Our planet is a beautiful, magical place. As our children move through their young lives at a different pace and with different eyes than we have as adults, they often remind us to notice all the small and special things. Whether it be a ladybug on their bedroom wall or the way leaves make shadows on the lawn, we get to appreciate Earth in a new way.
This book list is meant to open their world even further. Our planet is in danger for sure, but we believe that encouraging our children to love all that it is, as well as teaching them how to care for it, is perhaps the greatest step we can take to save it.
Click on the links or visit your library. These titles are sure to be a hit!
Wiggling Worms at Work
by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
The sweet book is great for toddlers, primary-aged children, and even younger elementary-aged children. It gives children a view underground and teaches them how worms contribute to creating healthy soil, which, in turn, nourishes plants. The text includes terminology that children will be interested to learn, and the paper cut out illustrations are perfect for this particular book!
The Great Kapok Tree
by Lynne Cherry
A man enters the rainforest with the intention of cutting down a large Kapok tree. Exhausted, he rests against its trunk and falls asleep. While he sleeps, he is visited by a range of rainforest inhabitants who whisper into his ear and give him a different view of this sacred place. He awakens a changed man and walks carefully out of the forest.
Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Wangari Maathai is an environmentalist we can all look up to. Her work with the women of Kenya led to the reforestation and revitalisation of a country and community. Proof that one person really can affect measurable change, this story of Maathai’s life is perfect for young children. The gorgeous illustrations add to the story’s appeal as well.
The Table Where Rich People Sit
by Byrd Baylor (Author), Peter Parnall (Illustrator)
Sometimes it’s hard for children to understand why their parents do the things they do. In The Table Where Rich People Sit, one child simply cannot understand why her parents aren’t willing to work a little harder to earn money that will pull them out of poverty. Throughout the course of the story, the child realises that perhaps there are different definitions of wealth, and that her family may be wealthy in the best possible way.
The Tree Lady
by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Kate Sessions grew up much like many children: fascinated by the world around her. Her love of trees carried on through adulthood, and when she found herself living in treeless San Diego, she decided to do something about it. Through careful research, hard work, and the support of her community, Kate managed to turn a desert town into a lush oasis.
I couldn’t possibly finish this blog post without mentioning one of my all time favourite books about our beautiful Earth – The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
It’s 50 years old (yes, half a century!) It can be read on many different levels but the prevailing theme is that of generosity, of what it means to be mortal and flawed and ultimately enlightened and wise.
Here at Forestville Montessori School the children are constantly in touch with the earth. Last week we harvested a bumper crop of sweet potatoes. Seeing the children digging in the garden beds and being at one with nature brings so much to their experiences. It reminded me of these words from Maria Montessori:
”The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.
An Egg is Quiet
by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
There are so many different types of eggs in the world! This book guides young readers through the quiet lives of eggs, with short, almost lyrical text that is accompanied by striking drawings and factual information. Whether your child is driven to learn about animals or they enjoy pretty picture books, An Egg is Quiet will be a new favourite.
A Seed is Sleepy
by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
Whether you choose to read the shortened or extended text on each page, this book will appeal to younger and older readers. Brought to you by the same author and illustrator as An Egg is Quiet, the two books stand out in that their words are written in cursive. This will be a welcome sight to young Montessori students!
Peterson Field Guides
Peterson Field Guides are an excellent resource for children in kindergarten and up. Brief descriptions, clear and colourful illustrations, and accurate, factual information appeal to the child’s desire to learn about living things. These books are widely available, and this site will give you an idea of the range of offerings. Whether your child is interested in birds or you’re planning a trip to the seashore, or if they are ready for more advanced text and would enjoy a colouring-book version, there is something for everyone.
We would love your feedback! Whether you read and enjoy any of these books as a family or have other environmental/conservationist titles to recommend, get in touch and let us know. You can leave a comment below.