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Written by Flannery Fitch   


“April showers bring May flowers,” but since we received so much rain in March, it seems likely that April will have plenty of flowers of its own—just in time for Earth Day! To celebrate Earth Day, I’ve decided to highlight some of amazing children’s picture books about nature. There are so many great ones, it was hard to choose!


This Is the Earth

by Diane Z. Shore & Jessica Alexander

This book takes readers on a journey from a lush untouched Earth to an Earth changed by human industry that people are fighting to protect. Short verses narrate each page, while paintings by Wendell Minor bring the vivid hues of the planet to life. This lovely book is perfect for reading out loud, and ends with a message of hope.


When Green Becomes Tomatoes

by Julie Fogliano

This charming book of poems celebrates the seasons. Rejoicing in everything from tiny buds poking through the frozen ground to tomatoes turning from green to red, the life of a pumpkin, and the quiet magic of snow, this is a book you can return to again and again throughout the year.


Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

by Laurie Lawlor

I would guess that most adults in Santa Cruz are familiar with Rachel Carson and her book, Silent Spring. This lovely book tells Carson’s life story, from her childhood love of nature and writing, to her struggles finding a job as woman with a Master’s Degree during the Great Depression, to her varied career studying the natural world, to her final, groundbreaking work, which she wrote while battling breast cancer. Rachel Carson was so much more than Silent Spring, and her story is an inspiration for anyone hoping to study and save the Earth.


Over in the Wetlands

by Caroline Starr Rose

Here on the West Coast, we don’t have to contend with hurricanes, but we’ve heard of the devastation they can leave in their path. For animals on Louisiana’s Bayou, hurricanes are a fact of life. This poetic book examines the impact of a hurricane on the Bayou on the many creatures who inhabit the area. Over in the Wetlands is a great book for teaching kids about a storm system very different from the ones we experience.


Life in the Boreal Forest

by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Another aspect of nature that coastal Californians might not know much about is what life is like the boreal forest that covers the Northern Hemisphere. This often-snowy landscape, covered in fir and pine, is becoming more and more threatened by humans every year. This gorgeous picture book brings to life the many creatures that live in the forest or migrate there to breed, and reminds us of how fragile that rich ecosystem is.


Frozen Wild

by Jim Arnosky

Perfect for older elementary school kids, Frozen Wild is a detailed look at how animals survive in the coldest places on Earth. Filled with beautiful paintings and page flaps that open into full lap spreads, it offers a look into the survival skills of creatures in both the Arctic and Antarctica, plus a look inside of beaver dam!


The Octopus Scientists

by Sy Montgomery

I think octopuses are completely amazing, and this book shows just how amazing they are. Filled with facts and underwater photographs, this is a perfect book to introduce middle school kids to these intelligent ocean dwellers. If they get excited enough about it, you can take them to see the incredible Octopus exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium!


Flannery Fitch is a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her life has been about books since before she could read.

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