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Being Green: Preschool Books About Earth Day, Environmentalism, and Recycling

Updated on March 23, 2012

Earth Day is celebrated on April 21 in the United States and International Earth Day is celebrated on March 21, or the date of the Spring Equinox. Earth Day is a day set aside to take care of the Earth and to address issues such as global warming and the use of Earth's natural resources.

Many slogans are associated with Earth Day: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is probably the most familiar. My selections for Earth Day include fiction, nonfiction, and a few craft books, since the most fun way to recycle is to make something fun and creative! Most of the nonfiction books I have selected are geared to the earlier elementary grades instead of to preschoolers. If you are preparing a preschool storytime program, you may want to redouble and look at the selections for Arbor Day, here.

Earth Day is April 22: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Return!
Earth Day is April 22: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Return!
Compost Stew
Compost Stew
Don't Throw That Away
Don't Throw That Away
I Can Save The Earth
I Can Save The Earth
Thre R's
Thre R's
The Smash Smash Truck
The Smash Smash Truck
Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?
Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?

Especially appropriate for young preschoolers would be A Tree is Nice, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Where Once There Was a Wood from my Arbor Day theme are great selections for preschoolers to help them appreciate the natural world around them.

Fiction Children's Books for Earth Day

  • I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle by Alison Inches and Viviana Galifoli. Little Green Books. This highly acclaimed book geared to older preschoolers and up tells about Little Monster and all of the bad habits that are preventing him from helping save the Earth. When he mends his ways he learns that he can be part of the solution and not part of the problem. This book teaches easy and appropriate habits to help young children reduce, reuse, and recycle without preaching at the audience, and entertains all the way to the end of the story.
  • Don't Throw That Away! by Lara Bergen and Betsy Snyder is a lift-the-flap board book that focuses on the "reuse" aspect of the environmental message "reduce, reuse, recycle." The book suggest several ways to re-purpose objects like glass jars, old clothes, and plastic bottles. This book is geared to very young children, but the message is straightforward and empowering.
  • The Earth and I by Frank Asch is one of the prettiest books about the environment and conservation that you'll find, and it's geared to very young readers. Illustrated in a bright wash of purple, blue, green, and red watercolors the illustrations are eye-catching and the story is simple and straightforward. A young boy has a special relationship with his friend, the Earth. He feeds the earth, the earth feeds him. Some reviewers have called this book overly sentimental, but for its intended audience it is perfect.
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is the story of a resourceful tailor who repurposes his old overcoat into all kinds of things. Each new item Joseph makes is smaller than the previous, and it's fun to anticipate each new creation. This book has cutaway openings in the pages and is a Caldecott award winner. You can read my full review of this story by clicking on the title.
  • Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals and Ashley Wolff has fun,rhyming text, colorful illustrations, and an Earth Day angle that isn't ANOTHER book about a young child or inanimate object dressed as a superhero for Earth Day. This book explains in a very fun and appealing way how earth naturally recycles materials in a process of decomposition to make good soil for growing things. HubPages author Veronica Allen wrote a Review of Compost Stew which you may enjoy reading.

Nonfiction Children's Books for Earth Day

  • I Love Our Earth by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, and Dan Lipow is a simple children's book of appreciation for the beauty of the earth. The book features photographs of children and lovely landscapes with a poem by Bill Martin Jr. I Love Our Earth may offer a welcome relief from more heavy-handed treatments of environmentalism and focuses on the beauty of the earth instead of the ways humankind is mistreating it.
  • The Three R's: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca and Rosa M. Curto is a nonfiction book for very young readers that explains the three R's listed in the title of the book, and gives examples of ways to do each one. This book is in my list of selections because it is written to a younger age group than most of the other nonfiction books about ecology and environmentalism.

  • The Smash Smash Truck by Aidan Potts (aka Professor Potts) is a book that blends fiction and nonfiction elements to explain the process of recycling glass. The Smash Smash truck refers to a recycling truck that breaks used glass bottles into millions of tiny pieces and then takes the recycled glass pieces to a glass factory where new bottles are made. This book features a lot of smashing and crashing and will hold a special appeal to boys of a certain age. The book has a comic book quality and detailed illustrations with a glowing superhero truck driver.

  • Why Are the Ice Caps Melting? by Anne Rockwell and Paul Meiser. Second grade readers and up will find this book about the greenhouse effect and the causes of global warming to be a good starting point for their research into this hotly-debated topic. This book is a popular classroom resource because it includes kid-friendly pictures, but some readers called into question a few of the facts of this book, such as rapidly rising tides and year over year rising temperatures. Nevertheless, this book offers a simple explanation to help understand the key issues involved in a topic that includes many grey areas, and suggests that taking care of the Earth through environmentally responsible measures is a good idea, even if some of the things thought to cause global warming turn out not to be causes after all.

Green Craft Ideas for Earth Day

  • What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe? by Anna Alter is a short craft book that includes cute picture book-style illustrations and a poem introduces each of the crafts in the series. This book is only 32 pages long and includes 13 crafts.
  • Green Crafts for Children: 35 Step-by-Step Projects Using Natural, Recycled, And Found Materials by Emma Hardy. This book is worth a look for its cover alone. The appealing photographs suggest finished projects you will want to share and gift, not just make and throw away.
  • Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Cindy Gainer.

  • Ecoart!: Earth-Friendly Art and Craft Experiences for 3-To 9-Year-Olds (Williamson Kids Can! Series) by Laurie Carlson. I own two other books in this series of arts and crafts books. If this book is anything like the others I own in the Kids Can! series, then it will be jam-packed with projects for every season of the year.


Submit a Comment

  • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

    William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

    Great selections. I'm so pleased our two grandkids, girl, 7, boy, 10, are so environmentally conscious, already. They live in Austin, TX, that helps, but so do active parents. Thanks for sharing this information! ;-)

  • wannabwestern profile image

    Carolyn Augustine 5 years ago from The Land of Tractors

    Thanks very much kidscrafts!

  • kidscrafts profile image

    kidscrafts 5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

    Thank you for all the book suggestions! Great resources!

  • wannabwestern profile image

    Carolyn Augustine 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors

    Thanks Dim, I agree. During the 80s we lost our way with our decades of hyperconsumerism after the mellow 70s. Now we need to get back to taking care of our earth and being stewards over our land and water resources so we don't poison ourselves! No matter what stand a person takes on this issue, I think it is an important one for children to investigate for themselves.

  • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

    Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

    I was immediately drawn to ´´Why are the ice caps melting?´ since I am so fond of Peguins and Polar Bears.

    I loved your point that it is a good book to encourage children to take care of our earth, no matter what the truth be about Global warming.

    One for my grandchildren for sure. Thank you.