It's Earth Day, and what better way to celebrate than by reading stories about people trying to save our planet! Children's books for Earth Day are a great way to introduce your students to how we can take care of our planet.
What is Earth Day?
Earth Day celebrates environmental achievements and is an action against environmental destruction. It empowers individuals and communities to make an impact, drive change, and promote changes to human behaviour.
Each year, people worldwide come together on Earth Day to celebrate our planet and everything it provides for us. It is a time to reflect on how we can protect our environment and make a difference for the future of our planet.
We can all help the environment by making small changes in our daily lives, including:
- Helping clean up their local community.
- Recycling and composting.
- Using less water and electricity.
- Riding their bikes or walking.
- Buying sustainable products when possible.
- Planting trees and gardens.
- Reducing, reusing, and recycling materials whenever possible.
- Spreading awareness about environmentalism to friends and family.
Why Read Children's Books for Earth Day?
One way to make a difference is by reading about people and communities doing amazing things to protect our environment. The people in these Earth Day picture books are inspiring role models, and their work can help motivate others to take action. By recognizing and celebrating the people making a difference in our environment, you can help inspire your students to take action.
These picture books show people and communities working to reduce pollution, create sustainable energy sources, and protect natural resources. These people and communities positively impact our planet and provide hope for our environment's future.
Most of the suggested books are about real people, but some are fictional characters doing things happening in real life.
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Children’s Books for Earth Day
111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh
Sundar Paliwal valued gender equality, but his village only celebrated the birth of boys. He resigned from his job and became the leader of Piplantri. Sundar persuaded the villagers to celebrate the birth of girls by planting 111 trees. Over time, these trees provided food, water and the opportunity for women to earn their own living.
Use to promote environmental awareness, sustainability, gender equality, social development, community, responsibility and cooperation.
Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood
In Paraguay, Ada Río grows up in poverty and can't afford to follow her dream of playing the violin. The arrival of a new music teacher who made instruments out of rubbish changed Ada's life forever. Based on the true story of the Recycled Orchestra.
Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish by Lara Hawthorne
Alba the fish collects beautiful items that end up in the ocean. As the fish grows, it notices the things changing from beautiful shells to plastic bottles and tin cans. On a treasure-hunting trip, Alba gets stuck in a bottle, and the fish drifts until a young girl, Kaia, finds Alba. She gathers her neighbours to clean up their beach and reef. Kaia releases Alba into an improved ocean environment.
Read Alba and the Ocean Cleanup to promote discussions on pollution, the effects of human actions on nature, taking action, responsibility and activism.
Beatrix Potter's Countryside by Linda Elovitz Marshall
This is the first of two books about children's books for Earth Day by Linda Elovitz Marshall. Beatrix Potter is most famous for being the author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books. She used the money from the sales of her books to buy 4,000 acres of land in the Lake District. She donated the land to the National Trust, and this part of the countryside is still undeveloped because of her actions and beliefs.
Read to promote discussions on gender roles, generosity, taking action, conservation, determination, dedication and philanthropy.
A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
Alan struggles to communicate because of his uncontrollable stutter until he visits the cat house at the Bronx Zoo. He can’t understand why these animals are locked in cages. As he talks to them, his stutter vanishes. Dr. Alan Rabinowitz is now a respected animal conservationist.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
A severe drought in Malawi caused 14-year-old Kamkwamba to drop out of school to save his family money. He researched how to bring electricity to his village and built a working windmill from scraps.
A book that promotes responsible decision-making, perseverance, a growth mindset and social awareness.
The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs by Kate Messner
Based on the true story of coral restoration in Florida. Ken Nedimeyer loves the ocean and notices the coral reefs are dying. He experiments with ways to grow and restore the coral. Along with many volunteers, Ken grows and attaches the new coral to the existing coral. The experiment was successful, and Ken is now taking his knowledge worldwide.
Read The Brilliant Deep to promote discussions on making a difference, problem and solution, patience, knowledge, creative thinking, inventiveness, and anything is possible.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Liam’s curiosity leads him to explore an elevated train track. He discovers dying flowers and begins to nurture them. His dedication pays off when the flowers grow and spread over the city.
Promotes the environment, patience and a sense of community.
Dear Greenpeace by Simon James
Emily discovers a whale in her garden pond. Unsure what to do, she writes to Greenpeace to ask for advice. Greenpeace responds, telling Emily she must be wrong as whales live in salt waters. Emily writes back, saying she has added salt to the pond water. The letters continue with Greenpeace saying Emily must be mistaken until she writes and tells them the whale has left the pond. She tells them she saw it in the sea and how much she loved the whale.
Read Dear Greenpeace to promote discussions on taking action, persuasion, making your voice heard, compassion, gaining knowledge, writing letters, perseverance, inquiry, asking questions, author’s purpose and communication.
Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau
When Viv moves to a new home on the South Carolina sea, she brings the community together to save the local sea turtles.
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams
Kondi's determination helps him make a galimoto (toy vehicle made of wires) despite others laughing at his idea. Set in Malawi, this book reinforces the themes of determination, perseverance, recycling and creative thinking.
The Girl Who Planted Trees by Caryl Hart
A young girl is inspired by her grandfather to plant a new forest in her village. Despite the difficulties, she preserves and the saplings peak through the earth. Just as her hard work pays off, the trees are destroyed by a storm. This tragedy brings out the villagers to help the girl recreate the forest.
Promotes discussions on hope, deforestation, inspiration, determination, resilience, optimism, and a sense of community.
Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood by Tony Hillery
Tony Hillery turned an abandoned space in Harlem into an inner-city garden with the community's help. Local children learn about sustainable eating, healthy living and collaboration. One man's inspiring vision now provides thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to Harlem families.
Hello, Mr Dodo! by Nicholas John Frith
When Martha finds a dodo, she keeps the discovery a secret. But when her secret is revealed, she has to think quickly to keep the dodo safe from public attention. After, Martha finds out the bird has been keeping its own secret.
Read Hello, Mr Dodo, to start discussions on extinction, caring, and being knowledgeable.
I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
When a girl’s favourite dress becomes too small, her mother adapts it to become ever smaller, but no less loved, pieces of clothing. Repurposing the dress material extended its life.
Used to teach recycling, creativity, sequencing, adapting to change and letting go.
Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon
A wild wind turns everything upside down for a man living on a hill. Kate solves his problem by planting trees and protecting the man’s home from the howling winds.
Kenya's Art by Linda Trice
Kenya and her daddy visit a recycling exhibit at a local museum. As she walks through her neighbourhood, she notices the rubbish that could be recycled. She collects the items and turns them into art with her family.
Promotes taking action, creativity and the environment.
The Last Tiger: A Story of Hope by Becky Davies
Aasha's once-thriving home is changing. Trees in the rainforest are being cut down, and other tigers are disappearing. She wonders if she is the last tiger. She decides to leave her home, and together with Teman, an orangutan, they find a new home and hope.
Promotes discussions on climate change, conservation, cause & effect, hope, endangered animals, and wild habitats.
The Last Tree by Emily Haworth-Booth
A group of people make their new home in a lush, green forest. They chop down trees to build homes and a wall surrounding their village. The once happy community are now distant and unhappy. It is the children who understand the effects of the lack of trees. They go beyond the wall, collect the last tree's seeds, and slowly and positively transform their community.
Read to discuss cause and effect, problem-solving, environment, community, preservation, greed and consequences of actions.
Luna and Me by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
From 1997 to 1999, forest activist Julia Butterfly Hill lived in Luna, one of the world’s oldest and tallest redwood trees. She only came down once Luna’s future was secured.
Promotes activism, conservation, determination and courage.
Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J. H. Shapiro
Tyree Guyton created art from trash in his poor Detroit neighbourhood. The city destroyed his creations, but this didn’t stop him from working to improve the neighbourhood and make it safer.
This biography promotes imagination, a sense of community, recycling, social justice, positive change and perseverance.
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole
We follow the journey of a durable paper bag from a tree growing in a forest to a supermarket checkout and carrying a young boy’s lunch. Three generations of the boys’ family use the bag, and when the grandfather dies, it holds a sapling planted in his memory.
This wordless book promotes discussion on recycling, the environment, and sustainability.
Rainbow Weaver by Linda Elovitz Marshall
This is the second of two books about children's books for Earth Day by Linda Elovitz Marshall. Ixchel wants to continue the weaving tradition of her Mayan community. She walks around her village to find items to weave with but only finds colourful plastic bags.
As the bags pile up, Ixchel cuts them into strips and starts weaving them, producing a rainbow fabric.
This bilingual book promotes perseverance, recycling and problem-solving.
The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella
When Leo donates his bike to a charity, it is taken to Africa, where it is used to carry goods to market and as an ambulance that travels on the rough terrain to patients in need.
Read to promote gratitude, cause & effect, social awareness and responsible decision-making.
Rocket Says Clean Up! by Nathan Bryon
Rocket visits her grandparents in Jamaica. While beachcombing, Rocket passes piles of rubbish and finds a baby turtle tangled in a net. She decides something must be done. She brings the community together to clean up the beach and teach them about plastic pollution.
Promotes discussions on activism, pollution, conservation, and caring for the environment.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed A City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins
Over 100 years ago, Katherine Olivia Sessions started a movement to transform the desert town of San Diego into a garden-filled oasis. Today, her parks and garden are still all over this green city.
This biography reflects on the idea of following your dreams and staying strong in adversity.
Walk of the Whales by Nick Bland
Different species of whales leave the ocean to walk on the land. The people are perplexed at the sight of whales doing human things. Soon, shops go out of business, farms flood, and the human inhabitants start to heckle the mammals with anti-whale words. It takes a little girl to discover the whales have left their home because of ocean pollution caused by humans.
Read Walk of the Whales to promote discussions on sustainability, ocean pollution, and the effects of humans on the environment.
Wangari Maathai by Franck Prevot
The inspiring Wangari Maathai started a movement in Africa to prevent deforestation. She encouraged African women to plant trees leading to thriving farms and communities. She then gave seedlings to men, schoolchildren and even soldiers.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter
Follow Jane Goodall as she becomes the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees and how she has dedicated her life to saving them from extinction. Jane Goodall is also an environmentalist, conservationist and humanitarian.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
An Indigenous girl tells the reader about her village's attempts to protect the water. One day a black serpent (oil pipes) will come to poison the water, and her community's responsibility is to safeguard the water from harm and corruption.
Use this poetic book to discuss activism, environmental protection, and indigenous communities.
When We Went Wild by Isabella Tree
Nancy and Jake are farmers who use large machines and chemicals on their deteriorating land. On reflection, they make a big change and decide to go wild! They ban the chemical, stop using equipment and let the animals graze freely and the fields grow wild.
Promotes taking risks, sustainability, conservation and restoring the countryside.
Zonia's Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal
Every morning, the Peruvian rainforest calls to Zonia. She walks through the green forest accompanied by a blue morpho butterfly. She greets different creatures – sloths, birds, jaguars, dolphins, a boa constrictor, and turtles. One day, she is shocked to discover part of the rainforest has been destroyed. Zonia and her Asháninka community become activists to protect the rainforest, its inhabitants and their home.
Read Zonia's Rain Forest to promote discussions on indigenous communities, activism, preservation, the effects of humans on the environment, and taking action.
How does your school celebrate Earth Day? What children's books do you read to your students during Earth Day?