Earth Day Books to Read and Discuss

by Lara Neel, Trade Marketing Manager

Is the Earth better off without us? If you’re checking your calendar to see that April 22, 2020 is Earth Day, these books might help start or continue conversations about conservation.

If We Were Gone: Imagining the World without People

Coming Soon! This book will be released in March 2020.

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 4

Is the Earth better off without us? In If We Were Gone, author John Coy and illustrator Natalie Capannelli explore some answers to that question.

Without people on earth, there would be:

  • less pollution
  • more plants
  • cleaner water

They also invite the reader to consider how they can make changes to help.

“Think about the many decisions you make each day. What do you buy? Where does it come from? How is it made? What do you reuse, recycle, or throw away? These individual decisions add up and have a substantial impact on life on the planet.”

Series: Go Green with Sesame Street®

©2020 Sesame Workshop®, Sesame Street®, and associated characters, trademarks, and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.

Interest Level: Preschool – Grade 2

This fun introduction to the basics of caring for our planet arrives just in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020. From conserving energy and water or fighting litter and pollution to the history of Earth Day, each book offers simple ways to care for the earth, with fun asides and commentary from your friends on Sesame Street.

Beastly Biomes


Interest Level: Grade 2 – Grade 5

What kinds of animals live in the different environments Earth supports? This book shows how animals, birds, and fish all have a distinctive place to thrive, creating homes in unexpected places.

I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon


Interest Level: Grade 2 – Grade 5

Discover the true story of how environmentalist Farmer Tantoh is transforming the landscape in his home country of Cameroon.

When Tantoh Nforba was a child, his fellow students mocked him for his interest in gardening. Today he’s an environmental hero, bringing clean water and bountiful gardens to the central African nation of Cameroon. Authors Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul share Farmer Tantoh’s inspiring story.

Climate Change and Life on Earth


Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 5

Animals and plants all over the world are struggling to survive. Their food supply is decreasing, and their habitats are shrinking. Is climate change to blame? Discover how climate change affects all Earth’s living creatures. Find out what scientists are doing to save plant and animal species, and learn more about how you can help.

My River: Cleaning up the LaHave River


Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 6

Stella Bowles was in sixth grade when she became an environmental activist to campaign against sewage draining into the LaHave River. In this book, she tells the inspirational story of how her science fair project caught the eyes of the media, the public and government leaders, propelling her into the limelight.

Stella’s two and a half year fight resulted in raising $15.7 million to clean up the river and numerous awards for environmental activism. Today she continues to campaign for cleaner water and teaches other children how to test water quality in their own backyards and how to take action if it is polluted.

Stella’s story will motivate readers to engage in local environmental activism and demonstrates that doing what’s right has no age barriers.

Earth Day and the Environmental Movement: Standing Up for Earth

Coming Soon! This book will be released in March 2020.

Interest Level: Grade 8 – Grade 12

On April 22, 1970, an estimated twenty million people held in a teach-in to show their support for environmental protections. This new celebration, Earth Day, brought together previously fragmented issues under the same banner. It was the largest nationwide event ever, and lawmakers took notice.

But one day didn’t change everything. Fifty years after the first Earth Day, climate change remains a dire concern. The divide between political parties continues to widen, and environmental policy has become an increasingly partisan issue. The spread of disinformation has also made climate change a debatable idea, rather than scientific fact. A new generation of advocates continue the fight to make environmental policy a top priority for the United States and for nations around the globe.

“Our goal is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all human beings and all other living creatures . . . Our goal is a decent environment in its broadest, deepest sense.”—Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day founder

“[T]he potential consequences are certainly major in their impact on mankind. Now is the time. The research is clear. It is up to us now to summon the political will.”—Robert Walker, US Representative from Pennsylvania

“There’s always a perception that business and industry and conservation groups . . . don’t agree on anything. . . . [W]e can come together to demonstrate that we might be looking at it from different sides, but the outcome is the same.”—Doug Miell, consultant, Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Forest Talk: How Trees Communicate

Interest Level: Grade 8 – Grade 12

Trees are essential. They provide water, shelter, and food for millions of plant and animal species, including humans. They deliver proven health benefits, and they capture and store carbon, which combats climate change. Yet trees are in trouble. Forests are struggling to adapt to climate change, and deforestation is a major threat.

Recently, researchers and citizen scientists made the surprising revelation that trees communicate with each other through an underground system of soil fungi and other methods. Complex social networks help trees survive and thrive by transferring resources to each other, sending defense signals, communicating with their kin, and more. Meet the tree scientists and learn more of their fascinating discoveries.

Living Simply: A Teen Guide to Minimalism


Interest Level: Grade 8 – Grade 12

Twenty-first-century minimalism is an increasingly mainstream response to global environmental crises such as climate change, the garbage glut, fast fashion, and other manifestations of the harmful impact of consumerism. Originally founded in the art world in the decades after World War II, minimalism has evolved into an Earth-friendly lifestyle focusing on the three Rs (reducing, recycling, and reusing) and on simplifying individual needs to reduce one’s carbon imprint, manage anxiety and depression, and prioritize human interaction over the impulse to acquire for the sake of acquisition. Hands-on activities, how-to tips, and profiles of practicing minimalists offer real-world examples for incorporating minimalism into your life.

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