Americans have celebrated Earth Day since 1970, with other nations joining in beginning in 1990. The theme for 2023 is ‘Invest in Our Planet’. Participants are encouraged to ‘act boldly’ to slow climate change, ‘innovate broadly’ to protect earth’s resources, and ‘implement equitably’ so people around the world can thrive.
Earth Day always falls on April 22. Many communities plan events, especially when that date coincides with a weekend as it does this year. Check out what is happening in your neighborhood by searching “Earth Day events near me” online. In addition, use one or more of these recently published children’s books to help kids learn more about rainforests, weather cycles, and tree growth.
Rainforest Rescue. Part of a new series by British author Brendan Kearney, Forest follows sailor Finn and his dog Skip as they row down a river through a lush rainforest. The book’s illustrations depict all kinds of wildlife and plants until the adventurers happen upon an area of deforestation. There, they find a hungry tapir and pledge to help her. Other hungry animals also gather, some fleeing a big forest fire. Eventually, Finn, Skip, and the animals talk with some firefighters who explain what’s happening and how people can help save the forest. Read aloud with ages 3 and up; children 8 and older can also enjoy this book on their own.
Welcome Weather. It’s easy to wish rainy weather would go away when drought is not part of our everyday experience. But what if the ground is parched and creatures long for some cool shade? In Sidney the Lonely Cloud, author Tim Hopgood imagines how one rain cloud makes a difference in the lives of plants and animals in need of a good downpour. He even includes a bit of information about how clouds collect water as they drift across the ocean, which helps kids understand storm development. A quick and easy read, this picture book for ages 3-7 also offers children a chance to explore different feelings and perspectives on environmental events.
Slow Growth. A young tree can take a very long time to grow. In the early stages, it doesn’t offer much shade or provide any fruit to eat, which can frustrate gardeners. Authors Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso invite children to wonder, watch, and wait as a fig sapling slowly matures in The Good for Nothing Tree. The kids even have to step in and care for the tree when an adult gardener is ready to give up. They weed, prune, water, and mulch the fig tree until finally, they all picnic on the tree’s sweet, delicious fruit. A story about the benefits of patience as much as about trees, the authors even include a simple recipe for no-bake fig balls at the end of this story for ages 3 and up.