The Best Earth Day Books for Kids

An author shares books to empower kids to be stewards of our planet

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The Rundown

For a Book That’s Also an Experience: My Friend Earth

“It has a die-cut design, which is fun for little hands to explore.”

For Beautiful Photos: Thank You, Earth

“You’ll find beautiful photography cover to cover, so kids can get an up close look at what they’re reading.” 

For Those Who Love the Water: We Are Water Protectors

“We can all be protectors of water, and this book is incredible in helping us see why and how.” 

For a Unique Recycling Lesson: Compost Stew

“Kids can learn how their food waste can break down into rich compost.”

For an Urban Environment: The Curious Garden

“This book will show kids that you can make a true difference if you have a dream.” 

For Specific Lessons: Over and Under the Pond

“Sometimes the best way to get kids excited about the environment is to focus on a specific topic they can really relate to.” 

For Animal Lovers: Save the Bees

“The illustrations are fun and colorful—perfect for young animal lovers who want to learn how to make a difference.” 

For Tiny Tots : The EARTH Book

“It’s a good book for even the youngest of environmentalists and perfect for families to read together.”

For Kids Who Are Ready for More: What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet

“It includes positive topics like recycling but also doesn’t shy away from things like pollution and litter.”

For Classrooms or Groups: This Class Can Save the Planet

“This book is designed to give kids real, tangible actions they can do in their schools and classrooms to help the planet.” 

For Kids of All Ages: Tall Tall Tree

"If you have kids in different age groups, this book will keep everyone entertained."

Earth Day is a great opportunity to empower kids and talk to them about how they can help the planet. From learning about protecting wild animals and natural habitats to reading about the impact of recycling or gardening, picture books are perfect for showing kids how to get involved. 

There are so many great books out there. I know this because I recently wrote a book on this topic myself, and before I started working on it, I did a deep dive researching books on topics like recycling, conservation, and sustainability. Here are my favorites, in no particular order, plus my own book at the end. These are sure to inspire the young environmentalists in your life — and probably the adults, too!

Here are the best Earth Day books for kids:

For a Book That’s Also an Experience: My Friend Earth 

My Friend Earth

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

The message of this book is beautiful and simple, encouraging kids to learn about the Earth and all that it does. It has a die-cut design, which is fun for little hands to explore, although those under 4 might need some help so the pages don’t tear. It covers a wide range of topics and will help kids gain an appreciation for everything from rain and wind, to bears and birds. It makes a great jumping off point for discussing our natural world and how to protect it.

For Beautiful Photos: Thank You, Earth 

Thank You, Earth

Courtesy of Walmart

The author of this book, April Pulley Sayre, has authored (and photographed) many award-winning books for kids, and this one is truly special. It’s written in a letter format, thanking the Earth for so many great natural moments and phenomenons. You’ll find beautiful photography cover to cover, so kids can get an up close look at what they’re reading. This book encourages kids to appreciate their own favorite moments in nature as well.

For Those Who Love the Water: We Are Water Protectors 

We Are Water Protectors

Courtesy of Walmart

It’s a New York Times bestseller and also a Caldecott Medal winner. The book talks about the importance of water to Indigenous Peoples, and it will help young readers and listeners gain a better understanding of water in general. We can all be protectors of water, and this book is incredible in helping us see why and how.

For a Unique Recycling Lesson: Compost Stew 

This book is focused on a pretty specific topic—composting—but it’s such a good lesson in the three Rs of reduce, reuse, and recycle. Kids can learn how their food waste can break down into rich compost. Use this topic as a way to introduce reusing other materials as well. It’s a strong way for kids to see how their actions really matter.

For an Urban Environment: The Curious Garden 

The Curious Garden

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

This is a slightly older picture book, but it has a beautiful lesson about finding nature in an urban world. This book will show kids that you can make a true difference if you have a dream. Encourage your kids to take a lesson from the main character and come up with their own projects and ideas for improving their own neighborhoods and cities. You might be surprised and impressed at what they dream up!

For Animal Lovers: Save the Bees

Save the Bees

Courtesy of Walmart

Author and illustrator Bethany Stahl has a whole series of “Save the” books, and they all have great lessons for kids. The illustrations are fun and colorful—perfect for young animal lovers who want to learn how to make a difference. On her website, she even has links to free animated audiobooks, which are a great resource for parents or teachers looking for virtual storytimes.

For Tiny Tots : The EARTH Book 

The EARTH Book

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

Todd Parr has always done a lovely job, focusing on simple illustrations and lessons. His distinct style shines through on this book, giving kids real ideas they can incorporate in their everyday lives. It’s a good book for even the youngest of environmentalists and perfect for families to read together. Use it to get the conversation going with little ones.

For Kids Who Are Ready for More: What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet 

What A Waste

Courtesy of Walmart

Is your child ready for more? This book is a little bit more than a typical picture book length at 72 pages, but it’s perfect for kids who really want to dig deeper or maybe are a bit older. It includes positive topics like recycling but also doesn’t shy away from things like pollution and litter. It’s filled with so much good information and colorful pictures. There’s no doubt your kids are going to learn a lot! 

For Specific Lessons: Over and Under the Pond

Over and Under the Pond

Courtesy of Walmart

Sometimes the best way to get kids excited about the environment is to focus on a specific topic they can really relate to. Over and Under the Pond takes a beautiful look at all the natural diversity in a single pond. With stunning illustrations and an easy-to-follow storyline, it might just be the perfect read to excite young readers.

For Classrooms or Groups: This Class Can Save the Planet 

This Class Can Save the Planet

Courtesy of Amazon

This is the book I wrote, and I created it because I know how powerful educators can be for teaching kids about sustainability and the environment. This book is designed to give kids real, tangible actions they can do in their schools and classrooms to help the planet. It includes everything from using up all your school supplies before you reach for more to making your own glue. Teachers can use it to implement zero waste practices in their classrooms.

You can read the story behind this book here.

For Kids of All Ages: Tall Tall Tree

Tall Tall Tree

Courtesy of Walmart

This book can keep kids of all ages interested during story time. Depicting the wildlife that lives in Northern California’s redwood forests, it turns story time into a counting lesson as young children count all the critters in the forests. Slightly older readers will also love reciting Tony Frederick’s playful rhyme all on their own and learning about the animals of the forest. The book even suggests STEM activities to further enrich the experience.

Final Verdict

You can’t go wrong with any of the books on this list. They all have different lessons and cover various topics for the young environmentalists in your life. Kids have an incredible opportunity to have a positive impact on our planet, and these books will definitely inspire.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Treehugger is always looking for ways to inspire environmentalists of all ages, both around Earth Day and throughout the year.

The writer, Stacy Tornio, has written several books on nature and encouraging kids to appreciate the outdoors. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and tries to get outside with her own two kids as much as possible.