I intended to post this blog around Earth Day, but my mom life got in the way and I wasn’t able to hit that deadline. I thought that I should scrap it altogether, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was no reason to. We can take actions everyday to do our part of protect our planets’ resources. In fact, just this weekend my family did some yard work. My children asked a lot of questions about the process, and I felt inspired to go ahead and share the books I’ve enjoyed reading to my children. With Spring here and Summer on it’s way, what better time to take everyone outside to learn more about the planet.
Does your family recycle? Do you have a compost bucket? Perhaps your family donates unneeded clothes, shoes, and books or toys. Whether you’re already versed in environmental efforts, or you’d like to teach your children more about it, I wanted to highlight 6 of my favorite books about environmentalism and ecology.
Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli
This is a great book for young readers that teaches the importance of “going green, and how our actions can have a positive impact on others. Miss Fox comes to school on a bike, and when the students ask her why she isn’t driving her car, she explains that she’s going green. Each student in the class has an opportunity to think of ideas, and as the story moves forward, we see each student make a choice to go green in their daily life. It’s a straightforward story with a lot of charm, cute illustrations, and a practical message about how small things add up to big changes.
Recycle EveryDay! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Minna’s school is having a contest. Whoever designs the best posters about recycling will get a chance to be in the school calendar, which is all about recycling. Minna’s parents share that they already recycle every day, and they teach her about it through daily activities like using reusable bags at the store, donating used clothing and books, and recycling cans. When Minna finally decides what her poster design should be, she is delighted by the results and the reader will be too. An added bonus about this book is that it models the lesson in the book by using recycled materials for the illustrations. Resources in the back of the book include a game to play, and you can also match the recycled materials used by the illustrator from the pictures in the back of the book. This is a cute story that offers practical and simple ways to incorporate recycling every day.
The Wolves are Back by Jean Craighead George
This book has exquisite paintings by Wendell Minor, which really add to the richness of the story. I would recommend this book for an older child (above 6 years) because it is a frank discussion about nature, which includes animals eating prey in a field. This book offers a deep explanation of how habitats are so important, and when the wolves were removed from Yellowstone Park, the local habitat of animals suffered. The wolves return brought balance and unity to the habitat. This is a more mature book for the reasons I have listed…
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of Gambia by Miranda Paul
This is a touching true story about a small village in Njau, Gambia, Africa. Plastic bags were discarded all over the small village, attracting mosquitoes and harming the village goats. When Isatou realizes the trash is affecting their daily way of life, she decides to make a change. She gathers up the bags, washes them, and together with a small group of friends, crochets them into small purses. Through her ingenuity, she not only makes her village clean and healthy again by removing trash, she creates income for her family. This is a heartwarming story about how one person can make a big difference. It also teaches about the importance of recycling things like plastic, which never break down in the environment. I also like the resources in the back of the book which includes information about the village, a pronunciation guide, a timeline, and suggestions for further reading.
A Day and Night in the Rain Forest by Caroline Arnold
Another educational book that tracks a 24-hour period in the amazon rainforest. This book teaches not only about the animals in the rainforest, but when they are most active. It has clear and vivid illustrations, educational tidbits about each animal, and resources in the back of the book. These include: What is a Tropical Rainforest?, Fun Facts, Critical Thinking, and a Glossary. This book is part of a series which also includes climates such as the desert, the forest, and the prairie. For additional educational resources included with the book, visit capstonekids.com.
For Older Kids:
Recycle this Book: 100 top children’s book authors tell you how to go green
This is a great book for older kids (think tweens) and has small, bite-sized chapters from well-known children’s authors about how to be more mindful of the planet. Some of my favorites include:
- The Ugly Truth about Spit by Gennifer Choldenko, which suggests reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones.
- Washing Dogs and Dishes by Peter Catalanotto: funny and practicle musings about how to preserve water and practice mindfulness in mundane chores (like washing dishes).
- Be a Sun Scout! By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. In this short passage, she shares about using the movement of the sun to warm and cool your home, thereby saving electricity.
I also like it that this book is split up into sections: Your Home, Your School, Your Community, Your World. The section that discusses the larger concepts (community and world) are longer and tend to have a more personal, true-story touch. I found this book to be practical, funny, and entertaining while shedding light on a variety of issues dealing with ecology and environmentalism. If you have an older child who is interested in learning more about how they can help the planet, this book is a great option.
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