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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?