These 11 Earth Day books for kids are the perfect tools for reaching your children to be kind to the environment. With themes like recycling, activism, and the beauty of nature, these stories encourage kids to love our planet and to think twice about how their actions might affect the environment.
“Can’t you just use a wipe?” I asked my seven-year-old, who was reaching for a too-high towel to clean up her mess while I was in the middle of cleaning up a different mess.
“No,” she said, with a lot of confidence for someone who was talking to a mother in the middle of so many messes. “They’re not reusable and that’s bad for the environment.”
I stared at her for a second, a tiny bit awestruck, before dropping everything and helping her get the towel. Score one for the mess maker. And score one for mom too, while we’re at it. Moments like this one are what make me realize that all of the behaviors I try to model do seep into those little brains. They see it over and over and over again until they’re doing it too.
It also helps to read stories that enforce what I’m trying to teach them. Instead of just rolling their eyes at another Life Lesson from Mom, my girls suddenly see that I’m not the only one who thinks or feels or acts a certain way.
These 11 books are perfect for Earth Day, but they’re also perfect for raising eco-conscious humans who think twice about their impact on the environment.
11 Earth Days Books for Kids That Teach Them to Be Kind to the Environment
We are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child
The girls and I love Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola series. This one, like the Berenstain Bears book, is about taking action. When Lola sees their friend Marty’s messy room, she decides she never wants hers to look like that and starts throwing everything away. Big brother Charlie teaches her about recycling, which leads to her reading a book about it and finding a recycling contest. If Charlie and Lola recycle one hundred tin cans, one hundred plastic things and one hundred things made of paper, they can win their own tree to plant wherever they’d like. They quickly realize they can’t do it all on their own and they enlist the help of their whole school.
The Berenstain Bears Go Green by Jan and Mike Berenstain
In this story, the Bear family is out on a little fishing adventure in their local creek when they notice a horrible smell. Soon, they realize that waste from a dump is leaking into the water. Mama Bear is horrified and decides the family is going to do something about it. In the end, the whole town works together to clean up the dump. I love that the Bear family recognizes a problem and sets out to do something about it.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
This one is a classic and a no brainer. Dr. Seuss is fantastic at drawing kids in with colorful language and illustrations. It creates a totally captive audience, ready to soak up whatever info you might be ready to teach. For anyone who doesn’t know, The Lorax tells the story of the Once-ler, who used the tufts of special trees to knit Thneeds. The Lorax came, speaking for the trees and warning the Once-ler against it. But a little bit of money filled the Once-ler with greed and eventually—even though the Lorax repeatedly warned against it, the Once-ler grew his factories bigger and bigger and cut down more trees until there was nothing left but a barren wasteland. A tale of caution, it will definitely get older kids thinking.
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
The Magic School Bus series is another favorite of ours. In this one, Mrs. Frizzle’s class is doing a play on climate change. When they realize the information they’re using is out-of-date, the Friz puts them on the bus and they travel around the world, noticing the changes in the environment. Soon, she shrinks them down to see why the changes are happening. The kids learn about greenhouse gases before Mrs. Frizzle teaches them about alternative energy. When they return to the school, the kids get to work making changes to conserve energy.
The Earth Book by Todd Parr
With simple, colorful pictures, Todd Parr’s book breaks down the little things that can be done every day to make a huge difference in keeping the Earth healthy. I love that Parr lists simple things (like using both sides of a piece of paper) and then explains how it helps (“I love the trees and I want the owls to have a place to live”). This book is done in his signature style: it’s playful and engaging but it doesn’t talk down to kids or try to explain too-big concepts. It strikes the perfect balance.
Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli
When Miss Fox rides to school on her bicycle, her students have a lot of questions. Miss Fox explains that she’s just going green to keep the Earth healthy and her students decide they want to jump on board too. They list some changes they could make (both silly and serious) and start thinking twice about their habits at home. By the end of the story, people outside of the classroom have started to take note and they’re making changes too.
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
This book combines Eric Carle’s gorgeous illustrations with the tale of a tiny (but mighty!) seed. We follow the little seed over the course of a year, watching it blow from a flower in the fall, drift, and root itself. Eventually, it becomes a giant flower and its own little seeds fly off in the wind. Perfect for teaching little ones about the life cycle of a seed!
Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington
Gabby and her grandma love to work on projects that are good for the Earth together. They make reusable bags and then fill them with bottles to recycle at the grocery store. They head to the farmer’s market t0 buy local. I love how this book makes earth-friendly choices a centerpiece of the relationship between the girl and her grandma. They have lots of fun together—and being eco-conscious is a regular part of their life.
Don’t Throw That Away by Lara Bergen
This one is a great option for younger kids. Made from 100% recycled material, this lift-the-flap book features a little pigtailed girl in a superhero cape who shares ways to recycle and reuse common household items. She tells little readers that you can turn an old jar into a new vase, a jug into a bird feeder, and more. Simple and cute, it will get little kids thinking in new ways.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Liam lives in a dreary city with no greenery to speak of. While most people stay indoors, he likes to go out and explore. During one of his adventures, Liam finds a tiny patch of plants growing on top of an old, abandoned railway. He decides to be its gardener. With love and affection, Liam turns that tiny little patch into something that takes over the whole city.
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
This beautiful, whimsical book is about nature-loving Miss Maple, who gathers lost seeds and cares for them. She helps them explore places to grow, mothers them, and keeps them safe until it’s time to let them go off on their own and grow into the beautiful plants they’re destined to be. It’s a sweet story about nurturing nature that doesn’t scream Earth Day but is a great addition to any discussion about nature.
For more posts filled with nature and/or eco-conscious goodness:
- 7 Books That Will Make You Crave Outdoor Adventures
- Earth Day Activities for Kids
- Welcome to the Jungalow | Plants As Decor
- Eco-Friendly Organization
- DIY Green Cleaning Recipes
For more book picks, check out our What We Read series and our list of 30 Picture Books Your Family Is Guaranteed to Love. You can also now shop my favorite books in my Amazon store.
This post was first published in April of 2015. It was completely updated in April 2018.