Picture Books to Celebrate Earth Day!

Children planting a treeEarth Day, commemorated every year on April 22, marks the anniversary of the modern environmental movement, which began in 1970 when 20 million Americans took to the streets to raise awareness for environmental issues.

As a child, I don't remember the Earth Day marches, but I distinctly remember sitting in the long gas lines of the early 70s waiting to fill the tank of our Plymouth Barracuda and hearing reports that the earth's fossil fuels would be depleted within 20 years, as well as the false predictions that the planet was trending toward another Ice Age. I tended to be a worrier and this news definitely caused me anxiety.

In light of the angst I felt over this impending doom, I chose a list of books, many of which are about real people who made a positive difference, that I hope will empower and inspire children as well as help educate them about the importance of caring for the environment.

John Muir

One of my favorites, this children's biography follows the life of John Muir from his childhood in Scotland to his journeys through the American wilderness. This beautifully illustrated book about the pioneering naturalist who founded the Sierra Club is a great place to start learning about the importance of preservation.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

This children's biography tells the story of Rachel Carson and her controversial book, Silent Spring, which ignited the environmental movement when it was published in 1962. A truly inspiring story.

Also in eBook format.

Me-- Jane

This easy biography about the young Jane Goodall and her toy chimpanzee Jubilee is just plain adorable. The whimsical illustrations and anecdotes taken from Jane's autobiography help tell the story of how Jane became fascinated by the natural world and was inspired by none other than Tarzan and Jane to devote her life to studying chimpanzees in Africa.

Also in Easy CD format.

The Soda Bottle School

A school made out of soda bottles?! Yes! This amazing true story of how one teacher’s unusual idea solved the Guatelmalan village of Granados’s two problems: trash piles that were too big and a school that was too small, is fascinating. A great read for children of all ages.

One Plastic Bag

This true story takes us to a Njua, Gambia where one woman's determination to make the village beautiful again, motivates its women to crochet piles of plastic trash bags into beautiful purses. The collage illustrations made up of plastic shopping bags and wrapping papers create a colorful story of their own.

Also in eBook format.

The Tree Lady

If you have ever been to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, you will appreciate this beautiful true story of activist Katherine (Kate) Olivia Sessions used her passion for trees to transform the desert of San Diego into a lush garden.

The Great Kapok Tree

This story has been around for years, but is still one of my favorites. The beautifully detailed illustrations of this Amazon Rain Forest story make it a must-read.

Gabby & Grandma Go Green

If you are looking for a book for your youngest readers this one is perfect. This brightly illustrated story of how Gabby and Grandma spend a day being green is just sweet. You can even have fun making your own cloth bag with the instructions in the back of the book.