Earth Day may have come and gone, but these books for young readers, selected for their entertainment value, vivid illustrations, or interesting story-line will tune kids into environment all year long. Parents may also learn a thing or two along the way!
Animals and Insects
UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian
Toddlers learn the origin of honey through this lyrical collection of rhymes. Each page features a different poem along with a bit of information about honeybees to help adults learn, too. In just a few pages, it covers where honeybees live, their anatomy, social structure, about pollination, honey and more, making it perfect for bedtime.
Bugs Galore by Peter Stein, Illustrated by Bob Staake
With its animated illustrations and catchy rhymes, Bugs Galore will become a favorite that parents won’t mind reading over and over again. Read it before your next nature hike to introduce insects of every size, shape and color.
Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest by Jenny Sue Kotecki-Shaw
This story is about Julia Butterfly Hill’s fight to save an ancient redwood tree from being cut down for profit by the Pacific Lumber Company. Kotecki-Shaw takes the reader from the time the tree was born 1000 years ago till the end of Hill’s two year-sit in. The pastel, water colored illustrations provide a calm backdrop and keep little ones engaged. Pair it with Hill’s memoir — the adult version of this story.
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
First African woman Nobel Prize winner, Wangari Maathai’s story comes to life in this beautifully illustrated, child-friendly recount of her effort to mobilize villagers to replenish central Kenyan forests. Simple language makes it easy for little ones to understand the role of local, small scale farms in providing inexpensive food sources and how conserving the natural forests can prevent soil erosion.
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynn Cherry
Animals of the Amazon Rain Forest convince a man to put down his ax when he breaks from his chopping to take nap. He awakes to a beautiful menagerie and a newfound appreciation for the rain forest’s value.
Eyewitness Explorer: Nature Ranger by Richard Walker
Invite kids to explore the natural world through one of the 20+ hands on activities presented in this book. Use a magnifying glass to explore creatures living in a nearby pond. Collect pine cones, harvest their seeds, and observe their variations. Each activity includes a simple supply list, instructions, and detailed information about each concept which make it easy for adults to guide kids along.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, Illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon
When plastic bags become a big problem in the Gambia, the women reused them to weave beautiful things. This story will inspire children to be creative in making seemingly useless items useful again. As a bonus, introduce children to the Gambian language, Wolof. A language glossary and pronunciation guide is included in the book.
Stuff! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Steven Kroll, Illustrated by Steve Cox
Pinch, the pack rat that has collected so many things that they are spilling out of his house! Children will be entertained as they discover how he purges most of his things and convinces his friends to do the same.
Marine Life Conservation & Water
The Sea, The Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle by Lynne Cherry
This book is one to take along to your next beach vacation. It vividly describes the important role of mangrove trees — the only tree that grows in salty sea-water. Explore the habitats for a variety of sea creatures and learn how the mangroves protect them.
Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home by Michelle Mulder
More of a reference book than a story book, parents can turn here for answers about how ancient and modern people collect and care for water. How do underground wells work? What is a rain barrel? Why did water pollution became such a big problem? This book answers all of these and features photographs of people from all over the world, collecting water and using it in everyday life.
It’s never too early to get children interested in the environment. I challenge you to get started today!