Earth Day Reads for All Ages

Earth Day, which falls on April 22nd this year, is just around the corner. So for this month's Shelf Help, we've taken a moment to compile a list of great green reads for all ages. Please comment below with titles we've missed!

Ages 2 to 4:


The Earth Book by Todd Parr
With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitiviy, Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book. Printed entirely with recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks, this book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good - from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper, to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways.


Watersong by Tim McCanna (author) and Richard Smythe (illustrator)
In glorious onomatopoeia, Tim McCanna leads his reader on a dazzling journey as a fox seeks shelter from a rainstorm. Both a visual feast and a joy to read aloud, this stunning picture book showcases the power and beauty of nature. The illustrations and onomatopoeia will keep the youngest readers entertained, while the climactic build of the fox's frantic flight through the rainstorm will have older readers on the edge of their seats.


Ages 4 to 8:


All the World by Liz Scanton (author) and Marla Frazee (illustrator) 
Transpiring over the course of day, All the World tracks a group of family and friends as they pause to discover and appreciate beauty and wonder in the world, from the smallest human acts of tenderness to the greatest natural phenomena. This is a great aid to get students in the habit of appreciating nature in all its forms.


Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner (author) and Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator)
In this gorgeous companion to the acclaimed Over and Under the Snow and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal bring to life a secret underwater world. In this book, readers will discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. Over the pond, the water is a mirror, reflecting the sky. But under the pond is a hidden world of minnows darting, beavers diving, tadpoles growing. 


When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano (author) and Julie Morstad (illustrator)
Flowers blooming in sheets of snow make way for happy frogs dancing in the rain. Summer swims move over for autumn sweaters until the snow comes back again. In Julie Fogliano's skilled hand and illustrated by Julie Morstad's charming pictures, the seasons come to life in this gorgeous and comprehensive book of poetry, which offers a educators an opportunity to integrate poetry month and Earth Day in one spellbinding read.


Ages 8 to 12:


The End of the Wild by Nicole Helget
Eleven-year-old Fern's rundown home borders a pristine forest, where her impoverished family hunts and forages for food. It's also her refuge from the crushing responsibility of caring for her wild younger brothers and PTSD-stricken stepfather. But when a fracking company rolls into town, Fern realizes that her special grove could be ripped away, and no one else seems to care. Her stepfather thinks a job with the frackers could help pull the family out of poverty. Her wealthy grandfather--who wants to take custody of Fern and her brothers--likes the business it brings to his manufacturing company. Author Nicole Helget deftly tackles the complexities of environmental justice, synthesizing them into the life of one plucky protagonist.


Who Was Rachel Carson by Sarah Fabiny and Who Is Jane Goodall by Roberta Edwards
Penguin has put together an indispensable series of nonfiction books that introduce middle grade readers to important historical and contemporary movers and shakers. For Earth Day, consider sharing Who Was Rachel Carson or Who Is Jane Goodall with your students. 


Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Roy is far from thrilled about his parents' decision to relocate the family to an unfamiliar new home in Florida, where he must make new friends, learn the ropes at a new school, and face off against new bullies. But had they not moved, Roy would have never met a mysterious boy who lives off the land and doesn't wear shoes. He wouldn't have discovered a colony of owls nesting under land slated to become a pancake house. And, perhaps, he never would have accidentally become an environmental vigilante. . . Appropriate for both advanced middle grade readers and early young adult readers, Hoot offers a rollicking adventure, interwoven with tidbits of environmental wisdom.


Ages 12 and up:


The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man first discovered fire. But, as Michael Pollan explains in this book, how we answer it now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species. Since its publication in 2006, The Omnivore's Dilemma has changed the way Americans think about the perils and pleasures of eating, unpacking the moral, political, and ethical choices thinly hidden in every decision we make about dinner.


Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.


This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, urges readers to reassess everything they know about global warming, arguing that climate change has far less to do with carbon than with capitalism. Klein articulates how free markets are incompatible with the drastic changes needed to curb humans' contribution to climate change, and urges her readers to weigh the benefits of an unregulated economy against the costs of continued climate change; who will emerge enriched and who will emerge impoverished? Contentious and consequential, This Changes Everything is recommended to educators with considerable autonomy and a classroom filled with critical readers.


For additional resources, consider checking in with the Earth Day Network and comment with helpful inspiration, activities, ideas, and organizations below!