Earth Day reading for kids
I was at a local bookstore the other day and noticed a nice display of earth-friendly books for kids.
A surprising variety was available -- I guess marketers have caught on to this environmental thing. Dora, Curious George, Blue, Fancy Nancy and even Mickey Mouse have all gone green.
Some of the books are a bit dry and preachy, but if you'd like to buy one for your child in honor of Earth Day, here are a few I'd recommend:
1. "The Earth Book" by Todd Parr (hardcover, $9.99)
The popular author of "The I Love You Book" and "The Feel Good Book," among others, is back with an ode to what children can do to take care of the Earth -- and why. "I use both sides of the paper and bring my own bags to the market because ... I love the trees and I want the owls to have a place to live."
The book has Parr's signature illustrations, crayon-like drawings with thick black outlines that just make you smile. Bonus: it comes with a "Go Green" poster with "10 Ways I Can Help the Earth."
(I actually bought this one.)
2. "Earth Day - Hooray!" by Stuart J. Murphy (paperback, $5.99)
Suitable for older grade schoolers, this book is part of the MathStart series by HarperCollins, which uses pictures to teach math.
Kids at the Maple Street School's Save-the-Planet Club are cleaning up nearby Gilroy Park, site of this year's Earth Day celebration. They organize a drive to recycle 5,000 cans so they can raise money to plant flowers in the park.
Readers learn math as the characters track their progress toward the goal, and the watercolor illustrations incorporate lots of facts about recycling.
(I bought this one, too -- I'm a sucker for books.)
3. "It's Earth Day!" by Mercer Mayer (paperback, $3.99)
Who doesn't love the Critter family? After learning how climate change can affect the Arctic, the Critter kids talk about ways they can conserve resources by riding the bus, saving water, etc. Then Brother gets the bright idea to build a climate control machine to keep the ice from melting and save the polar bears. It doesn't work, but he learns a valuble lesson in the process.
(I almost bought this one, but restrained myself.)
4. "Michael Recycle," by Ellie Bethel (hardcover, $15.99)
This green-caped crusader with a colander teachers the townfolk to clean up Abberdo-Rimey, "where garbage was left to grow rotten and slimy." In the sequel, "Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug" (also $15.99), our superhero persuades evil Doug to clean up the mountain of waste he's created outside of town and join the green effort.
Both books include several pages of "Go Green Tips." You may want to look for the paperback version, available through Scholastic.
5. "Fancy Nancy: Every Day Is Earth Day" by Jane O'Connor (paperback $3.99)
Perfect for the fancy (and bossy?) 4 to 6-year-old in your life, this book is part of the "I Can Read" beginning reader series.
Nancy, who teaches kids "fancy" words, doesn't love the color green but likes being green and decides to teach her family a thing or two. After her mom loses some important work when Nancy turns off the computer -- "She is very irritated. (That is fancy for mad.)" -- Nancy learns how to be green without being bossy.
(Yes, I bought this one, too. What can I say?)
6. "We Planted a Tree," by Diane Muldrow (hardcover, $17.99)
Two families from very different parts of the world plant a tree and watch it grow through the seasons of life, learning how trees create shade, produce fruit and clean the air. The verse is simple and poetic -- "We planted a tree, and it grew up, and so did we" -- and the lovely illustrations by award-winner Bob Staake have an international flavor.
7. Blues Clues: "Watch Me Grow! Blue Plants a Seed" by Lauryn Silverhardt (paperback, $4.99)
Good for preschoolers, this book is part of Nickleodeon's "The Big Green Help" series. Blue and friends learn about plants and school and get to decorate a flower pot and plant a seed. They watch and wait for it to grow so they can find out what it will be as they learn how plants benefit the earth.
8. "The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge" by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
Mrs. Frizzle and her students are back, this time exploring facts about global warming for a school play. Their adventure takes them from the Arctic to the Equator, and they shrink to see what's exactly in air and why it's making the world warmer.
Chock full of fun illustrations and facts, the Magic School Bus series teaches kids science in a fresh way.
Twitter follower Todd Sweet (@tmsweet) also suggests: "Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa." I haven't read this one but plan to. It looks beautiful.
Anyone have others to recommend?
We'll have these and more suggestions from the UI's Center for Children's Books in Sunday's News-Gazette Features section!