I’ve noticed a number of people recommending children’s books in celebration of Earth Day, which is coming up this Thursday.  We, too, have several books about Earth Day, recycling, saving energy and so on.  Those books are great as teaching tools, but I also think it is important for children to have books that simply inspire them to love and respect nature.  Here are a few books that have encouraged my own children in their love, curiosity and exploration of their surroundings.

Modern titles…

1.    Fairy Houses, by Tracy Kane.  As a result of this book, my daughter has spent countless hours outdoors building her own fairy houses.  The best part of the book comes after the story, where kids will find instructions for building their own fairy houses using only natural materials.  There are ideas for each season, meaning you can send your kids outside in winter to build them too!  The creators of this series also have a fantastic website.  Here is a fairy house that Em built just a few days ago.

2.    When the Wolves Returned, by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent.  With stunning photos and factual writing that does not resort to preachiness (is that a word? I guess if Stephen Colbert can coin truthiness…), this book beautifully explains the full ecological effect of removing a large predator from an ecosystem – in this case the wolves from Yellowstone National Park.  Now that the wolves are back, the park is moving back to balance.

3.   Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick.  Because it was one of the first books my daughter owned.  Because the photographer/authors are from Northern Michigan.  Because those photos capture the beauty of Northern Michigan creatures in the winter.  Because the story created around the photos is so adorable.  And finally, because the dedication reads: “For those who protect wild places and to the snowman that lives in every child’s heart.”

4.    Look to the North: a Wolf Pup Diary, by Jean Craighead George.  Yes, I realize I’ve included two books on wolves, but they are perhaps one of the most misunderstood and mistreated creatures in the northern hemisphere.  There isn’t anybody better to introduce young children to these animals than Jean Craighead George, famed author of My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves.  I love how she grounds the child-reader in time with phrases on each page such as this: “When you are eating July’s abundant corn on the cob, look to the north.  A change is coming to wolfdom.”

5.    Gas Trees and Car Turds: A Kid’s guide to the Roots of Global Warming, by Kirk Johnson and Mary Ann Bonnell.  For budding scientists, this book provides a simple, factual explanation of global warming in an irreverent way.  In the book, we follow the main character, See-oh-too, through his natural cycles and then see what happens when he multiplies.  This is pretty deep science explained in a way that both interests and amuses kids with lots of great visuals for abstract concepts.  For example, the See-oh-too gas released from burning a gallon of gasoline would fill up a backyard bouncy castle, resulting in five pounds of car turds!

…Plus a few classics

1.    The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss.  Such a sweet depiction of a boy with the utmost faith in a seed and the earth it is planted in.  Quiet elation over the expected result.  We read this book each year when we plant carrots, and then again when we eat the first few.

2.    Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen.  So perfectly captures that breathless moment when you see a creature of rare beauty in the wild.

3.    The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss.  Of course!  No list could be complete without this book.  The Lorax – he speaks for the trees.  The trees have no tongues.

What are some picture books with a nature/earth theme that you would recommend?  I would especially appreciate scoop on titles about the ocean, rainforest, and other places farther away from us here in Colorado.  Happy reading!

Categories: Authors, Children's Books · Tags: , ,



  1. The Lorax! Love that book. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  2. Yikes! I’ve never read the Lorax! I’ll fetch it from the library. Don’t know how I could have missed a Dr. Seuss book! I too love Carrot Seed and Owl Moon.

    Some of our favorites are:

    Miss Rumphius (she visits exotic places)
    The Salamander Room (a boy’s room turns into exotic place)
    Inch by Inch (The Garden Song)
    A Tree is Nice
    The Encyclopedia of Animals – huge book great for browsing

    • Yes, you really must get the Lorax. I dare you to read it aloud and not cry at the end. 🙂

      I know Miss Rumphius, but not the others you listed. I’ll have to check them out. The Salamander Room looks especially good. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Another great one is Peter Brown’s “The Curious Garden.” Here’s the link on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Curious-Garden-Peter-Brown/dp/0316015474

    • I just read about Peter and that book on 7 imps the other day. It’s amazing! I’m going to look for it next time I go to the library.

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