Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Books for Earth Day and Poetry Month ~by Christy Mihaly

Today let's explore poems about Earth! Tomorrow (April 22) is Earth Day . . . and of course . . .  

April is National Poetry Month. 

SO: Here's a quick round-up of ten Earth-themed books for kids. Of the many books out there I chose 5 outstanding poetry books and 5 favorite rhyming picture books. Please add your own in the comments! 

Nature-Themed Poetry Books

Poetry is an ideal way to encourage kids to explore nature: reading and writing poems makes us slow down, observe, and ponder the wonder and the connections.

The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom
(Roaring Brook, 2021).
This new picture book is written and illustrated by Lita Judge. It illuminates cutting edge science about how trees communicate and collaborate in communities. Judge uses heartfelt, evocative poems to convey the magical-seeming properties of trees. Gorgeous art complements the scientific sidebars and helpful back matter about each spread.

A Place to Start a Family: Poems about Creatures That Build (Charlesbridge, 2019).
David Harrison's dozen poems about animal architects, illustrated by Giles Laroche, provide a fun introduction to structures that animals build, from birds to fish, prairie dogs to king cobras and more. 

Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year (Nosy Crow, 2018) is a gorgeous 366-poem anthology edited by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon. Though the selected poets tend toward the classical (Emily Bronte, Margaret Wise Brown, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost) with a smattering of traditional verses, it's a nice introduction for kids.

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 poems with photographs that float, zoom, and bloom! (Nat Geo Kids, 2015). Whew, that title just about says it all. This book will engage young readers who love photos. It's filled with stunning Nat Geo images from around the world, paired with poems old and new. The poets here include Nikki Grimes, Langston Hughes, and Naomi Shihab Nye, and are collected by J. Patrick Lewis, a former children's poet laureate. 

Song of the Water Boatman and other Pond Poems
(HMH 2005) offers wonderful kid-friendly poems about the creatures and plants that live in and around a pond. Joyce Sidman starts with my favorites -- spring peepers, those tiny heralds of spring --  and moves through the seasons with poems and informational sidebars. Striking woodcuts by Beckie Prange bring the pond ecosystem to life.

Rhyming Picture Books about Earth

Chase the Moon, Tiny Turtle: A Hatchling's Daring Race to the Sea (Page Street Kids, 2021). In rhyming verse, Kelly Jordan captures the drama of a loggerhead turtle's post-hatching sprint across the sand to the safety of the ocean. The lyrical text and Sally Walker's engaging illustrations are sure to delight young readers as they learn about sea turtles and their struggle to survive.

Ocean Soup: A Recipe for You, Me, and a Cleaner Sea
(Sleeping Bear, 2021). Meeg Pincus's clever rhymes explain plastic pollution in the ocean, using the metaphor of soup -- how we threw all the ingredients in and let it simmer for years -- and includes specific actions kids can take to help. Bright illustrations by Lucy Semple keep the tone upbeat. 
Anywhere Farm (Candlewick, 2020) by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Brian Karas, stands out for its inclusivity. It encourages kids by letting them know you can start a garden on a city vacant lot ... or really anywhere: 
"But a pan or a bucket,
a pot or a shoe, 
a bin or a tin 
or a window will do." Empowering and inspiring.

One Earth
(WorthyKids, 2020) is a rhyming counting book that does it all! In addition to teaching the numbers, text by Eileen Spinelli and art by Rogerio Coelho share the wonder of Earth, and may inspire kids to want to take care of it.

Compost Stew: Recipe for the Earth (Dragonfly Books, 2014) puts a different spin on the "ocean soup" concept. It's a zippy rhymer that explains compost to kids. With clever rhyming verse by Mary McKenna Siddals and fun pictures by Ashley Wolff, this book is a great way to get kids excited about composting. 

Bottom line: Nature inspires great writing! This post just scratches the surface -- what other great books do you recommend?


  1. Such a great list! I especially love THE WISDOM OF TREES. It's such a beautiful book and the perfect blend of poetry and nonfiction!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! Isn't that one magnificent? And there were so many others that I didn't have room for ... I love FRESH-PICKED POETRY also!!

  2. LOVE this list! So much fun and inspiration! Thanks!

  3. Thank you, Angie -- I had a lot of fun putting it together!

  4. This is a great list. I have read some of these and will read the rest soon. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks, Rosi! There were more I wanted to include, too -- but these are all so terrific. Poetry is a balm these days.

  5. These are wonderful books! Some of my favorites, too! Thanks for pulling them together in this Earth Day list.

    1. Thanks, Sue! There were a lot of great ones to pick from but I went for poetry and rhyme so that helped narrow it down ...

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ruth, hope you'll enjoy these poems and books.

  7. Wonderful list. When it came out, I read a poem each day along with Sing A Song of Seasons, love David Harrison's A Place to Start a Family & still want to read Ocean Soup, a delightful title. Thanks for all the titles!

    1. Thank you! I agree, these are such wonderful collections of poems -- and rhyming PBs!

  8. Christy, thank you for this list of nature books for Earth Day! I've got some reading to do :)