Picture Books for Sharing Planet Earth
Earth Day is just around the corner! We encourage you to share books with young people that inspire them to pursue lives of service - to value the interconnectedness of all living things, and to care for and act as stewards of planet Earth.
We have curated a list of some of our favorite books that celebrate the beauty, complexity and importance of caring for the place we call home. Each and every one of these books can be used to facilitate conversations about the natural world, environmental activism, and climate justice, and are appropriate for a wide range of ages.
We have selected some of our favorites to share in greater detail below. You can read about all of our selections on our Bookshop page.
In addition to this book list, we want to share a quick and easy art craft that uses mostly recycled materials. We chose to make rainbows but you can also have children complete the same process using Earth templates, or even tree and flower ones to celebrate Earth Day!
Cardboard, cereal boxes, or brown paper bags cut into the shape of your choice
Colored collage paper (we used torn scrapbook paper, pre-cut color squares, and ripped construction paper)
Children will each start out with a cardboard template and a selection of colored collage paper. Again, we chose to make rainbows, but Earths and other things found in nature would turn out wonderful as well.
We sorted the paper ahead of time so that our young students could easily select whichever colors they wanted to work with. It’s also fun to invite kids to sort the colors, though - this process promotes collaboration amongst peers and language development related to color knowledge.
Next, children will cover their entire template in glue and get to work! It is fascinating to see how students interpret the project - you’re likely to see some who very precisely place items in ROYGBIV, and others who could care less about the “rules.” No matter how they approach the project, each and every child will make something unique and beautiful.
If you give this project a try, we’d love to see the completed works of art! You can tag us (@madisonreadingproject) in your photos online and they may be shared on our social media.
Books Recommendations about Sharing Planet Earth
Linh's Rooftop Garden
Author: JaNay Brown-Wood | Illustrator: Samara Hardy | Publisher: Peachtree
From the publisher, "The fourth title in the Where in the Garden? picture book series stars a young Asian girl who tours her rooftop garden with her mom to explore the fruits and vegetables growing there. Playful text guides young readers to hunt for visual clues and compare and contrast the unique characteristics of blueberries against peaches, strawberries, tomatoes and other produce that grows in Linh's rooftop garden."
Cool Green: Amazing, Remarkable Trees
Author/Illustrator: Lulu Delacre | Publisher: Candlewick
From the publisher, "As he works with his young granddaughter to nurture a potted sapling, a Latino landscaper shares his love and admiration of trees. From the extraordinary rainbow gum tree to the mighty, towering redwood, each of the thirteen specimens he tells of is a miracle of the natural world—and some are strange beyond the wildest imagining.
Brimming with exuberance and color, this ode to trees of the world—and the vast knowledge of landscapers and gardeners—offers a feast for the eyes, with author-illustrator Lulu Delacre paying touching tribute by imbedding seeds, fronds, and leaves within her art. Complete with an author’s note, glossary, and further information on the featured trees, Cool Green will have readers eager to turn the pages to discover each new reminder of what a precious place our earth is."
This book is also available in Spanish.
Author/Illustrator: Michaela Goade | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
From the publisher, "On an island at the edge of a wide, wild sea, a girl and her grandmother gather gifts from the earth. Salmon from the stream, herring eggs from the ocean, and in the forest, a world of berries.
Salmonberry, Cloudberry, Blueberry, Nagoonberry.
Huckleberry, Snowberry, Strawberry, Crowberry.
Through the seasons, they sing to the land as the land sings to them. Brimming with joy and gratitude, in every step of their journey, they forge a deeper kinship with both the earth and the generations that came before, joining in the song that connects us all. Michaela Goade's luminous rendering of water and forest, berries and jams glows with her love of the land and offers an invitation to readers to deepen their own relationship with the earth."
Black Beach: a Community, an Oil Spill and the Origin of Earth Day
Author: Shauna and John Stith | Illustrator: Maribel Lechuga | Publisher: little bee books
From the publisher, "In 1969, Union Oil caused an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara that would change the world. Hazardous crude oil from the blowout flooded the Pacific Ocean, harming wildlife and devastating habitats. But from this ecological disaster sprang a new wave of environmental activism that continues to this day.
Based on actual events, Black Beach: A Community, an Oil Spill, and the Origin of Earth Day follows Sam and her classmates as they fight back. Sam initially feels powerless watching her parents and neighbors try to clean up the oil spill. But as her awareness grows, she learns she's not alone in caring for the Earth. The impact of the spill seeps into living rooms and classrooms across the nation. People everywhere are motivated to act, and a movement to protect and celebrate the environment is born."
The Thing About Bees
Author/Illustrator: Shabazz Larkin | Publisher: Readers to Eaters
This book is a beautiful poem from a father to his two sons, and a much deserved celebratory tribute to bees and all they do for us. Readers will learn all about different types of bees, how not to get stung, and about all the wonderful things bees pollinate that we enjoy eating!
Children will learn to be appreciative of and grateful for bees and all the ways they help our world. It also has a wonderful message that reminds us all that many times, what we initially fear may just be things we don’t yet understand.
Lobstah Gahden: Speak Out Against Pollution with a Wicked Boston Accent!
Author: Alli Brydon | Illustrator: EG Keller | Publisher: Sourcebooks Explore
Lobstah Gahden is a rare gem that will make your kids laugh and learn. This book is about two grumpy lobsters and their quest for victory - both want to win the Swell Gahdens contest, but they discover they have to rely on each other to save their gardens from the trash threatening them both.
We highly recommend reading this hilarious book in your best Boston accent to really get the whole effect, and by the end, we guarantee you will feel inspired to better protect and care for the ocean.
Dear Little One
Author: Nina Laden | Illustrator: Melissa Castrillon | Publisher: Simon and Schuster
This book is a celebration of the world we all share, and a wondrous and lyrical call to action for children to experience as much of it as possible. It features short yet powerful sentences and colorful illustrations that showcase all the different components that make up planet Earth.
It challenges us to show gratitude and express awe for the many tiny treasures that we get to experience every day. Dear Little One would also be a perfect gift for new caregivers and adventurous spirits.
Let’s Go for a Walk
Author: Ranger Hamza | Illustrator: Kate Kronreif | Publisher: Ivy Kids
Let’s Go for a Walk is one of our favorite interactive stories! This book was written by a real life Ranger who loves the outdoors, and asks readers to take him (and the book!) on a walk where they live. It includes prompts, like asking kids to look for something red, or to try feeling different textures, or to stop, and take in the smell of their surroundings. It encourages them to be present in nature, and ultimately, helps anyone to feel more grateful and connected to the world around them.
It includes lots of new vocabulary and information that will help children learn about nature and the environment. We also love that the paper this book is printed on is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and 100% recyclable - no new trees were needed to produce it.
The Keeper of Wild Words
Author: Brooke Smith | Illustrator: Madeline Kloepper | Publisher: Chronicle Books
This is a wondrous intergenerational story about a grandmother and her granddaughter who enjoy spending time in nature. While exploring together outside, Grandma shares some of her favorite words, like wren, monarch and brook - words that will only be remembered and tended to if people know them. She shares her wisdom with her young granddaughter in hopes of instilling the same love and appreciation for nature.
Each word is accompanied by new learning and thoughtful and detailed illustrations that children will cherish. It also includes a call for readers to become their own “keepers of wild words.”
Author/Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal | Publisher: Candlewick
Zonia’s Rainforest is about a little Asháninka girl who lives in the Amazon rainforest. It beautifully showcases her bond with nature and her environment, and follows her along one day as she explores and plays in the rainforest. She visits well-known animal friends, like a family of sloths and a speedy jaguar, and revels in the beauty and wonder of her home.
Zonia is shaken when she comes across a patch of land that’s been ruined by deforestation. This book teaches us about the strength and resilience of the Asháninka community, and are reminded of the importance of acting as stewards and caretakers of our planet. This book includes informative backmatter about the Asháninka people and the Amazon rainforest.
111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl
Author: Rina Singh | Illustrator: Marianne Ferrer | Publisher: Kids Can Press
This nonfiction book focuses on and was written in collaboration with, Sundar Paliwal, a man from a small Indian village who wanted his town to value women as much as men, and for it to take care of its natural environment. He launched an initiative to plant 111 trees to celebrate the birth of every girl - and now, his village has more than a quarter of a million trees planted that provide food, water and opportunities for women to make a living.
This book includes high-quality, thoughtful teaching resources as well, and is an incredible tool to facilitate conversations about environmental awareness, sustainability, stewardship, and ecofeminism. It is incredibly engaging and well-researched, and will captivate any group of readers.
Meet the Wild
Author: Lindsay Kellar-Madsen | Illustrator: Mie Frey Daamgard | Publisher: Kids Can Press
From the publisher, "Come explore the changing seasons. Let the WILD be your guide.
Just bring your curiosity. It's time to play outside!
A nature book for kids that will nurture a lifetime of outdoor play.
Join two little explorers as they splash in puddles, squish summer berries, and wiggle sandy toes outdoors.
Meet the Wild is the perfect preschool nature book for forest schools, outdoorsy families, or anyone looking to encourage outdoor play all year long."
A New Green Day
Author/Illustrator: Antoinette Portis | Publisher: Neal Porter Books
From the publisher, "If you listen, nature speaks. Explore nature through evocative riddles and bold imagery that take the reader from day to night and back again in this perfect read aloud.
From the author of the Sibert Honor-winning title Hey, Water! comes a book of poetic riddles that encourage young readers to explore the natural world.
Who scribbles on the sidewalk with glistening ink? Snail!
Who's a comma in a long, long sentence of a stream? Tadpole!
On each spread, children will solve riddles about the familiar animals, plants and the weather that one child encounters outdoors throughout a whole day. Active readers will delight in the clever language and striking illustrations."
This is just a sampling of some of our favorite books that celebrate environmental awareness and stewardship, we encourage you to visit our Bookshop page for a complete list of our recommendations.