Green Earth Books: A Book List for Earth Day!
Chick eggs arrived in my son’s kindergarten classroom last week. The students will observe the eggs in the tiny incubator for approximately 21 days, at which point the chicks will begin cracking their shells and transforming into adorable little fluff balls. The eggs/chicks are part of a unit on living and nonliving things in the Kindergarten curriculum. Even with snow on the ground, we see glimmers of spring and life all around. Birds chirping, dandelions forcing through the snowfall, and daffodils– bright and cheery, sparkling as the sun reflects off the snowflakes gathered on the petals. Spring is my favorite time of year, as the frosty winter slowly evolves into a season teaming with new life.
The date of the very first Earth Day was strategically placed between spring break and final exams in an effort to ensure that more college students would participate in the proposed protests and movement. In the Pacific Northwest, and much of the United States, Earth Day also occurs during the pivotal season of change, rebirth, and Mother Earth showing off her beauty and magic. What a perfect time to turn our attention toward protecting the planet– and all its many attributes.
Reflecting back on the history of Earth Day, we see young people at the forefront– campuses, elementary schools, and young activists. While this is not surprising, as younger generations are often at the forefront of political movements and protests, it is inspiring. Kindergarteners who eagerly await the arrival of the classroom chicks, who “I Spy” signs of spring, who are tuned into the wonder of the World, are primed and ready to learn about protecting The Earth. From Kindergarteners to college students, and beyond, Earth Day serves as a reminder of our collective responsibilities to care for our amazing planet!
BOOKS BREAK THE ICE ABOUT BREAKING ICE
My favorite way of exploring any topic with my kids is—you guessed it, with books! There are many books that cover topics of pollution, the Earth, climate change, environmental activism and activists, recycling, science and scientists, plants and animals, both fiction and nonfiction, picture books, and chapter books. I am grateful for the wide variety, but it can sometimes make it a bit tricky to know just where to start. Here’s a quick tip–find a list of books that have been nominated for or won an award. These books have been vetted and have a stamp of approval. For my 2023 Earth Day Book Recommendation List, I am pulling from The Green Earth Book Awards. Seems pretty fitting for Earth Day, don’t you think?
THE GREEN EARTH BOOK AWARD
“The Green Earth Book Award is the nation’s first environmental stewardship award for Children and Young Adult books. Since 2005, it has helped to identify and raise the profile of the best environmental fiction and non-fiction books and their authors. Just as importantly, NatGen works hard to get these amazing books into the hands of children and young adults, where the power of the stories that are being told can really make a difference.”The 2023 Green Earth Book Award Long List, 2023 winners will be announced on Earth Day–April 22, 2023.
PICTURE BOOKS AND CHAPTER BOOKS TO READ FOR EARTH DAY (and beyond)
Listen to the Language of the Trees: A Story of How Forests Communicate Underground, by Tera Kelley, illustrated by Marie Hermansson (Sourcebooks – Dawn Publications)
Botany and facts that read like a mystical fiction story, complete with engaging and detailed illustrations. One of my new favorites!
Count on Us! by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Sarah Walsh (Barefoot Books)
Simple and bright pages, prompted my 5-year-old to ask several questions that led to deep and important conversations about the Earth and much more!
Controlled Burn, by Erin Soderberg Downing (Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.)
Chapter book–”…Maia will soon learn that nature is a powerful teacher, and sometimes our greatest strengths show themselves when we have to be there for someone else. As Maia begins to figure out how to face her guilt and paralyzing fears, she’ll discover there’s a fine line between fear and adventure.”
The Aquanaut: A Graphic Novel, written and illustrated by Dan Santat (Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.)
Graphic novel–As a family, we are huge Dan Santat fans! My 10-year-old graphic novel lover was so excited to see his favorite genre and a favorite author/illustrator combined into one great book!
Wildoak, by C.C. Harrington (Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.)
Chapter book– “…Maggie reluctantly agrees to her mother’s intervention plan: a few weeks in the fresh air of Wildoak Forest, visiting a grandfather she hardly knows. It is there… She encounters an abandoned snow leopard cub, an exotic gift to a wealthy Londoner that proved too wild to domesticate. But once the cub’s presence is discovered by others, danger follows, and Maggie soon realizes that time is running out, not only for the leopard but for herself and the forest as well.”
Legend Keepers: The Partnership, by Bruce L. Smith (Hidden Shelf Publishing House)
Chapter book–the second book in the Legend Keepers Series, The Partnership introduces the first human character and digs deeper into the environmental messaging. A unique and engaging blend of facts and fantasy.
Water, Water, by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Jon McNaught (Tundra Book Group)
Chapter book– “One morning Rafe wakes up to discover his bedroom is floating in a vast sea of water. An unforgettable middle-grade novel with elements of James and the Giant Peach meets Waterworld and The Road.”
The Natural Genius of Ants, by Betty Culley (Crown BFYR, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)
Chapter book– “A summer ant farm grows into a learning experience for the entire family in this lyrical coming-of-age story…”
Wake, Sleepy One: California Poppies and the Super Bloom, by Lisa Kerr, illustrated by Lisa Powell Braun (West Margin Press)
Super Bloom poppy images flooding the news and social media make me want to experience it first hand, I was excited to get this book and find out more! Lyrical sentences at the top of the page with scientific facts along the bottom. Maybe someday I will make it to the Super Bloom in person, until then, Wake, Sleepy One: California Poppies and the Super Bloom.
To Change a Planet, by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Rahele Jomeour Bell (Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.)
The power of one person, becoming many– a hopeful and inspiring message for all ages.
Once Upon a Forest, by Pam Fong (Random House Studio., an imprint of Random House Children’s Books).
This book tells a powerful story without having to say a single word!
Keepers of the Reef, by Sharon Wismer, illustrated by Alice Wong (Tilbury House Publishers)
Beautiful illustrations, an introduction to the delicate balance and important ecosystems of the coral reefs. On the longer side for a picture book, with a decent amount of information. We found this more enjoyable to read over several reading sessions, rather than one sitting.
Scrap Metal Swan, by Joanne Linden, illustrated by Estrellita Caracol (Barefoot Books)
Illustrations crafted entirely by collage– utilizing reused papers and clippings from magazines and encyclopedias, a perfect visual representation of the book’s central message. My crafty kids especially liked this one!
Just Wild Enough, by Marta Magellan, illustrated by Clementine Rocheron (Albert Whitman & Co.)
The Girl Who Built An Ocean, by Jess Keating, illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
I am always grateful for books that demonstrate women and BIPOC in sciences and leadership. It is important to me that my kids see an array of diversity represented in these (and all) fields.
VENTURING BEYOND THE GREEN EARTH BOOKS
Legend Keepers: The Chosen One, Bruce Smith (Hidden Shelf Publishing House)
Chapter book– Award-winning debut novel in the Legend Keepers Series.
“…𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞…𝐀𝐧 𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐧𝐯𝐢𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐦𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐠𝐞.”
Get the e-book for .99¢ limited-time offer!
This is Climate Change- Visual Guide to the Facts. David Nelles and Christian Serrer.
Single-page iconography, paired with bite-sized, easy-to-absorb, incredibly important facts.
Wildflower Girl, Dana Stewart Quinney (Hidden Shelf Publishing House).
Adult Non-fiction/memoir– Winner of the 2019 Idaho Library Association Book of the Year Award!
“Born to love the richness and magic of the wilds, Dana rode horses and learned to fly fish from her father, a legendary guide. She learned the names of flowers and trees, and the habits of animals that lived nearby . . . she knew what forces built the landscape she saw from her bedroom window, and grew up to find adventure in the wild places of the world.”
Rachel Wickstrom coordinates marketing at Hidden Shelf Publishing house. She’s an avid reader, master party-planner, craft enthusiast, a mom to two young boys with wildly long hair, and is married to a hospital chaplain. As an Oregon native, Rachel’s childhood memories are scented with juniper berries and the crisp mountain air of Central Oregon. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho where her days are scented with lukewarm coffee, and spilled snacks.
Legend Keepers in the News
The Legend Keepers Series has won three awards due to its uniquely crafted narrative and important message– a blend of fantasy and fiction promoting an environmental message!
“I blended what we know about animals from research, and what we would like to know about animals but don’t — the stuff we imagine and wish we knew,” he said. “As a novelist, I have this freedom that I don’t have as a scientist writing nonfiction.”
Celebrating the Earth and Environmental Education: A Message From Our Kids’ Future
Science has the wonderful capacity to open young minds to possibilities. It prompts them to ask questions about the world they live in, especially the “how” and “why” questions.
I also believe that literature can enhance classroom science education. Both nonfiction and fiction—including eco-fiction—convey engaging and evocative examples of science in action. Such storytelling helps both young and old to see what’s possible. Stories inspire us to imagine what could be. We need to be able to imagine, to dream of the future we want. Only then can we seek and achieve it. This is our shared responsibility to future generations, and to planet Earth.
Hidden Shelf Catalog 2022
In Iceland, the beautiful tradition of “Jolabokaflod” translates to “Christmas Book Flood”. On the 24th of December, Icelanders give books to each other and then spend the night reading.
Perfect for a winter evening, the Icelandic tradition is finding its way to other book-reading nations.
Browse the 2022 Hidden Shelf Publishing House Catalog and participate in this wonderful tradition!