Author: Bridget McGovern Llewellyn
Photographs: Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
Age Category: 3 to 5 years +
Genre: Picture Books
Children’s Books for Earth Day
One Child, One Planet
This children’s book for earth day begins by briefly describing the earth and the trouble it faces due to global warming, and then focuses on what people—and especially children—can do to help counter global warming via conservation. Specifically, the book points to familiar practices such as reducing the consumption of water, planting trees, conserving electricity, recycling, reducing the use of electronic devices, and generally squashing greedy consumer habits.
Children’s Books for Earth Day: Beautiful and Important
The best part about this children’s book for earth day is surely the beautiful photographs that compose the background of every page. The sweeping landscape scenes are positively gorgeous: a misty moonrise over treetops, an aerial view exploding with the colors of fall trees, distant towering rainbows, a majestic glacier, a babbling brook, a glowing-blue glacial lake, and a beach at sunset. What’s not to love?
The photos of animals and children in their “habitats” are also delightful. Kids will coo over the images of browsing deer (“Bambi!”), soaring eagles, baby raccoons, fuzzy ducklings, a playful polar bear, climbing black bear cubs, and a squirrel with his cheeks full of nuts. The images of children playing in the beautiful outdoors and helping with conservation are also charming: kids will imagine themselves as conservationists, and adults will treasure the children in their lives all the more.
A further positive aspect of this children’s book for earth day is that it conveys an important message, namely the urgency of the global warming problem and steps we can take to solve it. Of course, this message is not new: at times our contemporary media is saturated with it. However, what is novel is a children’s book that conveys this message. This picture book describes the problem in terms kids will (mostly) understand, and proposes conservation solutions in which kids can participate. The book includes a helpful summary of “A Dozen Things a Child Can Do For Earth” in its final pages, along with a more extensive list for the inspired adult. One Child, One Planet represents a much needed step toward educating the next generation about the pressing problem of global warming and the importance of conservation, and as such it has considerable developmental value for children.
The Downside: Strained Verse, Too Long
While there is clearly much that I like about this children’s book for earth day, several factors detract from its subjective appeal—i.e., from that which makes the book appealing to children. First, the loosely rhyming verse is too loose in places—indeed, I would call it strained at times. For example, pp. 23-24 says “Three big favors Mother Earth asks: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. ‘How can I make a difference?’ you ask. Explore ways to change your lifestyle…” This kind of “rhyming” scheme just didn’t work for me.
The verse also seems trite in places. For example, the first two pages of the book read, “As sure as the sun will shine, as sure as the moon will glow, we need Earth, and Earth needs us, more than we’ll ever know” (pp. 1-2). The rhyming scheme here is reminiscent of a “roses are red…” poem: not very interesting or creative. In reading this book, I longed for the tight clever verse of Dr. Seuss (e.g., in The Lorax
Finally, the organization of this children’s book for earth day is less-than-tight in places. For example, after describing a bit about the earth and introducing the global warming problem—touching particularly on the problem of melting snow and ice in places that should be cold (p. 9)—on p. 12 the book proposes conservation as the solution to the problem. At this point the reader is prepared to launch into the particulars of conservation (“What is it? How do we do it?”). Although it starts haltingly in that direction, the book then reverts to discussing the problem of melting polar ice caps (pp. 16-21) before actually getting to conservation (p. 23). As a result of this structural disorganization, the book is longer than it should be: my six- and eight-year-old lost interest about half way through.
In summary, while there is much I like about this children’s book for Earth Day—in particular, its beautiful photos and important message—its medium-quality verse and somewhat undisciplined structure significantly detract from it.
If you would like more information about this picture book, click here to visit the One Child, One Planet website. Or, click here to visit a public library page with a long list of suggested picture books for Earth Day. If you would like to purchase One Child, One Planetwe encourage you to support our work by purchasing it through the links in this post.