Earth Day: A Celebration Through Stories

As both mamas and teachers we love to connect with kids through books. Caring for the earth, and truly appreciating our planet is something we work hard to pass onto our kids. Together, we have compiled our favourite children’s books to learn about and celebrate the earth. We hope you find one or several on this list to share with your own children or students. All links are from thriftbooks.com because we love to reuse. However, you should be able to also find them at your local library or bookstore. We’ve also included a discussion or activity/ies to go along with each book as a way to learn more about our planet or celebrate her beauty and all that she does for us. 

My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan

This book is written from a child’s perspective as she lovingly describes all the amazing things her friend Earth does. From guarding the creatures, to puring the summer rain and even sometimes over pouring. It is beautifully written with gorgeous illustrations and cutouts.

Activities:

click here for printable version
  • (Grades 1-3) Add a page to this amazing book by describing something beautiful you love that earth does. My friend earth […]. Be sure to include an illustration.
  • (Grade 3-6) Write a response book titled “My friend __[insert your name]__ “ In this story Earth is a wonderful friend, and it’s important we are all friends in return. Write a story from the Earth’s perspective telling all of the wonderful things her friend does to take care of her (ex. Plants a garden, picks up her trash, cleans up the beach).
click here for printable version

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

This book perfectly captures the awe and wonder of seeing an animal in the wild. A child and their father head out one evening to go “owling”. Something the child has long awaited. The child’s excitement and wonder build as they search, and their appreciation of the entire experience jumps off the page.

Activities:

  • (all ages) Chat about if they have ever seen an animal in the wild. What happened?  Discuss safety and what to do when you encounter an animal in the wild. (Not feeding them, properly disposing of any trash, not approaching them, respecting their space, non threatening behaviors, etc).
  • (grades 3+) Write or talk about an animal they would love to see face to face in the wild. Research where it lives, where it fits in the food web, if it’s endangered and if there are any ways to help support their conservation.
  • (All ages) Organize your own “owling” event with an animal (non predatory) that lives near you. Plan and prepare in terms of where to go, what time of day and what you bring with you. It may be tempting to bring a camera, but often these moments are fleeting and you only get a few seconds to take it in. There are plenty of beautiful images on the internet taken by wildlife photographers you can look at later. This is about really being present and experiencing it with your own eyes.

The Water Princess by Georgie Badiel

This book beautifully captures the spirit of young Gie Gie who must walk very far with her mother every day to fetch and bring back water. The water isn’t safe to drink so they must then boil it. Princess Gie Gie wishes for water that is clean and close by, to which her mother responds “someday”.

Activities:

  • (All Ages)Ask your students/child to think about how they get their water, and where it comes from. Then ask them to imagine if every day they had to walk for hours to gather water and carry  it home to boil before drinking. Would they value every sip? Discuss how precious clean water is, and access to it. Discuss how not everyone has access to clean drinking water, and that it’s important not to waste water.
  • (All ages) Brainstorm ways we can waste less water around the house (ex. Shorter showers, turning off the tap when we brush our teeth, using rainwater for gardening). Make it a point to remind one another to help out in conserving water. 
  • (Grades 5+) Go further and look into how our diet and clothing are related to water consumption and water pollution. How can we make choices that will reduce our water waste? A few resources:

Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier

This book teaches a love and appreciation for the ocean. A child learns through beach adventures and conversations with her mother that the ocean bears gifts. Some in the form of physical treasures you can carry home, but the more important ones we must remember to look for (ex. The sun, water & moon). This book also includes a fantastic “ocean journal” at the end with fun facts and information about things commonly found at the beach. 

Activities: 

  • (all ages) Create a painting or drawing that includes all of the things too big to carry home, but you always want to remember to look for. Share it with someone to remind them to look for these things as well.
  • (all ages) Decorate a “treasure jar” and fill it with neat ocean treasures on your next trip to the beach. Think hard about one physical treasure you’d love to wish for from the ocean. Make sure to hunt for it and if you do find it, add it to your treasure jar. 

When Emily was Small by Lauren Soloy

This book embodies the carefree spirit of every child as they imagine and play outside. Emily meets “The wild” on her adventures and explores all things amazing in nature before she is called back to “reality” as her mother finds her and brings her back inside. 

Activity:

  • (All ages) This book makes anyone who reads it want to go out and enjoy the trees and grass and sunshine. Find a nearby green space, lay on your back and stare up at everything around you. Listen to the sounds, smell the grass, touch the dirt. Come back with a little dirt on your hands!

Can you Hear the Trees Talking Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest by Peter Wohlleben

This is a longer read as it consists of several chapters. It delves into the world of trees and forests and answers every question you could possibly have about trees. From their friends to their fears and everything in between. 

Activities:

click here for printable version
  • (Ideal for upper elementary) Prior to reading, make a KWL chart with your child/students. List what you already know about trees and what you’d like to know. The learned column will likely be too large to fill but it will be fun to revisit and see how much you know after reading compared to before. You can also check to see if you learned what was on your “want to know “ list. 
  • (Ideal for upper elementary) This amazing interactive book is filled with mini quizzes and “try this” activities to do with your kids/students. You really just have to get your hands on a copy and see for yourself!

Greta and The Giants: Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Stand to Save the World by Zoe Persico

This story is a fictional take on real life Greta Thunberg’s activism. In the story the forest animals ask Greta for help from the Giants who are destroying their home. Greta faces the giants alone with nothing but a sign. Slowly more and more people and animals join her until the Giants take notice and change their ways.

Activities:

  • (Ideal for upper elementary) Research about the real Greta Thunberg and what the climate strikes are. Talk about how your child/students can get involved and help support the global movement.
  • (Ideal for upper elementary) Greta isn’t the only incredible youth activist. Make “earth hero” bio card about another young climate activist(s). Here is a resource that highlights 5 other young activists to follow.
Click here for printable version

Which is your favourite book to read about our planet with your own children or students? Let us know below! 

For more kid friendly Earth Day celebration ideas click here!

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