In honor of International Children’s Book Day on April 2, we asked Thea Feldman, animal-loving author and editor of children’s books, to compile a Top 10 list of books for children on animals and the environment.
By Thea Feldman
With thousands of new children’s book being published every year for kids of every age —from toddler to teenager — there’s no shortage of wonderful books about animals and/or the environment. The following list is by no means exclusive, but reflects a few favorite titles suggested by some folks who care about nature in all its forms and getting kids connected to it. Thanks go to a children’s librarian, a children’s book editor, a children’s book author, a humane educator and an environmentalist as well as to all the animal-loving kids and others who also offered up terrific suggestions.
Have a particular favorite of your own? We’d love to know what it is!
1. Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw/Henry Holt Publishers — A unique look at how one cat goes from life in a shelter to being adopted and getting integrated in his new family. Intended for kids 4 to 8, this book will make pet lovers of any age alternately laugh and cry, and truly experience the journey taken by one very unforgettable cat. The fact that it’s written in haiku makes it all the more extraordinary.
2. Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix/Gryphon Press — A deeply moving story told by Buddy the dog who is adopted from a shelter and into a loving family. He looks back at his previous life with a person who kept him chained in the yard and neglected. This book for 4 to 8-year-olds was the recipient of the 2006 ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award for best companion animal book of the year.
3. Go Home: The True Story of James the Cat by Libby Phillips Meggs/Albert Whitman Publishers — Based on the true story of a lost cat who eventually finds a new home, this picture book for kids 5-8 shows the importance of kindness and will open the eyes of young readers and their families to the plight of stray animals. The 2000 ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award winner for best nonfiction companion animal book of the year.
4. A Home for Dakota by Jan Zita Grover/Gryphon Press — A young dog rescued from a puppy mill is adopted into a loving family and helps a little girl heal from her own troubles in this charmingly illustrated, tender and loving picture book for children ages 5-8.
5. ASPCA Kids: Kids Making a Difference for Animals by Nancy Furstinger and Sheryl L. Pipe/Howell House — A humane how-to for kids ages 9-12 on what they can do to make a difference in the lives of animals from volunteering to fundraising.
6. Ten Things I Can Do to Help the World by Melanie Walsh/Candlewick Press — Pointers for preschoolers on how they can help save the planet, this book is a graphic delight with cutaway pages, lift the flaps, and more. It is also made from 100% recycled paper.
7. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown/Little Brown Publishers — A picture book for preschoolers that promotes the “greening” of even the most unlikely places, inspired by New York City’s Highline — a community garden and park built on an abandoned railway.
8. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss/Random House — Ahead of its time when originally published in 1971, this classic for 6 to 9-year-olds, offers a unique look at how greed and thoughtlessness can destroy the environment. An environmentalist consulted about this list cited The Lorax, which she first encountered as a child, as being a factor in her eventual choice of career!
9. Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green, edited by Dan Gutman/Yearling — Short essays that are a combination of personal experience and easy to follow tips for helping the environment pack the pages of this one-of-a-kind book for kids ages 8-12. The book is printed on a mix of papers, including recycled materials.
10. Crunch by Leslie Connor/Katherine Tegen Books at Harpercollins — A page-turning novel for kids ages 10 and up that takes a look at what happens when America temporarily runs out of gas one hot summer. It may sound like science fiction but it is a down to earth book that features a very real family at its core. There is no didactic messaging in this timely title.
What book is on your Top 10 list? Any essential books we’ve missed? Let us know. Post your comments here or on Facebook.