Celebrate Earth Day With These Books and Activities!

As we all celebrate Earth Day today, I wanted to share a few books that are perfectly paired with activities to bring some fun to everyone’s Earth Day celebrations.

Big Ideas For Little Environmentalists Series by Maureen McQuerry, Illustrated by Robin Rosenthal

Up first is a fantastic new board book series from Putnam Books For Young Readers called Big Ideas For Little Environmentalists. Perfect for fans of the Baby Scientist series, the BabyLit series, and the Feminist Baby series, Big Ideas For Little Environmentalists encourages small children to make a big impact. The series includes four titles written by Maureen McQuerry and illustrated by Robin Rosenthal, each highlighting a real life environmentalist and the impacts they made.

Inspired by each of the iconic environmentalists covered in the BIG IDEAS series, here are four Earth Day Activities from Maureen perfect for every Little Environmentalist!

Explore an All-Senses Scavenger Hunt with Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold’s childhood love for nature led to a life dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment, encouraging others to appreciate nature with all senses and without harmful activity.

Create an Earth Day bingo card with written prompts of things for your child to find around the neighborhood. When they find something that fits a description, have them draw a picture in the correct box. Make sure to include all senses, encouraging your child to touch, smell, see, and listen to the world around them. For example: find something that feels rough; find three things that are blue; identify an animal by its sound; describe three different scents from nature. Decide on a reward for completing the scavenger hunt.

Make a Nesting Ball with Rachel Carson

Some of Rachel Carson’s earliest observations of nature were of the birds in her yard. In the spring, birds look for material to build their nests.

For this activity, find a kitchen whisk and a piece of string or yarn to hang it from a tree. With your child, fill the wires in the whisk with sticks, leaves, moss, pet hair, and small strips of string, cotton fabric, or yarn. Hang it where birds can find it. Then watch and see which birds come. What do they look like? What materials do they like best? Draw a picture or tell a story about the birds that visit.

Plant a Seed of Hope with Wangari Maathai:

Realizing trees are important for the health of the land and all who live on it, Wangari Maathai worked to plant millions of trees to make the land healthy again.

To watch how seeds grow, you’ll need a small sealable plastic bag, some dry beans, tape, and a damp paper towel. Soak the beans in water overnight to get them ready to grow. The next day, dampen a paper towel, fold it, and place it in the bag. Add a few beans and seal the bag. Then tape it to a window that gets plenty of light. In three days to a week, the seed should split and begin to sprout. Every day the seed will grow and change. Soon there will be leaf buds and it will be time to plant it in the ground or in a flowerpot! Encourage your child to draw and journal changes in the plant and share with friends.

Build a Wonder Box with Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall taught others how to enjoy nature while also making sure the homes of animals aren’t suffering, saying “A naturalist looks for the wonder of nature.”

To create your child’s Wonder Box, find a box to hold small treasures, and decorate or label it with your child. Then, take a walk around your neighborhood, guiding your child to collect five special things; a feather, rock, piece of bark, flower petal, seed, etc. For objects that are too big or fragile to collect (a spiderweb, sunset, mountain peak), draw pictures or snap photos to put in the box. Continue to add to your child’s Wonder Box with each new nature adventure!

Apple and Magnolia by Laura Gehl, Illustrated by Patricia Metola

The second title I want to share is a beautiful picture book that celebrates unlikely friendships, and introduces young readers to the fact that trees can communicate with one another. Apple and Magnolia by Laura Gehl and Patricia Metola follows a young girl named Britta and her two favorite trees, Apple and Magnolia. I won’t spoil the story on this one, so I’ll just say Britta notices Magnolia’s branches drooping one day so she comes up with a creative way for Apple to help Magnolia make it through the winter.

The publisher, Flyaway Books, has kindly provided a free discussion and activity guide on their website with more information about tree communication. Flyaway Books and Laura Gehl have also provided this entertaining storytime for young readers to enjoy for Earth Day.

You can learn more about Laura Gehl and her other work by visiting her website lauragehl.com.

One Little Lot: The 1-2-3s of an Urban Garden by Diane C. Mullen, Illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Last but certainly not least is One Little Lot: The 1-2-3s of an Urban Garden by Diane C. Mullen and Oriol Vidal. This sweet counting book chronicles the transformation of an empty lot in an urban neighborhood as it becomes a beautiful community garden. Loosely based on the author’s experiences with her neighbors and their community garden in Minneapolis, One Little Lot celebrates community and the way we can come together and care for nature, even in a bustling city.

The backmatter contains an Author’s Note with information about honeybees and the ways they help plants grow, breed, and produce food. You can also visit Charlesbridge’s website at charlesbridge.com for a free activity kit including a discussion guide and four unique activities.

What activities are you taking part in for your Earth Day celebrations? Be sure to share in the comments below!

As for me and mine, we will be attending a local plant sale to support Teacher Appreciation Day at a school in our neighborhood. My little one got a cute gardening set as an Easter present last weekend, and we will be putting it to good use in the backyard of our new home.

However you choose to spend Earth Day, I hope you have a good one!

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Zonia’s Rain Forest

I’m so excited to share Zonia’s Rain Forest with you all today! From Caldecott Honor and Robert F. Sibert Medal winner Juana Martinez-Neal, this lovely picture book follows a young girl named Zonia who lives in the rain forest with her family.

We follow Zonia through her day as she introduces us to her neighborhood. Zonia adventures through the rain forest, making friends with all of her animal neighbors. We see how she interacts with sloths, snakes, pink dolphins, and more, until she comes upon something she has never seen before. Zonia discovers a portion of the rain forest has been cut down, and her beloved home is in danger.

While this book is fiction, Zonia’s story mirrors the true story of the Asháninka people living in the Peruvian Amazon, who have a long history of being removed from their homeland. The Asháninka people have made it their mission to protect the rain forest they call home through activism and legal action, though their rights to that home continue to be denied.

The perfect pick for Earth Day next month, Zonia’s Rain Forest is a gentle reminder to young readers about the ways our rain forests need our protection. With a hopeful ending, this book will inspire children to protect the rain forest and the rest of our planet.

Fans of Juana Martinez-Neal’s previous titles like Fry Bread and Swashby and The Sea will be happy to see her familiar style in the illustrations. I absolutely adored the way they capture Zonia’s playful personality as she interacts with her friends in the rain forest.

The back matter contains quite a bit of additional information about the Asháninka people, the Amazon, and the threats that they face. There is also a page dedicated to identifying each of the animals featured in Zonia’s adventure.

Zonia’s Rain Forest is officially available next week (March 30, 2021), but you can preorder it wherever books are sold today, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

To learn more about Juana Martinez-Neal and her award-winning work, please visit her website at juanamartinezneal.com.

I also want to thank Candlewick Press for generously providing me with a review copy of this amazing book. I’m so grateful to have the privilege of sharing Zonia’s story with everyone today.

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