I’ve always been committed to the environment. From a young age, I was interested in conservation, initiating recycling programs, and protecting at-risk species. Movies like Fern Gully and Free Willy had a big impact on me, as did Canadian TV show The Smoggies and The Body Shop’s endangered species campaign. Fun fact, my very first published piece was a 1992 advice column in my local paper, The Woodstock Sentinel Review.
Today there is a wide range of books that promote stewardship, environmental awareness, and a love of the earth in general. Here are just a few of those titles, featured on my April 24th kids’ book segment on CTV Your Morning. Watch the segment here, and read on below!
Picture Books (Ages 3-7)
My Ocean is Blue is about a child’s experience of the sea, described in opposites (my ocean is deep, my ocean is shallow, etc). The simple concept and bright, vivid paper-cut art make this a great book for the very young. One way to foster a love of the environment is through personal connection and experience, and this book really demonstrates that.
The Bug Girl is the true story of Canadian Sophia Spencer, who was bullied for her love of bugs but overcame it and shared her experience, which inspired the movement #BugsR4Girls. Sophia’s story is inspiring and relatable, and now that spring is around the corner, bugs are about to take centre stage again. Elise Gravel’s Disgusting Critters series is another must-read for bug-loving kids.
The Golden Glow is a hip, Wes Anderson-esque celebration of plant life and a great way to introduce the concept of conservation. Fox is in search of a rare flower called The Golden Glow, which takes him on a long hike. Along the way he meets friends, identifies other plants, and enjoys the world around him. For kids who are interested in plants and plant identification, I also recommend Plants in the Nature All Around series from KidsCanPress.
The Boreal Forest is a lushly illustrated non-fiction tribute to the world’s largest land-based biosphere, 29% of which is located in Canada. There is lots of information packed into this gorgeous large format book, which increases it’s appeal for older children as well. The accompanying artwork by Josee Bisaillon is gallery worthy.
Spur, a Wolf’s Story is told from perspective of a young wolf whose pack is being culled by humans. Sharing this story through a young wolf’s eyes helps foster empathy for endangered and threatened species. For more reading about wolves, I recommend Bringing Back the Wolves.
Music for Tigers is the latest middle grade novel by Canadian GG nominee Michelle Kadarusman and is just as tender and evocative as her previous work. Budding violinist Louisa is not looking forward to spending the summer in the Tasmanian bush with an uncle she’s never met, but then she learns about her family’s connection to a long considered extinct species. A moving story about connection to family, the earth, and animals.
In The Summer We Saved the Bees by Robin Stevenson, Wolf is well aware of the threats facing the bee population, but that doesn’t mean he’s looking forward to traveling across Canada in a canola-oil fueled van with his family raising awareness. This family story addresses the urgency and anxiety that can come with concern for the environment, and also makes readers aware that there are many ways to do your part.
One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet is an inspiring compilation of 20 profiles of people of colour from around the planet and what they are doing to save the earth. Topics covered include community gardening, oil spill clean-up, animal and habitat conservation and protecting Indigenous lands and culture, among others. This book does a great job demonstrating the concept of thinking globally by acting locally, and will remind kids that they can make a difference starting in their own communities.
What are some of your favourite books for Earth Day and beyond?