Picture Books to Celebrate Earth Day

Spring is here! Grass is growing, flowers are blooming, and animals and insects are frolicking about. It’s as if our Earth is finally waking up from its long winter nap. As you and your little ones enjoy this time of renewal and growth, remember that Earth Day is on April 22. Celebrate this special day by checking out the following picture books and let these gentle stories of recycling, conservation, and planting inspire you the whole year through!


Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals, illustrated by Ashley Wolff (Ages 4-8)

Your little “environmental chef” will be delighted to learn how certain recycled waste products can be used to make a batch of dark and rich Earth-friendly compost. In this alphabet book, each letter of the alphabet represents a different “ingredient” in the compost stew. Of course, the recipe must include the conventional elements of coffee grounds and eggshells, but how about spicing things up a bit by stirring in some laundry lint and hair snippings? Creative collage illustrations made from recycled paper, as well as a reminder about items that should not be put into the compost stew, help to make this alphabet book as fun as it is educational!


We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Bob Staake (Ages 4-8)

Two young families living in different parts of the world each plant a tree and as their trees grow and develop over the years, so do the two families. Told through heart touching verse, this book beautifully illustrates to young children the concept of how things grow and change over time while also pointing out all the wonderful benefits that trees bring into our lives. Trees are beautiful and provide shade for people and shelter for animals, but did you know they also help improve soil quality so that people can grow their own food and eat better? After you read this book, don’t be surprised if your child wants to go right out and plant a tree of their very own!


One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Ages 5-9)

In young Isatou’s Gambian village, plastic bags are dropped on the ground and forgotten. Over time the bags accumulate and as Isatou grows up she realizes how much they are hurting the environment and the animals in her village. With the help of other village women, Isatou is inspired to recycle the bags into beautiful purses and a recycling movement is born. Based on actual events and depicted through beautiful illustrations, Isatou Ceesay’s story is a great example of how upcycling unwanted items can be fun, useful, and helpful for our environment.


The Earth Book written and illustrated by Todd Parr (Ages 4-8)

Bright and whimsical illustrations will have your little one smiling along with Parr’s multi-colored characters as they learn about the small things they can do daily that have a big impact on keeping our Earth healthy. Appreciation for Earth-friendly activities like conservation and recycling are made relatable to young children through suggestions like not wasting water by turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth, or using both sides of the paper to save trees. The positive and encouraging tone of this book is sure to inspire even the youngest of children to do their part each day to help keep our Earth clean and healthy.

Tracy Pierce is the Teen Librarian at Beatties Ford Road Regional Library with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.