One of the most fun things about parenting a preschooler is explaining complex ideas to a young mind. But, at the end of a long day, I'm not usually with it enough to sit down and explain the current thinking on global warming to my four-year-old. It's at these moments that I grab one of these great green books for the preschooler set.
From the simple stories with familiar characters like Curious George and Little Critter to full on explanations of the greenhouse effect and alternative energy with the gang from The Magic School Bus, these books have him teaching me how to be green.This year's list picks up where last year's 10 Books For the Green Preschooler post left off. Most of these are new titles published this year, but I've included a couple of back catalog titles that we discovered as well.
1. Global Warming by Seymour Simon
The title says it all. Global Warming, published by the Smithsonian, is a big picture look at our warming planet including causes, predicted outcomes and solutions. Author Seymour Simon touches on the greenhouse effect, melting ice, polar bears, flooding, dying coral, drought, renewable energy, and concludes with a list of personal actions to help mitigate the worst effects of global warming -- a good overview of what we're facing with engaging large format photos. My four-year-old keeps going back to the picture of a flooded farm house and barn to say, "That's a really big puddle."
2. The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole & Bruce Degen
Oh man, Ms Frizzle sure gets the Magic School Bus gang into some far out situations. In The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge, the bus first takes off to the arctic to check out the melting ice and the requisite polar bear visit. Then it's off on a round-the-world tour to visit melting permafrost, islands being flooded by rising sea levels, drought ridden farmland, dying coral, forest fires, overheated yellow-bellied marmots and an ice damaged avocado crop -- which produces our favorite line, "No Avocados? Holy Guacamole?".
Then the gang rides some sunbeams to learn about the greenhouse effect and flies through the air to see all the different human causes of rising CO2 levels. Finally Ms. Frizzle takes the students to check out alternative energy solutions, and the kids decide what personal actions they can take to help mitigate human caused global warming. Warning to parents in a hurry: As far as kids books go, this is a long, thorough look at global warming.
3. Fancy Nancy - Every Day Is Earth Day by Jane O'Connor
Part of the I Can Read series Fancy Nancy - Every Day is Earth Day keeps the spirit of the celebration alive throughout the year. Nancy helps get the early reader involved in making conscious green decisions as she makes sure everyone in her family does right by turning off the lights, shutting down their computers and taking a reusable bag to the store. (I was admonished to "Please take note. Always bring a tote." on my way to buy groceries after our first read through.)
Nancy gets a tad overzealous in her green ways -- even going so far as turning out her little sister's night light with predictable results -- so her parents agree to cooperate and modify their behavior if she tones down the bossiness. (As the father of an opinionated child, this behavior negotiation is a nice touch.) We are happy to see a green-themed addition to the Fancy Nancy franchise.
4. Margaret & H.A. Rey's Curious George Plants a Tree
In typical George fashion, when Curious George plants a tree, things don't go exactly as planned. After learning about recycling, George gets overzealous and starts collecting just-delivered newspaper lemonade stand cups and other papers still in use from his neighbors. When they all catch up with George, The Man With The Yellow Hat intervenes and explains that George was simply trying to do good. The neighbors understand and stick around to help plant some trees.
Halfway through Curious George's misadventure, I was happy to hear my son make the connection to the much more thorough Magic School Bus book, when he simply stated "This is about the same thing as the Magic School Bus."