Earth Day, celebrated on April 22nd, raises awareness and support for environmental protection and sustainability efforts around the world. Every Earth Day, as a family, we read picture books discussing our planet and how we can work to protect it. We then focus our efforts on demonstrating to the kids what we are doing to help within our own home. Together we choose something tangible, in the moment, that we can all do. We have picked up garbage in our neighborhood. We have planted native flowers. This year, we are letting the kids decide.
When putting this list together to share with you all, we noticed the lack of Earth Day books in our local libraries (we have 4 libraries within a 30 min drive radius). But what was more surprising? The lack of diversity and inclusion in the Earth Day books that we did find. It is so important that diverse and inclusive picture books are included during our earth day celebrations. They teach children about the beauty and importance of our planet while also promoting acceptance and understanding of different cultures and identities. By featuring diverse characters and perspectives, these books help foster a sense of unity and common purpose in caring for the Earth. When we preclude diverse and inclusive books from our celebrations, we are doing a disservice to our planet by not actively uplifting the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color within climate justice. We are also doing a disservice to our children by not teaching them to also uplift marginalized voices.
There were so many books that I included on this booklist that I couldn't do a deeper look into all of them on this blog post. So please go check out our entire diverse earth day reads booklist on bookshop -- click the button below:
Change Starts With Us
This board book celebrates small acts of green living that make a big impact on the environment. Change starts with planting trees. It starts with turning off faucets, and reusing and recycling. Most importantly, change starts with us! We love Sophie Beer & have her other two board books from this series: Love Makes a Family & Kindness Makes Us Strong. This one is a must-read!
This Little Environmentalist
The youngest readers can learn all about important people who help protect and take care of our Earth! Highlighting ten memorable environmentalists who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this discovery primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations. Kids really are never too young to learn.
A Planet Like Ours
Oh this series. I am telling you!! We recently borrowed A Friend Like You from our local library & our *almost* 5yr old absolutely loved it. He added it to his birthday list so I knew we would have to read this one too. In this book, you celebrate all the wonderful, miraculous, astounding qualities of our Earth while learning how to protect her for future generations. You are left with the ultimate question: "If not us, then who?" So powerful.
Count On Us!
Climate Activists from One to a Billion
Learn how a movement builds from one person to a billion in this A to Z environmental activism book. Readers count from 1 to 10 - and then in larger increments to a billion - as they learn new terms from "conservation" to "activism." Easy-to-understand definitions are given for new vocabulary words. This one is perfect for the classroom!
LOVE this book! The book includes back matter with ways to help save the earth AND a letter template to help kids to write their own letters to earth. I love a book with an activity built in! This inspiring picture book celebrates the wonders of our world and reminds us that if we all work together to spread the message that Earth is special and worth saving, we can keep our planet beautiful for many years to come.
We Are Better Together
When we work together, we humans can do incredible things. I know this to be true. When like-minded people come together with a passion for change, they truly can make a difference. This book talks about the shared responsibility we have as a collective to address climate change and help our changing planet. Through touching words by renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben & incredible, diverse illustrations by Stevie Lewis -- this book brings forth immense feelings of hope.
My Friend Earth
This book is the one I believe I was most saddened to not see in any of my local library systems. A beautifully illustrated book encouraging exploration, with clever cut-outs, flaps, and curved contours, as its poetic text celebrates everything Earth does for us. And reminding us to be a good friend in return. As a pediatric OT, I am all for interactive touch and learn books!!
What Does It Mean to Be Green?
This is a brand new edition of the OG book with all new artwork and updated facts and tips. This one would be great to read in classrooms, book clubs, library story times.
Nibi's Water Song
Written by two Native creators, Nib's Water Song celebrates the energy, moxie, and determination of water activists of all ages. When Nibi, an Indigenous girl, turns the tap in her house, only mucky brown water comes out. That starts her on a search for clean water to drink. Though she must face polluted rivers, unfriendly neighbors, and her own temporary discouragement, Nibi's joyful energy becomes a catalyst for change and action as her community rallies around her to make clean drinking water available for all. This book hits home for us as some of those in our own town are still without viable drinking water. We ended up purchasing this book for our own home to read to our children and discuss not only our immense privilege but what we can do to help advocate for others. Then we will be donating this to our local library.
One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth
Take a magical ride around our globe with this book and see the wonders of our natural world. As the clock strikes twelve, two sisters are spirited away on a journey to glimpse, in the span of a moment, extraordinary biodiversity: a mother polar bear and her cubs hunting seals in Svalbard, tiny turtles in India following the moon toward the sea, and enormous whale sharks gulping plankton in the Philippines. This recent release is one I will be adding to our homeschool nature study curriculum.
Here and Now
This book focuses on mindfulness, meditation and enjoying each moment. Beautiful illustrations, incredibly powerful message about grounding in the here and now. This book is one that we will purchase to have in our home and pull out once a day at least. And honestly, it's a reminder for myself too. To ground in each moment and be mindful and present.
This Changemakers series might be one of my favorites. In the book Old Enough to Save the Planet, we meet 12 young activists from around the world who are speaking out and taking action against climate change. Learn about the work they do and the challenges they face, and discover how the future of our planet starts with each and every one of us. Old Enough to Make a Difference introduces us to 12 enterprising and inspiring kids from around the world who have started businesses to help people and the planet. These social entrepreneurs are bringing about positive change now and for our future. Perfect for school-aged children and teens.
upcoming picture book releases:
An Earth Song
Releases April 18th
I watched the illustrator Tequitia Andrews open her book mail to see her work for the first time and I knew, just by watching her heartwarming reaction to this book that we need it. Discover the power and joy of poetry in this simple, modern introduction to Langston Hughes, featuring an ode to spring and long-awaited new beginnings. I firmly believe our children (and us adults too) need to experience more poetry. The written word is such a beautiful, creative outlet.
The Forest Keeper: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
Releases April 18th
Rina Singh has retraced the story of young Jadav Payeng. As a boy, he began planting trees on a sandbank. Nobody believed that he would succeed in doing so. But since 1979, a forest the size of Central Park has emerged, offering a home to countless animals and plants. It was not until 2007 that a photographer accidentally discovered the forest and made Payeng known to the world beyond India. Cannot wait to read this one with the boys!!
Pedro Loves Saving the Planet
Releases April 18th
Empower kids to be passionate about the environment with a Latinx guide who uses hearing aides! Follow Pedro as he spends the day at his school eco club's forest cabin and shares his love of the environment - learn about renewable energy, discover fun ways to save water and find out what else you can do to help protect our planet.
Global: One Fragile World. An Epic Fight for Survival.
This middle grade graphic novel follows two young people and their communities as they deal with a few specific effects of climate change. The story is fast-paced and full of peril, with a satisfying happy ending for our characters and a short educational afterword. The artwork is evocative and dramatic. Sami and Yuki are fictional, but all the climate change effects in their communities are already happening in our world today. This book does a great job making that feel personal through the eyes of these young teens. A must read for middle grade readers and maybe, all of Congress.
The Girl From Earth's End
You may recognize this one from our Spring Reads list. I've recently started my headfirst fall into middle grade reads and this one is on my tbr. Gifted gardener Henna embarks from her island home to search for the plant that might save her papa's life in this vibrant story of love, grief, and growth. I'm really looking forward to reading this one with the boys *hopefully* this month.
Honorable mentions: Âmî Osâwâpikones (Dear Dandelion) by SJ Okemow-- releases May 23; Earth, Sea & Stars: Inspiring Tales of the Natural World by Ana Sender; Eco Girl by Ken Wilson-Max; The Old Boat by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey
Phew -- and that's only a few I was able to feature. There are so many more on our bookshop book list that would be perfect for Earth Day and really any day. Diversifying our shelves, talking about climate change and involving our children in ways to help protect out planet are vital to encouraging our children to help make a difference. Stay tuned later this week (maybe tomorrow?) for an activity you can do with your kids to learn more about our Earth and have fun too! Let us know which book you'll be checking out in our comment section below.
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