A young child with brown hair and a zip up jacket is in a field. They are blowing on a dandelion. A barn is in the background.

Exploring the World Through Books: Eight Books to Teach Kids About the Earth

April 21, 2024

In a world increasingly dominated by digital distractions, instilling a love and appreciation for the Earth in our children has never been more crucial. Earth Day serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of environmental education and stewardship. Introducing children to the importance of conservation instills a lifelong appreciation for the planet and a sense of responsibility toward its protection. As we celebrate Earth Day, use the opportunity to share books about our world.

Through books and stories about Earth Day, children can explore critical concepts such as sustainability, conservation, biodiversity, and climate change in an accessible and engaging way. By fostering a love for reading about Earth Day, we empower children to become informed and environmentally conscious citizens.

From colorful picture books that introduce the wonders of the planet to captivating stories that explore environmental themes, literature offers a gateway to understanding and caring for our home. Here are eight inspiring and thought-provoking books that not only entertain but also educate and empower our youngest readers to take action and become stewards of the planet for future generations.

What If Everybody Did That? By Ellen Javernick

This book gives a glimpse into what the world would look like if everyone tossed the rules out the window. The illustrations are hilarious and engaging, bringing to life what impacts those seemingly minor rule-bending things like littering actually have. This is great for younger elementary school-age children to envision cause and effect in the environment.

The Lorax By Dr. Seuss

This childhood classic demonstrates in rhyme and bright colors what happens when all the Truffula trees are removed to make more of the Thneeds, the trendy clothing in town. Ultimately, the resources of the Truffula trees are all used, not just impacting the tree population but also those animals who rely on the trees for their environment. The Once-ler, who only understood their impact once it was too late, asks the reader to learn from their mistakes and to be a guardian of the last Truffula seed. The Lorax highlights the importance of conservation and stewardship of the environment while cautioning on the impacts of popularity and overconsumption.

Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty

What better way to learn about the Earth than from Earth itself? Earth shares its most significant milestones across the years, highlighting the diverse ecosystem and geological features it has developed over time. While funny at times, the scientifically accurate account shares what makes Earth unique and why the reader needs to be a steward of its environment.

Listen to the Language of the Trees by Tera Kelley

The beautifully illustrated book shares the story of how forests communicate underground and support wildlife above ground. It provides scientifically accurate details that educate and entertain readers. While learning details about the tree network, readers learn the importance of protecting trees, as their impact goes beyond the tree itself.

Save the Bees, written and illustrated by Bethany Stahl

While many children fear bees, this story explains why bees are essential to the environment. With bright illustrations, the story shares bees’ role in pollination and how that simple act impacts the plants and animals around them. This book is part of the Save the Earth series, a great way to expand on learning the impact of animals and recycling around the world.

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle by Alison Inches

Recycling is a concept that may be difficult for more minor children to understand. Why does putting a plastic bottle in the green bin make a difference? This book shares the story of a plastic bottle from its manufacturing to use and then reuse. Putting recycling in real terms with a humorous take on the adventure provides an engaging story that children can understand. It encourages them to look at recycling in a totally different light.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

While the story is now also a film, the book details William Kamkwamba and how he is inspired to build a windmill from scrap materials in his village in Malawi. The inspiring story shares the real-time impact a child can have in their town and, ultimately, the world. It also showcases innovative thinking in addition to environmental stewardship.

50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save The Earth (or The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth) by EarthWorks Group

This book provides tangible ways children can change their impact on the environment. From reusing items creatively to planting trees, this encourages children to make conscious choices that impact their household and beyond. This a great book for tweens and teens, providing actionable steps they can begin on their own. The book is organized into chapters providing activities, facts, illustrations, and real-life examples of impact. The book inspires children to take responsibility for their choices and the difference they can make in the world. These books provide colorful stories with tangible ways children and teens can be stewards and conservators of their environment, impacting the world on Earth Day and beyond.

Our literacy tips are brought to you by Reader’s Digest Foundation.