Every year on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day! To be perfectly honest, I have a lot of anxiety around climate change and what the world will look like for my young kids when they are my age (and older). So I really appreciate Earth Day as a chance to inventory how I’m taking care of the planet, and what changes I can make to improve.
And of course, one of the biggest ways I can take care of the Earth is to teach the little people in my family to be good stewards of our planet. And what better way than through some great libros?
This list of favorite titles is perfect for Earth Day and beyond!
By Juana Martinez-Neal
Young Zonia’s home in the Amazon is peaceful, “verde y llena de vida.” Every morning, the rainforest calls to Zonia, and every morning she answers. But one day, Zonia sees something frightening: the forest needs her help. And not just her help! The rainforest is calling for all of us, and as Zonia tells young readers, we all must answer. Love this beautiful and important story that encourages compassion and activism.
By Jeanette Winter
I love this story, based on the true story of Wangari Maathai (who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004)! When Wangari was growing up in her small village in Kenya, she was surrounded by trees and green. But after spending some time away, she returns to her home to find that massive deforestation has happened in her absence. She begins by planting nine tree seedlings in her own backyard, and then mobilizing the women in her community to also plant and care for trees. This is a phenomenal example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination can inspire great change.
By Nívola Uyá and Marc Ayats
In the forest, a young girl observes the humans that come to her leafy kingdom for a walk. Although they may enter feeling sad, nervous, or anxious, la niña del bosque takes their hand and encourages them to smell the forest, listen to the birds sing, and observe how the light filters through the trees. Bright illustrations drive home the message of how the forest, and nature in general, rejuvenates us and can help raise our spirits!
By Eric Carle
Eric Carle’s classic story of the life cycle of a flower begins when 10 tiny seeds float across the sky. One by one, the seeds land in different places on their journey. Some thrive, and some do not. But the tiniest seed (despite all odds!) eventually grows into a giant flower! Throughout the summer it brightens the lives of people who see it, until it’s autumn again, and the cycle starts anew. This is a wonderful book for discussing how plants grow and reproduce, and of course the illustrations done in Carle’s trademark style are phenomenal.
By María Quintana Silva, illustrated by Silvia Álvarez
One day, all the trees decide to uproot and leave. While walking to school, Goran realizes what has happened and wonders if the tree in his backyard has vanished as well. He rushes home to find the tree heading out with the rest “before someone chops me down.” Devastated, Goran pleads with the tree to stay through the winter, to have a nice rest, and if in the springtime it still feels it must leave then he, Goran, won’t argue. Throughout the winter, Goran and the other kids do all they can to make a nicer environment for the trees, including planting more trees and plants and recycling paper. A story with a moral, clearly, and one that couldn’t be more appropriate for Earth Day!
By Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Inspired by the story of Mary’s garden (Mary as in the nursery rhyme: “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”), Lola decides to plant her own garden. With her mom’s help, she buys the seeds, plants them, and then patiently waits for them to grow. Soon enough, she has a flourishing garden, perfect for a little garden picnic with her friends! This short story is great for young readers, as the text is simple and minimal and the illustrations are bright and cheerful.
A red-booted water drop escapes from a cloud, and we follow it as it drops into deep oceans, navigates rivers, and floats with the fog. From liquid to gas to solid, this nonfiction-ish book teaches us all about the water cycle! The book’s most important message is that, although water is everywhere in nature, we must protect and conserve it like the priceless natural resource it is.
By Pat Mora, illustrated by Meilo So
This poetic book is a tribute to water, our most precious resource. Inspired by author Pat Mora’s travels, each page spread describes the movement and different forms of water while also depicting one of fourteen different water landscapes and cultural areas around the world. So’s watercolor illustrations are beautiful and match the tone of the writing perfectly. Since this book travels around the world and touches on the lives of people in different lands and nations, we also get a pretty multicultural representation of the people on our planet, which I greatly appreciate.
By Alison Jan, translated by Isabel Llasat Botija
I have a soft spot for bees, having grown up in the middle of an orchard and very near the beehives my family depended on to help our fruit grow. This story about a bee who is lost in the city and subsequently rescued by an apartment-dwelling little girl, was SUCH a hit with my kids. We’ve read it countless times! The plantless city is no place for a flower-loving bee, but eventually the pair works together to help change that. This book was a great catalyst for conversations on the declining bee population, and inspired us to plant wildflowers for the bees in our own middle-of-the-city backyard!
Vanessa Nielsen Molina
Vanessa is an entrepreneur, educator, and mamá of four, who’s passionate about helping other parents experience the joy of raising bilingual children. Follow her journey and access more resources at BilingualBookworm.com.