Our children are the leaders of tomorrow. Whether they grow up to be politicians, lawyers, doctors, farmers, or bakers, all will be making a giant impact on the world,(whether or not they do it through their profession). Every day every person is making an impact, be it positive or negative. Of course, we all want our children to grown up into self-sufficient, responsible, and happy adults. Besides setting a good example for our children by living and ingraining an eco-friendly lifestyle into the home, reading to children on a daily basis is not only good for their development and building positive relationships, but the stories can also teach them about the world and how to be kind to it and its inhabitants.
Teaching our children to be environmentally conscious now will help them, as well as the planet, in the long run. The last thing that children like to sit through is long lectures from parents about why something is good and why something is bad. Every parent knows that there is a time and place for those sorts of talks, but when it comes to teaching children healthy and good habits, parents might as well do this in a fun and interactive way through getting out in nature with their kids and reading a good book.
So you know, get out there! Go to the library or used book store today with the kids and find some exciting reads for them! Want to make your experience even better? Take those environmentally themed books, grab a blanket, and have the whole family head outside for story time. I’ve compiled a list of my son’s top ten favorite children’s books that have nature and environment inspired themes. If you don’t know where to start, check out these titles.
1. Gardening with Children by Monika Hannemann, Patricia Hulse, Brian Johnson, Barbara Kurland, and Tracey Patterson
This is an extraordinary resource for parents. It isn’t quite a children’s book, (since it is more of a manual that is loaded with kid-friendly arts & crafts activities, teaches the importance and how to garden, about wild animals, composting, recycling, and more! It is pretty much a living book that children and parents can look through together and create, discover, and explore nature, all while learning how to be kind to the environment
2. If I Ran the Rainforest by Bonnie Worth
This book does a wonderful job explaining about the rainforest’s climate, inhabitants, plant-life, and why it is an important and should be protected. The book even has a glossary in the back of the book to define important vocabulary. To make the book even more interesting, the book is a part of The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, which will have the kids rhyming about the rainforest all day!
3. Eco Babies Wear Green by Michelle Sinclair Colman
This is a fun little board book for younger toddlers that goes through all of the fun things that eco babies do, such as wear cloth diapers, compost, recycle, turn off lights, and more. This is one that we always read before bedtime because it makes my son clap and giggle, which is always makes a good end to every day.
4. Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action by Ruby Roth
This children’s book is not only wonderfully illustrated by its author, but also done in a way that is age appropriate and truthful all at the same time about where our food comes from, including hygiene products and how our food consumption effects the environment. It hits on topics, such as animal testing, animals used for entertainment, oceans, global warming, animals used for food, why eating organic is good, and what kids of all ages can do to help the environment and the animals that live here. It is truly an eye opener and must read for adults, as well as children.
5. Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals
This fabulous book gives children, as well as their parents, answers to common environmental questions and simple ideas and ways they can help the planet, (even start their own compost pile!). How do we get started composting or getting involved in helping the planet? Pick up this book of course and get started with having fun!
6. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This book is so special words can’t even describe. A person can interpret Silverstein’s rhymes in this book various ways. Children will be consumed in the story and rhymes, but to parents, it could be interpreted as a son’s relationship with his mother growing up and/or it can also be seen as what can happen when man uses up Mother Nature’s resources. In the end, she has nothing left to give.
7. A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston
This book is lovely with its whimsical and beautiful illustrations. It also draws parents and their children in with its information and takes children on a journey into the world of seeds to see how seeds grow into plants and how seeds hold magic of their own.
8. Don’t Throw That Away! By Laura Bergen
Even at the ripe age of one, my son loves flap books. This interactive book is great for children and really shows them how every day trash can turn into treasure. This wonderful book follows a recycling/upcycling superhero and shows kids everywhere that trash can be turned into something great.
9. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Despite Dr. Seuss writing this iconic tale over 40 years ago, the environmental message stands today more than ever: people need to protect the environment and stop those who want to destroy and profit from it. Children will love the illustrations, the rhyming, but mostly the whole package.
10. The Tree by Dana Lyons
I believe this book is the absolute coolest! Written from an 800 year old tree’s perspective, he contemplates all of the things he has seen in the natural world over his lifetime. Look out! A bulldozer is coming his way! Will people step up and save the tree before he’s destroyed? Read and find out! This book teaches kids how important it is to preserve nature.
**This article was also featured and published in Planting Seeds in South Carolina magazine. Besides following Elephant Mum, please check out the magazine’s site for more sustainable tips, tricks, and interviews!