Celebrate Earth Day: Raising Children to be Environmental Stewards
Posted on April 20, 2017
The environment that surrounds us and the animals with which we share our world have never been under such a constant and immediate threat. As the dangers of climate change are made more and more clear to us, it is important that parents, caregivers, and other adults in a child’s life teach them how to be good stewards of the natural world. This is of course easier said than done when so much of how we’ve lived our lives for decades is what is destroying the natural world. The solution to climate change and wildlife extinction contains many different layers and no one person can tackle them all, but there are small, fun ways caregivers and children can become environmental stewards and play a small part in the climate change solution.
There are many ways caregivers and parents can embrace nature and provide environmental stewardship learning opportunities for their children – some are as simple as planting a vegetable garden. Planting a garden and growing your own produce is a great way to show your children that fruits and vegetables can be bought locally, or better yet grown in your own yard. By growing or buying local, we are teaching children that there are better ways to do things that involve less carbon emissions, less usage of pesticides, and result in better usage of our local lands.
If growing your own garden is not doable, there are other things that can be done and most of them for free! Going for a nature walk not only gets you out of the house and away from the screen, but also provides an opportunity to educate your children about nature and the philosophy of “leaving no trace.” Volunteering or spending time at a local animal shelter is a great way to breed empathy and sympathy for other living creatures. Encourage your child to ask family and friends to donate to an environmental cause in their name (in lieu of birthday presents), which can help them to understand what it means to prioritize giving to a cause they care about over receiving physical things.
Here in Toledo we are lucky to have a great zoo that is affordable and fun! While you enjoy and view the wild animals, take some time to talk about why these animals can no longer live in their natural habitat and why we need to conserve the natural world so that one day the animals at the zoo will no longer need to live in enclosures and can again live freely in their natural habitat.
This Earth Day take the time to start a conversation about environmental stewardship. Teaching kids about the need to preserve and protect our environment can be a process that is fun and educational for everyone involved.
Recommended Reads to Celebrate Earth Day
Best Earth Day Picture Books for Kids
|Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Holding her stuffed toy chimpanzee, young Jane Goodall observes nature, reads Tarzan books, and dreams of living in Africa and helping animals. Includes biographical information on the prominent zoologist.
|One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of Gambia
Inspired by the true story of Isatou Ceesay and the recycling women of the Gambia.
|If You Plant a Seed: Words and Paintings by Kadir Nelson
While planting seeds in their garden, two animals learn the value of kindness.
Best Easy Reader Earth Day Books for Kids
|Every Day is Earth Day by Jane O’Connor
When Nancy, the girl who loves to use fancy words, learns about Earth Day and “being green,” her enthusiasm causes problems at home.
Katie Saves the Earth by Fran Manushkin
With Earth Day coming up, Katie decides to have a yard sale with her friends and recycle her old toys.
Best Earth Day Nonfiction Books for Kids
|The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins
Documents the true story of the nature pioneer and activist who, after becoming the first woman to earn a science degree from the University of California, took a teaching position in the desert region of San Diego and single-handedly launched a movement to transform the area with trees and gardens.
|The EARTH Book by Todd Parr
Simple text and illustrations show how children can help protect the Earth.
|Earth Day by Joanna Ponto
Describes the history and traditions of Earth Day, including a craft and recipe.
|Earth Day Every Day by Lisa Bullard
Discusses how children can help the planet by planting trees, starting an environmental club at school, and learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
|Let’s Celebrate Earth Day by Connie & Peter Roop
Using a question-and-answer format, the Roops introduce the history and importance of Earth Day.
Children’s Nonfiction Books on Endangered Animals
|DK Eyewitness Books: Endangered Animals by Ben Hoare & Tom Jackson
Eyewitness: Endangered Animals takes a look at creatures around the world that are currently threatened with extinction, along with the ways that we can help them survive.
|Snow Leopards by Erika L. Shores
Simple text and full-color photos explain the habitat, life cycle, range, and behavior of snow leopards.
|Mammals of the Southern Hemisphere edited by Tim Harris
Describes various mammals in the Southern Hemisphere that are endangered and at risk of becoming extinct. Data Sheet sidebars and maps accompany the text.
|Mammals of the Northern Hemisphere edited by Tim Harris
Describes various mammals in the Northern Hemisphere that are endangered and at risk of becoming extinct. Data Sheet sidebars and maps accompany the text.
Recommended Documentaries to Celebrate Earth Day
|IMAX: Blue Planet
From the unique vantage point of 200 miles above Earth’s surface, we see how natural forces – volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes – affect our world, and how a powerful new force – humankind – has begun to alter the face of the planet. From Amazon rain forests to Serengeti grasslands, Blue Planet inspires a new appreciation of life on Earth, our only home.
|Planet Earth: The Complete Series
A stunning 11-part series that captures rare action, impossible locations, and intimate moments with our planet’s best-loved, wildest, and most elusive creatures.
|Planet Earth II
This 2016 follow-up to the 2006 documentary mini-series “Planet Earth” examines the natural features and wildlife found in various parts of the world, each of the six episodes corresponding to a different category of natural or man-made terrain (e.g., island, mountain, jungle, urban area, etc.).