Children’s books with eco-storylines.
Reading plays a huge role in how kids learn about the world. Rivka Kawano, who runs Beautiful Books (beautifulbooks.posterous.com), a review website for preschool-age children's books, says that in recent years she has seen more stories with overtly green subject matter, like recycling or preserving the rain forest. However she also sees many others that “realize the underlying values that lead to a green lifestyle,” like Peter Brown’s The Curious Garden, in which a boy named Liam transforms his dreary gray town by planting green gardens throughout.
“The books that capture people's minds and hearts, both kids and adults, are ones that are narrative,” says Rivka. She also points to classic children’s stories like Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” and Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings” that espoused “green” values long before that term came into existence.
“But really, almost any book that deals with animals or nature in some way can be put into a ‘green’ light for kids,” says Rivka. “’The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett draws a picture of how personal rejuvenation and rejuvenation of the earth are linked. And even a simple picture book such as ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle can serve as a jumping off point to talk about animal habitat.”
Here are a few favorites, both new and old, that combine green messages with an engaging story.
“The Gardener” by Sarah Stewart and David Small
Another story of a young gardener’s ability to improve our world, featuring a girl sent to live with her uncle during the throes of the Depression. She brightens up her uncle’s bakery, and even his grim demeanor, by growing flowers.
“The Butterfly’s Treasure” by Schim Schimmel
Author Schim Schimmel is known for his gorgeous illustrations that help children grasp the splendor of our planet, and the importance of respecting and preserving all this beauty.
“Picnic Farm” by Christine Morton
This British tale follows a boy and girl on a tour of a farm that culminates with a picnic featuring milk, butter, bread, eggs, fruit—even a wool blanket all produced from the animals the duo just met. It’s a friendly way to get kids thinking about the origins of their food.
“The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
This cautionary tale of clear-cutting and rampant polluting was published in 1971 but rings just as true today. And Seuss’s trademark rhyming and alliterative wordplay makes this a lively lesson in conservation.
“Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green,” edited by Dan Gutman
Slightly older kids can appreciate this collection of essays from the likes of Lois Lowry and Caroline B. Cooney, each one highlighting a green action, big or small, the writer took, from using a clothesline to composting.
Did you know?
Groups like Eco-Libris ask readers to offset the paper consumed to make books by planting a tree for every book they read.
Amazon.com recently reported selling more e-books than paperbacks or hardbacks.