Celebrate Earth Day: Things to Do and Books to Read with Kids

Today is EARTH DAY!

As the warmth of springtime begins to surround us, let’s celebrate. It’s a great time for us to be mindful of the wonderful things the earth gives to us each and every day. Our gratitude could be as simplistic as the delightful way the banyan tree provides shade on a warm day or the appreciation you feel as you drink a glass of fresh, clean water.  If you are anything like my family, we are definitely grateful for  Mother Nature’s gifts of sweet mangoes right from our backyard tree as we lick the sticky juice dripping down our hands, while we rock on the swing that’s hanging from the fruit tree’s branches. Aaahhh, yes…that’s definitely the sign of summer.

Appreciating the earth also can be done with action. We talk quite a bit about compassion here at BrownSchooling. Having compassion for the earth requires us to make small changes in our daily lives that can ultimately have a large positive impact on  the environment. Being good stewards of the earth makes Mother Nature happy and in turn, she will continue to sustain and support our needs.

The following books are great read alouds to celebrate Earth Day with the family:

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia – the story of one girl, two crochet needs and hundreds of plastic bags changed a village [ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS, RECYCLING, INGENUITY].

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa – the story of one woman’s dreams of change changed her childhood home back to its green lands [AGENCY, ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, ACTIVISM].

The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle – the story of a recycled red bike that changed lives all around the world [RECYCLING, COMPASSION/EMPATHY, ALTRUISM]

The Earth Book – Todd Parr simple eco-friendly book, show kids small ways that an make a big in protecting the earth [ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS, MAKING A DIFFERENCE].

Thank you, Earth – a beautiful letter of gratitude to the earth written in poetic text, with beautifully moving photographs [APPRECIATION, GRATITUDE, MINDFULNESS].

Earth day is a wonderful way to get involved in environmental activism and ecology. Here are few ways that your family can begin to lighten your carbon footprint.

Eat Locally & more plant-based.

Eating locally is a great way to eat seasonally, which lowering your carbon footprint, lessons the burning of fuel, which releases emissions into the atmosphere.  Try buying items from the local green/farmers market or an urban garden where your children may be able to actually pick their food right from the earth. Let each of the kids select a food item to purchase and get creative with ways to use all of the items for dinner tonight! Another more long-term idea is to join a food co-op. It’s a great way to get kids to try unusual fruits and vegetables. Also, did you know giving up one day of meat lessens greenhouse gases and fossil fuel and conserves water? Join the Meatless Monday Revolution! Your body and the earth will love you for it.

Keeping the home more environmentally-friendly

Work together with your family to make changes in your own environement.  There are many ways we make big differences right in our own homes:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Make sure washing machines and dishwashers are full before starting (that’s NEVER a problem in my house of seven!)
  • Make sure appliances are unplugged when not in use
  • Use recycled bags when shopping
  • Use glass instead of paper straws when needed (I’m thinking about those yummy green smoothies that you are going to make in honor of Earth d=Day!)
  • Use cloth instead of paper napkins (or at least only use one at a time)
  • Turn off the sink when you are brushing your teeth
  • Less in the garbage, more in the recycle bin
  • Walk and ride bikes more

Also, go to your favorite outdoor space (beach, nature trail, local park, etc.) and help pick up any litter. Leave the place a bit better than how it was when you arrived!


Be proactive with your recycling waste                                                                 

Have your family brainstorm ways you all can more effectively recycle and reduce waste. How can you take what you are already doing and do a little more. If you currently recycle what about starting a compost? Or recycle rain water? Recycling, reusing, and reducing items that you no longer use will actually help you save money. For instance, if you have old sports equipment [raising my hand here] that  the family doesn’t use anymore you can recycle, repurpose or resell it. If you resell it, use the money for a family-focused and earth-friendly activity. What about starting a potted or herb garden on your back patio or get rid of bottled water and purchase a set of reusable sports water bottles instead.  If you don’t want to sell it your items, donate them  to local organizations. There are many kids who would love to have that extra soccer ball or football that’s hanging out in back of the closet or in the garage.

Write letters to your local government

There are too many buildings going up and not enough natural habitats being preserve. If you see far too many high-rises or shopping plazas popping up in your community don’t be afraid to speak up. You can collect signatures from other like-minded environmentally-friendly neighbors to sign a petition that calls for less building in your city. You can also write a letter directly to the mayor of your town letting her know that you are a concerned citizen (or in your child’s case, a future voter ) who wants the preserves to remain a green space for animals and humans to enjoy.

How will you and your family celebrate Earth Day? What one thing will you commit to doing a little be more often or a little bit better? Leave your comment below.

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