As Earth Day nears, these books for young readers show natural treasures and ways to protect them — every day

Caroline Luzzatto | Virginian-Pilot Correspondent

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Invest in Our Planet” — an effort to encourage earthlings to preserve the planetary treasures we have and to look for ways to make the world a better, greener, healthier place. Young readers seeking ways to invest in the world they’ll inherit will find a great wealth of books about plants, animals, water and other resources.

Here are just a few worth adding to your Earth Day (and everyday) bookshelf. (Earth Day, by the way, is April 22.)


Young people looking for a thoughtful, user-friendly guide to how and why to recycle will appreciate “Can I Recycle This?” by Jennie Romer. (Ages 4 through 8. Viking. $18.99.)

Filled with sketchbook-like illustrations of grinning cans and bottles by Christie Young, this approachable book explains how recycling works and why some items can’t be recycled.

But it also aims higher, looking ahead to “a future where all packaging is reusable or refillable, and companies are completely responsible for cleaning up after themselves,” and encouraging young people to make that world a reality.


Catherine Barr's
Catherine Barr’s “Water: How We Can Protect Our Freshwater.” (Candlewick Press)

Catherine Barr’s “Water: How We Can Protect Our Freshwater” helps young people identify how a worldwide issue affects them — including the role that access to safe, clean water plays in making sure girls in some parts of the world can attend school. (Illustrated by Christiane Engel. Ages 5 through 9. Candlewick Press. $18.99.)

Vivid, detail-packed scenes portray the ways water is used around the world, how it can be conserved, and the role of climate change in the availability of clean water. “Water is life,” Barr reminds readers. “Freshwater springs, bubbles, and flows with some of the most wonderful life on earth.”


Ken Wilson-Max's
Ken Wilson-Max’s “Eco Girl.” (Candlewick Press)

Young people who have fallen in love with the magic of trees will find plenty of books that feed their passion for all things green.

Ken Wilson-Max’s “Eco Girl” tells the tender story of a girl who appreciates the fact that “each tree has its own special part to play in the world, taking care of animals and people.” (Ages 4 through 8. Candlewick. $17.99.)

On her birthday, this young sapling carries on her family tradition by planting a baobab tree, adding to the greening of the world. (An afterword includes information about Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement and facts about trees and tree-planting.)

Lulu Delacre’s “Cool Green: Amazing, Remarkable Trees” has a similar sense of wonder, paying poetic tribute to Delacre’s favorite trees, from the baobab, to the odd monkey puzzle and Wollemi pine trees, to the ancient coast redwood. (Ages 4 through 8. Candlewick. $17.99.)

In addition to featuring tree “stars” (which are discussed in more detail in notes at the end), this text explores how the trees in forests protect their young, communicate with chemicals, and network with underground fungi in a “wondrous wood-wide web.”


For young readers whose tastes run more toward scales, fur and feathers, Nicola Davies’ “One World: 24 Hours on Planet Earth” offers a glimpse at night and day around the globe, and the creatures stirring all over it. (Illustrated by Jenni Desmond. Ages 6 through 9. Candlewick. $18.99.)

A magical flight from one time zone to the next shows polar bears hunting in the Arctic Circle, sea turtle hatchlings on a beach in India, whale sharks gulping plankton in the Philippines, and a pouncing jaguar in Brazil’s Pantanal — as well as the challenges they face.

These sweeping portraits of the planet’s wonders make the point that “our world is fragile and threatened — but still lovely.”

Caroline Luzzatto has taught preschool and fourth grade. Reach her at