Today’s EARTH DAY! Earth Day is one of my fave holidays because it’s just so incredibly nice: no fighting over the dinner table, no whining about not getting this or that present, and a whole lot of LET’S SAVE THE PLANET!
I thought about a few different ways we could mark Earth Day on Offbeat Mama and settled on this: books. I fucking love reading, and try to work books onto the website in as many ways as I possibly can. As you’ll soon see, these all feature Earth-friendly themes (recycling, environmental activism, etc.) and are broken up into suitable age groups!
For the smallest kidlets: birth to three years old
- Don’t Throw That Away!: A Lift-the-Flap Book about Recycling and Reusing: this book is a perfect introduction to the age-old mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It gives kids all kinds of environmentally-friendly tips, like turning an old jar into a flower vase, or a milk carton into a bird feeder. PLUS, it’s made from recycled materials.
- Nos Gusta Vivir Verde / We Like to Live Green: this book shows what happens to a world that is threatened by pollution, and is a perfect way to clue your little one in on the more tragic consequences of many actions humans make. The illustrations are bright and thoughtful, and the book is available in English-only OR bilingual versions.
- Eco Babies Wear Green: this book is part of a larger series of relatives (including Rocker Babies Wear Jeans and Urban Babies Wear Black). It’s a little silly, but it IS for the under-three set, so that’s to be expected. The kiddos ride in cars in the carpool lane and visit farmer’s markets to buy locally grown produce with their parents.
Movin’ on up: four to eight years old
- Eco-Student’s Guide to Being Green at School (Point It Out! Tips for Green Living): at $25.99, this book is a bit pricey, but it’s a great introduction to friendlier ways of living for the pre-and-elementary school set. The book discusses various ways students can help contribute to making the world healthier, all while using items that they already have (backpacks, textbooks, etc.).
- Big Earth, Little Me: this book is great because it directly brings your child(ren) into it: each page has something like, “I can turn off the lights” or “I can recycle” written on it. It’s designed for kids who are new at reading — simple sentences convey much more complex ideas.
- I Heard the Willow Weep: with its half-poem, half-save-the-world message intact, this book motivates little ones to do their best to protect the environment. Each line of the book ends with a word that rhymes with “weep.” The book was published in 2000, but its illustrations and messages are still relevant today.
- The Nutria Frog Kingdom: the premise of the book is that a hurricane has damaged the swamps of Louisiana. The Nutria frogs find their habitat is becoming overtaken with pollution and grime, and are trying to find a way to relocate. Two cousins (a boy and a girl) find their way to the swamplands and discover what kind of impact humans really can have on the world.
Tweenin’: nine to twelve years old
- Heroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet: each of these twelve chapters tells the story of a real-life person who is doing his or her part to help the planet. The final bit of the book offers suggestions for how readers of all ages can become more active in their own communities.
- Nobody Particular: One Woman’s Fight to Save the Bays: Diane Wilson is a shrimp farmer from Texas who discovers chemicals are poisoning the water she and her community drink from. In addition to degrading their health, this is also causing a huge strain on her work. She underwent a hunger strike to try to force the federal government to enforce its own laws, and this book tells her story. It’s an awesome bit of non-fiction about environmental activism for kids.
- Protecting the Planet: Environmental Activism (Green Generation): this book focuses on the concept of climate change, and discusses the various problems impacting the air, water, soil, forests, and animals of the world. The author’s suggestions are pretty standard for today’s environmentally-friendly generation (take shorter showers, eat organic), but she makes a point of explaining WHY these things really matter.
- The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet: in what is truly a great building block to add to the books for earlier years, this book challenges teens to come up with innovative ways they can contribute to cleaning up the environment. Suggestions such as starting a school recycling program are likely to fall on eager ears.
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1: just to mix it up, this is a graphic novel about Nausicaa, a princess living in an “ecological system born in the polluted wastelands created by civilizations long past.” In her world, it’s been a thousand years since the “mammoth industrial civilizations” of the past died off — so this is one spectacular look into what the world could be like in the future if we keep up with our ways.
- Connected Wisdom: Living Stories About Living Systems: this truly spectacular piece of literature shares twelve stories from various cultures, thus showing the inter-connectedness of the world. If you can get your teen understanding that we live in systems, he or she will be infinitely less likely to cite only one reason for challenges, and will see the connections between animals, people, nature, and more.
Do you guys know of any stellar enviromentally-friendly books that I missed? Let me know!
Now, get out there and teach your kid to hug a tree or something!