Each April, Earth Day sneaks up on me. Even though it’s not until April 22, somehow with the confluence of testing and spring break and being close to the end of the school year, I forget about it and then try to scramble to find a good picture book to read aloud for #ClassroomBookADay on, or on the school day nearest to, that date.
To help avoid that, I decided to create a list of picture books that relate to the environment, nature and our Earth so I could have them together. This year I am looking ahead! And hopefully helping you to be prepared with not only a book for this year’s Earth Day on April 22, but multiple options to help you bring in environmental and nature topics throughout your entire school year of #ClassroomBookADay read-alouds.
Between thinking about the impact on trees and animals during terrible wildfires in Australia and the western United States last summer, along with a road trip from Wisconsin to California to visit family during which I visited National Parks in Utah and South Dakota and saw firsthand the vastness of the scenery in the middle of the US and the majesty of some of the mountain ranges and viewpoints, I have been more aware of nature this year even while we primarily stayed safer at home. I wanted to bring some of that awareness into the read-alouds I have been choosing for my classes, because I often focus on the people and forget to bring a focus on aspects of nature beyond what we are used to in our own small areas where we live.
With a mix of fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid informational fiction picture books on this list, there are multiple ways to enter into conversations around conservation and habitat of this Earth we live on. And with a sampling of stories not only from the United States, but also showcasing activists around the world, these selections can help open the conversation about the global impact of the choices we make related to our environment, land, air, oceans, and consumables.
Some of these books relate stories about people who have been influential in environmental or earth sciences. Some of these books share stories for kid activists. Some of these books simply serve as a reminder to slow down, get outside, and appreciate nature and the outdoors. Some of these books will help students understand some of the biggest environmental issues facing our world now with climate change and the ozone layer and recycling and water conservation. Some of these books will show students that though they are young, they can already start to have a big impact by being informed and speaking up. Because who knows...maybe one of the kids sitting in your classroom today will become the scientist to solve some of these concerns for our Earth in the future.
Browse the book list on Titlewave(it's free to sign up for an account if you don't already have one).
Jillian Heise, NBCT and MLIS, is currently a K-5 Library Media Teacher in southeastern Wisconsin. She previously taught Grades 7 and 8 ELA in the Milwaukee area for 11 years. Jillian is the founder of #classroombookaday and dedicated to supporting all student identities and lived experiences through access to inclusive literature. She brings her literacy expertise and knowledge of kidlit to her role as Chair of the USRA Children's Literature Committee. You can find Jillian online at Heise Reads & Recommends and @heisereads.
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