar Bear
How to Teach Grown-ups about Climate Change cover

HOW TO TEACH GROWN-UPS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, written by Patricia Daniels, illustrated by Aaron Blecha, and published by What On Earth Books, gives a humorous take on a serious subject. Kids are encouraged to learn about climate change so they can take the lead on improving the future. They get both the knowledge and the tools necessary to explain to their adults why climate change is an issue. With excellent jokes and engaging illustrations, it debunks myths about climate change while also explaining why things must improve. Luckily it is not all gloom and doom. There is plenty of positivity about the future. It concludes with a comprehensive glossary as well as further reading for both adults and kids.

Through captivating stories and vibrant illustrations, these books not only educate but also ignite a passion for environmental stewardship in young readers. As parents, educators, and caregivers, we must recognize the profound impact that children’s literature can have in shaping attitudes and behaviors towards the planet. By embracing and sharing these stories, we empower our children to become advocates for a sustainable future, where every day is Earth Day. So, let’s continue to turn the pages, sparking curiosity, empathy, and action in the hearts of our young ones, ensuring that they grow up to be eco-conscious citizens.

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