Fantastic Fiction for Kids – Earth Day

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Today’s Fantastic Fiction for Kids comes from Andi who writes about sewing, gardening and cooking amongst other delights at Laundry on the Line. You may remember that Andi has already contributed to Fantastic Fiction for Kids, with this great list of books about sewing. Today, however, she’s come up with a wonderful selection of books to help us celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment, and is held annually on April 22. Although it originated in the US, it’s now celebrated in many places across the globe. And to help you get involved with your kids, here’s Andi’s selection of exciting books and her reviews of them:

The Lorax by Dr. Suess

I consider this to be the classic environmental education fiction story and have read it to countless numbers of children of varying ages and all have found something that they like about it (would you expect anything else from Dr. Suess?) The story of the Lorax is told by the Once-ler, an unknown creature who lives in an old boarded-up house in the middle of a barren land. The story is about a beautiful landscape that is threatened when someone decides to use the tufts of the beautiful Truffula trees to make Thneeds (something that everyone needs) and the Lorax who “speaks for the trees” tries to stop the destruction of the forest and ponds and fields of his beautiful land. It is full of the rhyme typical of Suess books, and although the land is decimated at the hands of the Thneed creator, the last page is one of hope.

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

This story takes place in the rain forest, where the great Kapok trees rise high into the sky. The story is of a man who enters the forest with his axe, ready to cut down one of the giant trees. He soon grows tired, and is lulled to sleep by the heat of the forest. While he sleeps, the animals of the rainforest appear one by one and whisper in his ear, asking him to save their home. It is wonderfully illustrated with the bright plants and animals of the rainforest coming alive on each page.

The Tree by Dana Lyons Illustrated by David Danioth

Another rhyming story, although it is not the words I love in this book but the illustrations which are absolutely stunning. The story is the simple tale of an ancient tree that has seen many natural wonders over its 800 years of life, and is now seeing the destruction of the forest around it. The tree is saved from a similar fate by a group of children who encircle its trunk, holding hands. The story is extremely simple, but my students are always captivated by the pictures, by the stark nakedness of the clear-cut landscape contrasted against the lush green standing forest.

The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

This book takes a much more light-hearted view of the impact of cutting trees for paper. The story is of a group of animals who live in a forest and pieces of their trees keep going missing. The animals set out as detectives to try and figure out who is stealing their trees. The reader already realizes through the illustrations that it is a bear using the trees to make paper in order to practice making paper airplanes for a contest. He is very sneaky and it takes quite a while for the animals to discover their culprit. The illustrations and speech bubbles make me smile, as does the “instructions” for making airplanes at the front and back of the book. A great follow-up to reading this book would be making your own paper airplanes (on recycled paper, of course!)

Zebo and the Dirty Planet by Kim Fernandes

Two children spot a little man from another planet taking some of the Earth’s creatures into his spaceship and hop aboard the ship to see if they can discover why. They find out that Zebo is removing the animals because they are at risk of dying out on our dirty planet. The children return to Earth determined to help set things right. This is another book with fantastic illustrations – the clay pictures give them a 3-D feel.

Some books I [Zoe] have reviewed that could be enjoyed alongside Andi’s selection are reviewed here (Michael Foreman’s Dinosaurs and all that rubbish) and here (Charlotte Middleton’s Christopher Nibble). Some recently reviewed books that would also work for Earth Day on other great book blogs include:

  • Garbage Helps our Garden Grown, reviewed at Wild About Nature, also reviewed here by Simply Science.
  • George and Flora’s Secret Garden, about kids growing their own food, reviewed at Tidy Books
  • 5 books all about Earth Day from Anastasia at 5 Great Books

  • And now some music to enjoy on Earth Day:

  • Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
  • Don’t go near the water by The Beach Boys
  • Earth Song by Michael Jackson (not really my thing, but maybe Jackson does it for you…)
  • Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) by Marvin Gaye
  • The Three Rs by Scott Paterson – Reduce, reuse and recycle in a manner that is slightly less annoying than Bob the Builder!
  • Three Rs for Ours by Recess Monkey is, in my opinion, a better variant on the reduce, reuse, recycle theme
  • Climate Change Rap by Recycleman and the Dumpster Divers
  • There Is No Away by Uncle Rock (Review from Zooglobble here)
  • The album Music for a Green Planet by Hayes Greenfield (Review from Zooglobble here)
  • If you want more music on an environmental theme I encourage you to check out the Earth Songs Home Page, where you’ll find “a collection of environmental songs (ecology music), albums, and songbooks with lyrics that promote the love and protection of the Earth, and links to related resources.

    Photo: mindfulness

    As for activities, Andi writes “There are many activities that can be done on Earth Day to celebrate, but if you are looking for activities to involve children year-round in discovering and appreciating the natural world I really love Teaching Kids to Love the Earth by Marina Lacheki, and her second book More Teaching Kids to Love the Earth. Marina shares her activities in narrative form, giving you the sense of joining in on an activity or expedition and it always leaves me excited about leading children in similar experiences!”

    The books Andi recommends sound lovely, and if you do order them, here are some other activities / resources you could go to whilst waiting for your book(s) to arrive:

  • Plenty of crafts using recycled goods rounded up by The Crafty Crow
  • The Woodland Trust’s Nature Detective site is one of my favourite for activities with my children – highly recommended 🙂
  • Some tips from Nurture Store about about how you can make sure your play with your kids is environmentally friendly.

  • Thankyou Andi! A thoughtful and timely selection of books, I’m sure you’ll all agree. I hope you’ll have the time to visit Andi at Laundry on the Line. Some of her recent posts that I’ve enjoyed include this one which features Boiled Calf’s Feet (!) and this one about her school’s new preschool classroom.

    9 Responses

    1. AZ

      Great recommendations! Those clay pictures are especially intriguing.

      (P.S. thanks for your illustration question on our blog… Wanted to let you know I answered it with a follow up comment)

      – All best!

    2. Choxbox

      great recos – as usual 🙂

      Am doing one myself at Saffron Tree tomorrow, will put thelink here.

      And adding to your list – george Saves the World by Lunchtime by Jo Readman.

      A related book by the same author – The World Came to my Place Today, it is a sort of prequel to the book above. It is inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall and here’s the link:

      Both are much-loved in these parts 🙂

      • Zoe

        Thanks for the suggestions Choxbox! I hope the typos meant you were doing something exciting at the same time as commenting… perhaps walking a high wire? 🙂

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