It’s Earth Day! Celebrate our planet with books that explore the environment. These stories explore social-emotional and developmental issues, but the natural world plays an important role. 

All the Feelings Under the Sun: How to Deal With Climate Change by Leslie Davenport , illustrated by Jessica Smith

All the Feelings Under the Sun: How to Deal With Climate Change is a timely, thoughtful workbook that will help young readers work through their feelings of anxiety about climate change. Through informative text and activities, the book gives children age-appropriate information about the climate crisis and gives them the tools they need to manage their anxiety and work toward making change.

Camilla, Cartographer by Julie Dillemuth, PhD, Illustrated by Laura Wood

Camilla loves maps. Old ones, new ones, she loves them all! She often imagines what it must have been like to explore and discover a new path for the first time. One morning, Camilla wakes up to a huge snowstorm. Her neighbor Parsley can’t find the path to the creek. But Camilla has her old map — which inspires her to make her own path and her own map!

While focused on cartography and developing spatial awareness, Camilla Cartographer also explores what it’s like to see your environment in new and different natural conditions. 

  • A Bank Street College Best Book of the Year

“Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions. An adorable adventure in cartography.” Kirkus Reviews

Hear Camilla, Cartographer, read aloud. 

Read an excerpt from the Note to Parents and Caregivers in Camilla, Cartographer. 

Grow Grateful, Grow Happy, and Grow Kind by Sage Foster-Lasser and Jon Lasser, PhD, illustrated by Christopher Lyles

While these three books explore positive psychology and the process of developing kindness, happiness, and gratitude, all are set in the natural world and draw parallels between gardening or being in nature and these positive feelings.

Grow Happy Grow Happy Book Cover

My name is Kiko. I’m a gardener. I grow happy. Let me show you how.

Kiko shows the reader how she grows happiness: by making good choices, taking care of her body and mind, paying attention to her feelings, problem solving, and spending time with family and friends.

Grow Grateful Grow Grateful Book Cover

Head off with Kiko on a school camping trip and learn how she figures out what being grateful is and what it feels like. Maybe you can grow grateful, too!

Grow Kind

Kiko grows and cultivates her garden, harvesting and sharing the fruits and veggies with her friends, neighbors, and family. This delightful tale serves as a metaphor of nurturing relationships and community, while sharing kindness with others.

Grow Kind is a gentle narrative based on positive psychology and choice theory, essentially about cultivating kindness.

“In their follow-up to Grow Happy and Grow Grateful, the father-daughter authorial team shares Kiko the gardener’s journey to fostering kindness…. Engaging.” Publishers Weekly

Hear Grow Kind read aloud.

Read an excerpt from the Note to Parents and Caregivers in Grow Kind. 

Hector’s Favorite Place by Jo Rooks

Hector loves his cozy, snugly, safe home. It’s his favorite place to be. Hector loves his home so much that he doesn’t often go out, and soon, it starts to affect his friendships. Can Hector find the courage to break out of his comfort zone?

Part of what Hector is missing when his anxiety prevents him from going out is enjoying being outdoors with his friends, hearing the snow crunching under his feet, or ice skating with his friends. The story explores how Hector overcomes his anxiety and gets out of the house and into nature to see friends. 

Also by Jo Rooks:  Once Upon a Garden Series

Jo Rooks has also created a series of four books whose cast of garden critter characters work through social emotional issues like shyness and self-acceptance. The stories celebrate life in the garden and the special gifts each character brings to the community.

“The series is perfect for young children who are working with issues of shyness, self-acceptance, and courage, and discovering new talents, skills and hard work. There is simplicity in the text and the illustrations are happy and bright and compliment the emotions and themes in each book…sure to boost the self-confidence of children.” —Children’s Books Heal

Hear Sophie’s Shell read aloud. 

The Hugging Tree by Jill Niemark, Illustrated by Nicole Wang

The Hugging Tree tells the story of a little tree growing all alone on a cliff, by a vast and mighty sea. Through thundering storms and the cold of winter, the tree holds fast. Sustained by the natural world and the kindness and compassion of one little boy, eventually the tree grows until it can hold and shelter others.

“Delicate artwork touchingly conveys the tree’s lonesome and perilous circumstances, and after a storm tears away the tree’s roots, a boy brings it soil, enabling it to thrive and suggesting that resilience doesn’t necessarily mean absolute independence…” Publisher’s Weekly

Hear The Hugging Tree read aloud.

Read about how YouTube read-alouds of The Hugging Tree went viral during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Silence by Lemniscates

What can you hear when you are completely silent? Is that the wind blowing? Birds chirping? Sun shining? World whirling? Maybe a car engine or faraway plane? Maybe kids laughing or playing tag? Be still. Listen. Focus on the now. What do you hear? By paying attention to what is otherwise lost in our noisy world, you can develop your imagination and curiosity and learn a lot more about yourself.

This award-winning picture book encourages kids to slow down and pay attention to the world around them. 

  • Bronze Medalist, Foreword Book of the Year Awards

“This eloquent book, collaboratively illustrated by the Lemniscates studio of artists and designers, invites readers to listen to what they hear during quiet moments…This is a lovely book to share with a child — or with anyone between 2 and 102.” —Denver Post