Every year on April 22, more than a billion people take time to reflect on the earth and its importance for human wellbeing. Schoolchildren study the effects of pollution on water supplies and plant health. Families work together to collect litter and recycle plastic containers. Reporters share climate change statistics and advocate for environmentally friendly practices.
It’s a day for eco-learning and activism. It’s also a great time to introduce young children to the idea that all living things are interconnected. While they may not understand the science behind environmental issues, they can grasp basic cause and effect and relationships. Couple this knowledge with an age-appropriate book, and they are on their way to becoming earth-keepers guarding the future of our planet. Celebrate Earth Day 2022 by reading aloud one of these picture books with children aged 3-8.
Apple and Magnolia (Walker Books, 2022). When one of Britta’s two favorite trees becomes sick, she does everything she can to help. She intuitively knows that trees communicate with and support one another, so she strings up lights between Apple and Magnolia and wraps them together with a very long scarf. Her older sister scoffs at her actions and her dad gently tries to prepare her for Magnolia’s death. But Nana affirms Britta’s efforts, saying that even trees can have powerful friendships. When Magnolia weathers the winter and bursts into bloom come spring, they celebrate together. Authors Laura Gehl and Patricia Metola include a note highlighting scientific discoveries about the supportive relationships that trees develop, from sharing nutrients through fungi to releasing gasses to warn of insects.
I Love You, Blue (Flyaway Books, 2022). A beautiful day for sailing turns stormy in this simple book by Barroux. When a sailor’s boat capsizes, he’s rescued by a great big whale named Blue. They get acquainted and the sailor hopes to continue their relationship. But one day he finds Blue sitting on the bottom of the ocean looking sick. His belly is full of plastic bags! The sailor gets rid of the bags and Blue feels much better. Now the two friends can enjoy the ocean together again. The author includes a note that suggests five simple ways children and families can protect sea life.
My Friend Earth (Chronicle Books, 2020). An interactive book with moveable parts, this beautiful story describes how Earth cares for animals and protects new seedlings, provides water through snow and rain, and admires all the world’s creatures. Author Patricia MacLachlan depicts earth as a Black woman tending the land through all four seasons. From when she awakens in the spring until she goes back to sleep in the winter, she is busy, busy, busy. Francesca Sanna’s illustrations make this book especially entertaining for young children.