Earth Day may have passed but, it’s always a good idea to read some books about our amazing Earth. Many of these books are also great to read in the spring or to share anytime. Here are some of my favorite books to share with story times, school visits, and one on one reads!
The Earth Book by Todd Parr (2010)
I love Todd Parr. His works are so accessible for all kinds of people, and they have colorful, kid-friendly illustrations. This book is another winner! My only caveat is that his books are a tad long to my bouncy toddlers but that’s when I use my librarian skills to skip pages. (I love sharing that fact with parents– it’s okay to skip pages!!! The author will never know. So many parents think their readalouds must remain true to every word on the page.)
Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals (2014)
This book is really fun because of how repulsed kids get when you ask them if they would eat those items. This book is best for preschoolers— with their inquisitive little minds trying to make sense of the world. As you add new ingredients– drum up enthusiasm for each item and ask your audience if they would like to eat it? It’s a fun and easy way to talk about what composting is and what items are compostable.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh (2012)
To me, this is my first go to for Earth Day books! I love Melanie Walsh’s books (The Chester ones are great) It’s a really accessible way to talk about being a good citizen of our planet. Do you turn the light off when you’re done? Do you recycle your bottles? I think this book could set up a whole family mindset for recycling and being conservative with resources. I have shared this book with preschoolers and early elementary students.
Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington (2011)
It’s great to have a nice book that includes grandparents. What I like about this book is that being green is a certain theme here. They walk instead of driving and they make and take reusable bags to the farmer’s market. I also really enjoy the parallels between caring for each other and caring for the Earth. I have read this book in smaller story times with babies and toddlers, and preschoolers.
Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre (2018)
This is a newer book, and another beautiful nonfiction book. Simple text and wondrous photos make me want to thank the flowers and trees on my walk home from work. I love sharing real photos with children– it helps connect what you share with the world around them. I could see using this book with a school visit and writing your own letter to thank Earth– either as a class or individually. I have shared it at toddler and preschool story times. You could also read this with Thank You, Bees by Toni Yuly.
Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn (2017)
I love the Lola books! This one is really special because it includes a nod to poem many people know “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” Lola’s mom reads that poem to Lola and that inspires them to have a mini adventure with seeds and plants. This is another wonderful book about having strong relationships together, and how reading can be an inspiration for having fun with your little ones. I have shared this story and many of the other Lola books at baby/toddler story times.
I love Our Earth by Bill Martin Jr (2009)
I like including some nonfiction in story time because there is great story time nonfiction, but lots of caregivers are intimated by that section. This is a great example of using a rhythmic poem by Bill Martin Jr. and then lots of real photos of children and the world around them to share about the amazing seasons and movements of Earth. I have shared this in baby/toddler story times and preschooler visits.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (2009)
This is my favorite Peter Brown book. I love this story because it shows how a small change for good can improve so much more in life. It’s a lot longer of a story– I would save it for a one on one read or a read with a class visit. But this little character takes it upon himself to be a little gardener for some abandoned plants in a gray world, and by taking care of them— he transforms the whole city. I would also recommend reading Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy afterward.
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert (2003)
A rainbow of fruits and vegetables is delicious and beautiful! Confession– while I love this book and include it in so much throughout the year, it’s not the easiest story time share. We usually take a picture walk through this story. We talk about seeds and planting and colors– which is the meat of this story, but not always how the text makes it appear. I love the bright colors in Ehlert books, and I love recommending them to parents, but for large crowds, I need to move the story along a bit.
Flower Garden by Eve Bunting (2000)
This is an oldie, but a goodie. I love it because of how it shows city life– which lots of our children live in– and has a nice community feel to it. It also has simple words and colorful pictures that make it able to share with toddlers or even babies. It also rhymes, which helps move the story along. And it shows that you can have a garden anywhere.
What are your favorite Earth day books? Together, we can make a great list for next year!
Carol Simon Levin
I’ve done Earth Day Storytimes for many years. You can see many of my favorite titles here: http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/search/label/Earth%20Day%20%26%20Environment (scroll down and click on “older posts”) to get the full list)
I’ve been doing Earth Day storytimes for a while as well, and I love and have used many of the books you listed here, Amy! I’ve recently added “Thank You Bees” by Toni Yuly. It’s sweetly simple, yet has the ability to help very young children make connections between their everyday life and how our environment works. You can create interactivity by having the storytime goers repeat each page after you. That creates a few giggles when we get to the pages that say “Thank you, dirt”, and “Thank you, worm.” 🙂 And of course, the title and reference to bees is a key environmental plug. This always creates an opening for mentioning how important it is to respect and love the bees.