Raising Tree-Huggin’ Bookworms: 20 Great Illustrated Books to Celebrate Earth Day

kids earth day book 2

Join the #NoniTribe in celebrating Earth day with a series of great books for kids about our beautiful planet. Children are always hungry to connect with their world and learn what they can do to make a positive difference, so I think these beautifully illustrated works do a great job of inspiring kids – not only to grab the books – but also to take notice of the environment. As we approach Earth Day, one of our favorite days of the year, we’ve handpicked 15 incredible selections to inspire little tree huggers to take action. Who knows? Maybe getting a book to celebrate #EarthDay every year con be a new family tradition?


The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong (2007, Grades PreK-2)

This little book really brings home the old saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Steve the electrician dives for buried treasure right smack here in our backstreet alley. In this quirky tale, the neighborhood kids help Steve with his dumpster diving and transform junk into wonderful, often useful, treasures.

Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel (2008, K-2)

A fun rhyming story about Michael Recycle, who descends upon a town and inspires them to clean up their trash and go green. After cleaning up a town, the people declare: “To Michael Recycle! The green-caped crusader, our super-green hero, the planet’s new savior!”


Where in the World is Away? by Michael Franti (2011, Grades 1-3)

The story follows Little Lee and Little Lou as they contemplate the best place to throw their juice bottle “away.” When they encounter Mo the Crow, he teaches them about recycling and reuse. This cute rhyme book raises awareness about something not even adults sometimes realize! Where’s does all my trash go?

What Planet are You from Clarice Bean? by Lauren Child (2002, Grades K-4)

When Clarice’s brother decides to save their neighborhood tree from being chopped down, the whole family gets involved, and Clarice’s school project gets more complicated.


Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future by Alan Drummond (2016, Grades K-4)

When a tornado swept through Greensburg, Kansas, the city was destroyed in nine minutes flat. While the community was small, they were resilient and passionate about rebuilding. As the town began to rebuild, they decided to take advantage of the opportunity to make their community even better by building a greener community.


These Seas Count! (These Things Count!) by Allison Formento (2013, Grades PreK-2)

Mr. Tate’s class helps clean trash off a beach and from the sea while learning from Captain Ned — and the sea — about the ocean’s animal life (counted from 1-10) and why it’s important for us to keep our oceans clean.

RECOMMENDED: Book Club: 5 Amazing Books to Inspire your Homeschool Journey


Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint by Femida Handy and Carole Carpenter
(2010, Grades K-2)

Sandy loves visiting her Grandpa’s house each summer and playing on the beach. One day she discovers a whole mess of trash left on the beach. As she picks it up, she encounters the “Garbage Lady” who encourages Sandy to think about ways she can reduce her ecological footprint: “.. the footprint of your life is the mark you leave on the world. Its size depends on what you eat … what you play with … how you get around .. all kinds of little choices can make your footprint smaller.”


Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World (2010, Grades 1-5)

Wangari Maathai was raised to respect the trees in her community. When she’s given the chance to go to school, she uses her education to help her community and to restore the environmental destruction that has occurred in Kenya. She launches the Green Belt Movement and helps foster the economic security of women in Kenya and beyond. Despite much resistance to such a powerful woman, Wangari is elected to Kenya’s parliament and wins a Nobel Peace Prize.


Our House Is Round: A Kid’s Book About Why Protecting Our Earth Matters by Yolanda Kondonassis (2012, Grades 1-4)

“Our Earth has gotten messy. What should we do?” Through questions and simple information, the author encourages readers to think critically about how the Earth has gotten “messy,” how our actions affect the planet, and how we can do more good and less harm.


Stuff!: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Steven Kroll (2009, Grades PreK-3)

When the neighborhood has a tag sale, Pinch the pack rat doesn’t want to give up any of his stuff. But when he sees how much money he can make from selling his stuff (and how good it feels to declutter his home), Pinch gets an idea that will help the whole community.


Moon’s Messenger by Virginia Kroll (2016, Grades K-3)

Moon is sitting on a beach when a sea turtle approaches her and asks her to join him on a journey to see some of the destruction humans have caused to animals and the earth. Although Moon is disheartened about what she learns — climate change, habitat destruction, oil spills, and more — she feels hopeful when she learns what she can do to make a positive difference.


Each Living Thing by Joanne Ryder (2000, Grades PreK-2)

In rhyming text, readers are invited to celebrate the creatures of the earth and are encouraged to respect and protect them.

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The Tree: An Environmental Fable by Neal Layton (2017, Grades PreK-2)

A sparsely worded book in which a human family buys a plot of land with a large tree on it. When they begin to cut down the tree to build their own home, they discover that the tree is a home to many nonhuman animals. Immediately contrite, the couple does what they can to repair their mistake and to find ways to live in harmony with their new animal neighbors.


One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul (2015, Grades 1-4)

Used to items that biodegrade back into the earth, the people of Njau, Gambia, just dropped their plastic bags whenever they broke or were no longer needed. Bags began to clog roads and waterways and bring disease and kill animals. Isatou noticed the harm all the bags were causing and decided to do something. She began gathering up the plastic bags, cleaning them, and crocheting them into purses. Soon Isatou taught other women in the village to crochet the plastic into new items, and they began selling them at local markets and beyond.


A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz (2014, Grades K-3)

Alan stutters … except when he talks to animals, like the jaguar at the Bronx Zoo. It makes Alan sad to see animals in cages, and he promises the animals that “if I can every find my voice, I will be their voice and keep them from harm.” Alan’s passion for helping animals takes him to Belize, where he uses his voice to convince the government to create a jaguar preserve.


Love Your World: How to Take Care of the Plants, the Animals, and the Planet by Dawn Sirett (2009, Grades PreK-1)

Using colorful photographs, a “green team” of young children show different ways kids can “love our world” and do things “the greener way.” Suggestions are both general (e.g., “love animals”) and specific (e.g., “We won’t leave litter anywhere.”)

Sheila Says We’re Weird by Ruth Ann Smalley (2011, Grades K-2)

Sheila is friends with a family she says is pretty weird. She doesn’t understand why they bike instead of drive, conserve energy and water, or grow food in their own garden; but she seems to enjoy their flowers and homemade soup, their cozy woodstove and their homemade popcorn. In fact, Sheila seems to like hanging out with them quite a lot.

Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli (2009, Grades PreK-2)

When Miss Fox arrives at school via her bicycle, her students learn that Miss Fox is “going green.” Soon everyone in her class is working to make choices that can help the earth, and their message soon spreads to the whole school.


The EARTH Book by Todd Parr (2009, Grades PreK-2)

“I take care of the earth because I know I can do little things every day to make a BIG difference.” The narrator lists several simple actions each of us can take to create a better world so that we can all — human and nonhuman — be “happy and healthy.”

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We are always anxious to hear recommendations from the #Nonitribe. Send us your selections and we’ll share them on our site (editor@learnwithnoni.com).

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