Earth Day evolved from a culmination of many individuals who followed their heart and instincts when they realized change was necessary to save our planet, some started as children. Each one took a chance and embarked on nature’s paths so that others could follow in their footsteps, paying it forward to save our planet…proving one person CAN make a difference.

John Muir, America’s First Environmentalist

johnmuirJohn Muir, America’s First Environmentalist, by Kathryn Lasky with illustrations by Stan Fellows, is a biography about how one person who, by following his interests and instincts, made a difference beginning with his childhood in Scotland and then America in the 1800’s. John Muir was that young boy who had the foresight to know our planet would be in need of protecting. It was his calling to travel throughout America, often by foot, as he studied and recorded his observations of nature. Thanks to his perseverance, President Harrison was persuaded to create Yosemite National Park as the first of many that we enjoy today, protected from the destruction that eventually would have taken away the beauty and habitats of creatures and also mankind. John Muir dedicated his life to studying and embracing the wilderness in order to understand it as much as one person could. The Sierra Club, dedicated to continuing the vision that John Muir brought to fruition, was initiated by John Muir himself a few years before his death.

John Muir is a subject that I was not familiar with until this past week when I read a review copy sent to me by Candlewick Press in honor of Earth Day. I enjoyed learning how innovative he was at an early age inventing a saw mill and others that children will be interested in learning about, too. The book is written simply enough to introduce children to John Muir’s life in a way that shows how our land was once uninhabited and flourished through the wonderful illustrations. What impressed me the most was how he pursued his thirst for learning about the untraveled wilderness, including his 1000 mile walk to the Gulf Coast. Because of his explorations, writings, and persistent sharing of his knowledge, this one man made a difference that we, today, enjoy when we visit National Parks and other protected pleasures of nature. Visit the link to National Parks to learn about National Park Week which offers activities to celebrate our national heritage…it is the same week as Earth Day each year.

[usr=4] because I don’t think children need to know about (and see) John Muir and his brother, as young children, climb on their roof at night when their father thought they were asleep in their beds as an example of how they would challenge each other. The author does include that his younger brother came close to having an accident. I would take time to emphasize what could have happened. John Muir, America’s First Environmentalist should be shared with children when studying National Parks, or planning visits, and celebrating Earth Day. This book would be a welcomed addition to school libraries.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 56 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2006

The Promise

thepromise4One person can make a difference is the theme that reoccurs in this next Earth Day children’s book review, The Promise by Nicola Davies with dramatic, colorful illustrations by Laura Carlin.

The Promise brought to mind a short story read in a high school English class I co-taught a few years ago. The story was Thank you, Ma’am by Langston Hughes. Some may say they aren’t similar, but for me they are because in both stories, the paths of a troubled child and a woman with a bag cross and the possibility of a life altering moment for each child ensues. The Promise goes one beyond but I won’t give a story spoiler. I highly recommend that this easy to read story be shared with the children in your life as an example how one event can make a difference…not only in their own life, but in the lives of others.

The publisher suggests The Promise is for children ages 5 – 9, but I shared it with my soon to be 13-year-old granddaughter on Easter. This opened the opportunity for discussion. Don’t limit who you share this story with, it is too valuable. I’d like to see The Promise on the shelf in school libraries and classrooms.

[usr=4] because I believe the recommended ages should include older children through age 13. Pre-teens are at a very impressionable time and need to learn how to make choices, for some may eventually come their way with serious consequences.

Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2014

A Bucket of Blessings

Blessings3A Bucket of Blessings by Kabir and Surishtha Sehgal with illustrations by Jing Jing Tsong is my third Earth Day book review with the theme of one can make a difference for others. In this mythical story from India, Monkey knows that he, his neighbors, and the villagers all need water. But, the well and lake are dry and no rain is in the air. Monkey remembers a story his mother told him about how peacocks can make it rain by dancing. In hopes that her story is true, he climbs the mountain to visit Peacock with an empty bucket.

A Bucket of Blessings is a story of positive thinking and how the kindness of one can carry forward to others who are unknown. In the afterword by Maya Angelou states, “The reader is shown that it is a blessing to be a blessing. The authors deftly show the reader that when one’s intent is to help another, people whose names they will never know and faces they will never see will benefit.”

[usr=5] because children should be introduced to acts of kindness beginning at a young age so that this mindset will come naturally to them when they have the opportunity to make a difference, no matter how small or large their effort may be. The illustrations are colorful and show the monkey’s concern and joy. And also for the following…

By purchasing this simply written picture book, a portion of your purchase price will be donated by the mother & son writing team, Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal, to charity: water, ( ), an organization that provides clean drinking water to communities in developing nations.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Beach Lane Books, April 29, 2014
Sold by: Simon & Shuster

E-I-E-I-O! How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Red Hen

oldmacdonald>Earth Day is the perfect time to plan an organic garden project with children. And the perfect book to introduce that gardening project is How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help from a Red Hen. This fun nursery rhyme with a new approach is written by Judy Sierra and enhanced by Matthew Myers’ colorful illustrations for the young eye. Ask your child what they think a farm is and what is its purpose. Then ask, “What do you think was there before?” and “What do you think had to be done to make it a healthy farm for both people and animals?”

Old MacDonald is updated in this fun picture book to a modern-day, urban backyard setting. With the help of Red Hen as his advisor, he learns how to become an organic farmer. This is a truly read-together book that can also be sung together to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Young children will enjoy chiming in with E I E I O!

I gave this book to my grandson yesterday for Easter. He loved it! Because the day was so busy, I didn’t get a photo of his mommy reading it to him. She promised to send me one soon.

[usr=5] because it is fun, colorful, and teaches children about organic farming in a way that they can understand.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2014

I will definitely share all of these books with not only my grandchildren, but with my followers on facebook, twitter, and also sharing my reviews on product pages. Feedback greatly appreciated!

Nana’s Note 1: These Earth Day books, may also come in other formats.
Nana’s Note 2: The above books were received for the purpose of review with the stipulation by me that if I didn’t like or approve of a book, I would not review it here or anywhere else. I hope you’ll take a closer look and consider these to share with the children in your life.
Nana’s Note 3: I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews or from purchases of the books. Links are provided so you may read other reviews on These books are available from bookstores and other sites, too.