Multicultural Children’s Books for Earth Day

22nd of April is Earth Day! The Earth Day movement continues to inspire people everywhere to take action towards saving our beautiful planet. Some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges remain global warming, air and water pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, waste disposal and the depletion of our natural resources. If we want to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet, we must teach our children environmental awareness and green habits from an early age, so they can “be the change”.

Color of Us

Here are some recommended books in the Southfield Public Library catalog with commentary by the article’s writer. If you don’t see a copy available, contact a librarian to place an item on hold for you!

We Planted a Tree
Preschool

Muldrow, Diane
“We planted a tree and it grew up, / While it reached for the sky and the sun.” Two young families in two very different parts of the world (New York City and an African village) plant a tree and watch it flourish. At the same time trees all over the world help clean the air, enrich the soil, and give fruit and shade. With simple poetic text and colourful digital illustrations, this is my favourite multicultural children’s book for Earth Day for preschoolers.
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Recycling Day
Preschool

Miller, Edward
On Recycling Day a group of volunteers clean up a trash-filled vacant lot and transform it into a community garden. As they sort plastic, glass, paper, and metal, little readers learn how each material can be recycled, including electronics, fabrics, books, and toys. With encouraging text, fun illustrations, informative diagrams and “Going Green” suggestions, Recycling Day is a great book for creating awareness about consumption, waste and recycling.
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All the World
Preschool

Scanlon, Liz Garton
“All the world is here. / It is there. / It is everywhere. /All the world is right where you are. /Now.” All The World follows the activities of a multiracial family (black dad, white mom) and their circle of friends from morning to night. From finding shells on the beach to the admiring the sunset sky, this gentle picture book shows loving family interactions and teaches appreciation for the smaller and bigger wonders of our planet. I just love the warm and cosy feel of this book!
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Wangari's Trees of Peace
Preschool

Winter, Jeanette
Wangari’s Trees of Peace tells the inspiring story of Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. When Wangari returns home from studying in the US, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down. She starts planting trees and soon inspires great change. The simple language and colourful illustrations make this a good introduction to environmentalism for preschoolers, although it also addresses the difficult subjects of violence and imprisonment.
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The EARTH Book
Preschool

Parr, Todd
“I take care of the earth because I know I can do little things every day to make a BIG difference…”. With Todd Parr’s signature mix of playfulness and sensitivity, The Earth Book gives children easy ideas how to look after our planet – from recycling to saving energy, from using both sides of the paper to planting a tree. Printed with recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks, the book also includes a poster with “going green” tips.
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The Great Kapok Tree
Preschool

Cherry, Lynne
In the Brazilian rain forest, a man exhausts himself trying to chop down a giant kapok tree. While he sleeps, the different inhabitants of the forest whisper in his ear, telling him about the importance of trees and how “all living things depend on one another”. The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest is a mythlike story with a gentle environmental message, complemented by lush, detailed watercolour illustrations.
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One Plastic Bag
Elementary School

Paul, Miranda
One Plastic Bag tells the inspiring story of Isatou Ceesay, the “Queen of Plastic Recycling of The Gambia”. Concerned about the amounts of plastic bags that were littering her village, Isatou started collecting them and crocheting them into purses. Her project became known internationally and brought environmental change as well as economic empowerment to the women in her community.
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A River Ran Wild
Elementary School

Cherry, Lynne
A River Ran Wild traces the ecological evolution of New England’s Nashua River in this story of restoration and renewal. Respected by generations of Native Americans, polluted in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, the river was restored through the combined efforts of modern-day descendants of the Nashua Indians and European settlers. The beautiful illustrations have intricately detailed borders that depict various historical artifacts.
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Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
Elementary School

Napoli, Donna Jo
Many wonderful children’s books have been written about Wangari Maathai but this gorgeous book is my absolute favourite! Nelson’s stunning oil paintings collaged with the textures and colours of Africa beautifully complement the artful prose in which Wangari’s story is told. Known as “Mama Miti”, Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has planted more than 30 million trees throughout Kenya.
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A Cool Drink of Water
Elementary School

Kerley, Barbara
“Everyone, everywhere enjoys a nice, cool drink of water.” With minimal text, A Cool Drink Of Water teaches children that water is basic to human life all over the globe. Stunning National Gepgrahic photos show how people in various cultures use and conserve. This beautiful book doesn’t address water pollution, it is purely a celebration of the world’s most vital resource.
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Trash Talk
Middle School

Mulder, Michelle
With our landfills overflowing, waste disposal is one of today’s biggest environmental challenges. Trash Talk provides a history of garbage – from Minoan trash pits to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – and shows some innovative ways waste is dealt with. With an upbeat tone and vibrant photographs, the book encourages children to think of creative solutions. Includes references to other resources, including movies and websites.
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One Well
Elementary School, Middle School

Strauss, Rochelle
All living things on Earth depend on water. Life would be impossible without it. But the water in our Earth’s well is threatened by our growing population and increased demands. What can we do to protect it? One Well tells the eye-opening story of water on Earth and teaches children how to protect our water.
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Be a Friend to Trees
Elementary School

Lauber, Patricia
Why should you be a friend to trees? Not only because “they’re nice to look at, nice to have around”, but because they are a valuable natural resource. Be A Friend To Trees explains how products are made from trees, how they are homes to a variety of animals, how they provide food for animals and people, and how they clean the air.
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Earth Dance
Elementary School

Ryder, Joanna
“Wiggle your shoulders/ and mountains tremble and quake./ Shake your hair and feel windswept grasses tickle your face.” Earthdance is a dynamic celebratory poem that invites children to become not just part of the earth, but Earth itself. With the most amazing stylized illustrations, the book delivers an environmental message in a playful and inspiring way.
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