Non-fiction books on Earth Day that don’t read like a documentary are somewhat hard to find. Let’s Celebrate Earth Day is one of the best that I’ve found.
It does have a lot of text. This is a book for kids who can sit still and pay attention for 15 minutes or so. Fortunately, it does have some very appealing artwork, which helps if you remember to take the time to let the child explore the illustrations.
Be sure you take time to read the selection of quotes inside the front and back covers. They’re aimed at adults, not kids, but they’re well chosen. I was impressed at the variety of speakers – Chief Seattle, the Bible, Rachel Carson, and Dr. Seuss, among others.
The book is arranged in a series of two-page spreads. The left page is a short (2-3 paragraph) on an environmental subject, and the right page offers riddles, project ideas, or factoids about the topic. The factoids are a good opportunity to practice critical thinking with your child – ask “What does that mean?” For example, one says,
Each day thousands of trees in America are cut down
Well, yes, that is factually accurate, but there’s no context provided. What does it mean to the child? You can talk about all the useful things made from the trees, or the jobs provided. Even better, you can talk about reforestration – how the companies that cut the trees also replant new trees to grow (Did you know that young, growing trees are better at removing carbon from the air than old trees? In some ways, cutting and planting is GOOD for the environment!)
I especially liked the fact that Let’s Celebrate Earth Day makes an attempt at showing that “tree-hugging, animal-loving” environmental sentimentalism isn’t scientifically sound. Two of the topics covered are “Should we protect every plant and animal?” (the answer is no) and “Are forest fires good or bad?”.
There are a couple of simple experiments at the end of the book that are easy for a child to do. My favorite is a model of the greenhouse effect, using a car with the windows up on a sunny day – clever!
Let’s Celebrate Earth Day is not a fast read, and will probably need several readings for your child to fully grasp, but well worth your time.
Available on Amazon
Let’s Celebrate Earth Day by Connie and Peter Roop, illustrated by Gwen Connelly. Millbrook Press, 2001.