Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of Read Across America Day, a special day organized by the National Education Association (www.nea.org) dedicated to building a nation of readers. March 2nd is also Dr. Seuss’ birthday, making it the perfect day to pick up and read a book with your child. Here’s a list of several environmentally friendly books that you can enjoy with youngsters’ year-round. No need to wait for Earth Day.
• The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss: Read Across America Day would not be complete without a Dr. Seuss book! The Lorax reminds us that, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." A classic ecological fable, this story recounts the far-reaching effects we can have on the environment. Follow the Lorax as he fights for the hungry Brown Bar-ba-loots, colorful Truffula Trees, and other forest creatures. After reading the book watch the full-length animated movie, which was released in 2012, and discuss the differences in the story line.
• EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Hen, by Judy Sierra: Updating the classic nursery rhyme the author of this entertaining book demonstrates how Old MacDonald turned his urban backyard into a farm with raised garden beds and an organic farmers’ market. This is a great book for budding gardeners, and those who want to know where their food comes from. The plant life cycle, and sustainable gardening practices are discussed in an easy to understand level appropriate for lower elementary aged children.
• Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth, by Mary McKenna Siddals: If you’re curious about composting, or just want to know what ingredients should go into the pile, begin by reading this book illustrated with collages made from recycled materials by Ashley Wolff. From egg shells to wriggly worms this book is a recipe for making nourishing compost at home.
• Mr. King's Things, by Geneviève Côté: What happens when you buy lots of stuff, get tired of it, and then throw it out? Find out in the story of Mr. King, a crown wearing cat who like new things – lots of them! The effects of overconsumption and pollution are illustrated in this charming book that proves that recycling and reusing, and even consuming less, are better than putting things in a landfill.
• Rascal & Shady Recycle and Reuse, by Beth Starr: In this book illustrated by James Balkovek, children will learn that litter (trash in the wrong place) remains in the environment long after they toss it out. Two curious raccoons, Rascal and Shady, soon realize that people are dropping things in the woods that don’t belong there. After picking up lots of trash, or people droppings, it proves to be too much for them to handle alone so they invite their friends to launch a recycling center.
• We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers, by Lauren Child: Charlie helps his little sister Lola recycle at home so she can enter a contest and win a real tree to plant at their school. The storybook includes a tree counter poster so you can keep track of how many things you recycle and earn your own tree. Based on the Charlie and Lola TV episode Look After Your Planet.
• Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear, by Matt Dray: This is the heartwarming story of a shy little teddy bear that got left out in the rain after a tea party. After getting soaked he ends up in the garbage can, on his way to the landfill. This storybook has lots of full color photos that follow Dougal to a very happy ending.
• Curious George Plants a Tree, by Monica Perez: This is one of the newer stories starring everyone’s favorite monkey. In it Curious George learns about recycling, taking care of the planet, and even goes to a Green Rally with the man in the yellow hat. The story includes George’s typical antics, and ends with the town’s people helping to plant trees at the library.
• Looking for a Moose, by Phillis Root: “Have you ever seen a moose – a long-leggy moose – a branchy-antler, dinner-diving, bulgy-nose moose?” begins this adventure illustrated by Randy Cecil. Join a group of friends as they walk from the forest floor to the hilltops in search of the elusive moose. This book includes lots of fun words for the different sounds of the natural areas being explored. It’s a good book to introduce habitats, observation skills, and nature walks.