Getting Earthy With It: 22 Books Celebrating Nature for Earth Day
I’m sorry about the title. Sort of.
I can’t say I’ve ever celebrated Earth Day (except maybe that school performance we did of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax where we, the fourth graders, brilliantly sang “All we are saying, is give trees a chance” to the tune of “Give Peace a Chance”?), but I do love this old place very dearly. I’m an enneagram 4, so, trust me, there’s a lot of marveling over the beauty of the light slanting through trees and water rippling through stones and twirling around in rhapsody like a regular Anne of Green Gables over all the beauty out there. We’re outside almost every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, and it’s probably the only thing outside of essentials that I feel like I need to do everyday. Naturally, pun intended, I so value books that somehow capture the awe and majesty of our natural world.
This list of books that highlight nature is in approximate age order (picture books, middle grade, adults) and the links are affiliate, so thank you so much for using them if you’re interested in the book. Please share ones you love, too! There’s something particularly comforting about nature right now, isn’t there?
- Patricia MacLachlan’s and Francesca Sanna’s My Friend Earth
- The details and cut-outs in this gorgeously compiled book and its comforting words about the rhythms of nature make it such a pleasure to read every time. Yes, you’ve seen this many times in my lists because it’s THAT AMAZING. Thank you, Chronicle!
- Carmen Lemniscate’s Seeds
- From the literal facts about seeds to the touching metaphorical message about how what we plant is what we grow, this is a lovely one through and through. Thank you, Candlewick!
- Dawn Casey and Genevieve Godbout’s Apple Cake: A Gratitude
- A reminder of all that goes into making an apple cake (plus a recipe). The illustrations in this one are by a favorite artist of mine and make me feel a little swoon-y every time we pick this one up.
- Mary Murphy’s Only a Tree Knows How To Be a Tree
- The message of this one makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy every time we read it. I happily read it over and over to our daughter, who also loves it. Thank you, Candlewick!
- Natasha Durley’s Creature Features
- Vibrant illustrations of different animals grouped by their unique features and an explanation for why they have them. Big noses? They’ve got ’em. Long tails? They’ve got ’em. This one is so fun to go through together and so original feeling. Thank you, Candlewick!
- Sue Soltis’s and Christine Davenier’s The Stars Just Up the Street
- This is the story of a little girl who takes the steps to lead her town to do what it takes so that they can admire the stars. Thank you, Candlewick!
- Dylan Glynn’s Rain Boy
- The story of a personified Rain and Sun and what it takes for people to learn to appreciate Rain for who he is and what he can bring. It’s touchingly done and the illustrations are unlike any I’ve seen- both dreamily childlike and detailed. Thank you, Chronicle!
- Britta Teckentrup’s Moon
- There is something so peaceful about books that feature the beauty of night like this.
- Randi Sonenshine’s and Anne Hunter’s The Nest That Wren Built
- To the rhythm of The House That Jack Built, this book goes through the process of Carolina wrens building their nests. Informative and inviting! Thank you, Candlewick!
- Pete Oswald’s Hike
- I don’t usually go for books without words, but I really like this one. A child and their father wake up and we follow along on their hike and discover their family tradition. It’s so well done and it feels like a…breath of fresh air…get it?! Thank you, Candlewick!
- Jeannine Atkin’s Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science
A middle grade novel in verse that explores the stories of three girls who are a major part of science, despite us all probably never having heard of them. Atkins has a gift and I wish more people picked this one up!
- Elise Broach’s Wolf Keepers
- An adventure set in Yosemite Park with two kids who become unlikely friends as they try to save the wolves who have started mysteriously dying. Original and captivating.
- Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain
- Do you remember this one? I’ve been wanting to pick it up again because it’s one I know I was thrilled about as a kid, but I all I really remember is the main character discovering himself while he tried to survive on the mountain. See also: Hatchet.
- Paul Fleischman’s Seedfolks
- While poking around, I came across this one and I can’t wait to read it. A piece of the blurb: “A Vietnamese girl plants six lima beans in a Cleveland vacant lot. Looking down on the immigrant-filled neighborhood, a Romanian woman watches suspiciously. A school janitor gets involved, then a Guatemalan family. Then muscle-bound Curtis, trying to win back Lateesha. Pregnant Maricela. Amir from India. A sense of community sprouts and spreads.”
- Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems
- She’s the Queen of Nature, as far as I’m concerned. King? Either way, the best. She constantly has me stopping to reread lines over and over again in awe. I particularly like this collection.
- Christiane Ritter’s A Woman in the Polar Night
- Chelsey cued me in to this gem. This memoir of a woman who spends a year living in a ramshackle hut in the Arctic with her husband and a stranger will absolutely make you feel in awe of nature.
- Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and Teaching of Plants
- I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard so many good things about it and it seems so unique.
- Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder: A Celebration of Nature for Parents and Children
- A friend just loaned this one to me and it was a moving, short read about developing a, well, sense of wonder about the world around us. It’s accompanied by photography and would make a lovely gift for a nature lover.
- John Muir’s Wilderness Essays
- I’ve been wanting one of these striking Gibbs Smiths editions of any of John Muir’s writings since I first saw them in a bookstore, but perhaps a collection is the best place to start? I am in awe of what Muir has done for all of us and his ability to write.
- Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Gathering Moss: A Natural History and Cultural History of Mosses
- I hear a title like this and wrinkle my nose. Maybe this would be an interesting podcast episode, but a whole book? Read the description and then maybe you’ll be sold.
- Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
- Another one high up on my to-read list. It almost feels like it might be the ultimate nature book? Have you read it?
- Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
- I was familiar with the more famous quotes, but I finally read this a year ago as part of my classics project. It’s a beaut. There are so many quotes that made me stop in my tracks to the point where I was actually underlining things, which I never do.
Have you read any of these? What are your favorite books that celebrate nature?
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