Books

20 Canadian books for kids to read for Earth Day 2022

Here's a reading list of 20 books for children with themes of the environment, animals, climate change and more.

Earth Day is celebrated around the world on April 22. Here's a reading list of 20 books for children with themes of the environment, animals, climate change and more.

Martin and the River by Jon-Erik Lappano, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon

Martin and the River is a picture book by Jon-Erik Lappano, left, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon. (Groundwood Books)

In this poetic story about the relationship between children and the natural world, young Martin is faced with moving away from his beloved river in the countryside. When he visits the city with his parents to explore their new home, none of its charms can compare with the river. But when he encounters a stream running through the park, Martin discovers that his connection with nature can be just as wondrous in the city.

Martin and the River is for ages 3 to 6.

Jon-Erik Lappano is a children's book author from Ontario. His picture book, Tokyo Digs a Garden, won the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustration.

Josée Bisaillon is a children's book writer and illustrator based outside Montreal. Her other books include Leap! written by JonArno Lawson, and The Snow Knows written by Jennifer McGrath.

Sing in the Spring! by Sheree Fitch, art by Deb Plestid

Sing in the Spring! is a picture book by Sheree Fitch, illustrated by Deb Plestid (not pictured). (Nimbus)

Sing in the Spring! is a poetic celebration of the season when flowers bloom. The book looks at all the weather changes that spring brings, including melting snow, blowing winds, dripping rain. The book is about budding flowers, muddy puddles and the joy the season brings. 

Sing in the Spring! is for ages 4 to 8.

Sheree Fitch is the author of more than 25 books, including Kiss the Joy As It Flies. Her children's books include Mabel Murple and young adult novels, like The Gravesavers. She received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People in 2000.

Deb Plestid plays with fabric, thread, and paint. Her eye is drawn mostly to nature, mathematics, light and shadow; exploring colours, textures and life. Her work is in collections in North America, Europe  and the Middle East. Her singular pleasure is eliciting a smile with her work.

Ben the Sea Lion by Roy Henry Vickers

Ben the Sea Lion is a picture book by Roy Henry Vickers. (Harbour Publishing)

Ben the Sea Lion was inspired by an adventure from Tsimshian storyteller and artist Roy Henry Vickers' own childhood in the Indigenous village of Kitkatla on B.C.'s north coast. When Uncle Johnny accidentally catches an orphaned sea lion pup in his fishing net, young Roy and his cousin Bussy nurse it back to health. They name the pup Ben, short for Teeben — the Tsimshian word for sea lion. But eventually Ben must return to the wild, leaving his human friends to remember him fondly.

Ben the Sea Lion is for ages 3 to 5.

Roy Henry Vickers is a B.C.-based carver, painter and printmaker. He is the co-author of the popular children's Northwest Coast Legends series: Raven Brings the Light in 2014, Cloudwalker in 2015, Orca Chief in 2016 and Peace Dancer in 2017.

Sun Wishes by Patricia Storms, illustrated by Milan Pavlović

Sun Wishes is a picture book by Patricia Storms, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic. (Groundwood Books)

The duo behind 2019's bedtime story Moon Wishes now turns to a daytime tale. This colourful picture book is a celebration of the sun as it shines around the world, lighting up the gloomiest skies, celebrating the harvest and delighting in the diversity of life all over the globe.

Sun Wishes is for ages 3 to 6.

Patricia Storms has worked as a short-order cook, a library technician, and a graphic designer, but her favourite thing to do by far is to make books for kids! She wrote and illustrated The Pirate and the Penguin and the much-loved Never Let You Go. She is the author of The Dog's Gardener, illustrated by Nathalie Dion, and collaborated with her husband, Guy Storms, to write Moon Wishes, illustrated by Milan Pavlović. 

Milan Pavlović is a Toronto-based illustrator, graphic artist and educator. He is the illustrator of several children's books in Canada, including The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud.

Nature is an Artist by Jennifer Lavallee, illustrated by Natalia Colombo Brown

Nature is an Artist is a picture book by Jennifer Lavallee, left, illustrated by Natalia Colombo Brown. (Greystone Kids, Domestika)

This picture book is for kids who love to draw and create, featuring craft ideas that also foster an appreciation for nature. In the book, a group of children get out into nature. As they witness beautiful landscapes and unusual creatures, they're inspired to create their own work of art. Nature is an Artist encourages kids to appreciate the art in their own outdoor environment.

Nature is an Artist is for ages 3 to 8.

Jennifer Lavallee is an author from the Canadian prairies where she lives with her busy family of five. An avid reader and crafter, Jennifer grew up experiencing all the wonder and beauty of nature, including the soaring Rocky Mountains, curious Alberta Badlands and lush boreal forests of the north. Nature is an Artist is her first book.

Natalia Colombo is a Brazilian illustrator and graphic designer whose picture books have been published in multiple languages around the world. Her book, Cerca, was awarded the first International Compostela Prize for Picture Books. 

Fresh Air, Clean Water by Megan Clendenan, illustrated by Julie McLaughlin

Fresh Air, Clean Water is a book by Megan Clendenan, left, illustrated by Julie McLaughlin. (Orca Book Publishers)

The nonfiction middle-grade book Fresh Air, Clean Water takes a look at how the health of people and the world around us are connected. The book features real-life accounts of people who are working to ensure that we all live in a healthy, clean and protected environment.

Fresh Air, Clean Water is for ages 9 to 11.

Megan Clendenan is a B.C.-based author who has worked for women's rights, mental health and youth empowerment nonprofits as well as for an environmental law group. She is the co-author of Design Like Nature and the author of Offbeat, a novel for young readers. 

Julie McLaughlin is the B.C.-based artist and illustrator of several books, including Little Cloud and The Art of the Possible. Her books have been nominated for several awards, and she won the 2015 Norma Fleck Award for Why We Live Where We Live.

Be a Camouflage Detective by Peggy Kochanoff

Be a Camouflage Detective is a picture book by Peggy Kochanoff. (Nimbus, Avai Kochanoff )

How do insects hide themselves in the woods? Why do hares change the colour of their fur depending on the season? Be a Camouflage Detective, Peggy Kochanoff's latest illustrated guide for readers, is a tour of the most common animal disguises and camouflages in Atlantic Canada and beyond — from the anatomy of a sea anemone to the dappled feathers of snowy owls.

Be a Camouflage Detective is for ages 7 to 12.

Kochanoff is a Nova Scotia-based author and illustrator of several books for children including the Be a Nature Detective series. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in vertebrate zoology and spent a summer working at the Central Zoo in New York City. 

The Wolf Mother by Hetxw'ms Gyetxw Brett D. Huson, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

The Wolf Mother is a nonfiction book for ages 9-11 by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw Brett D. Huson (above), and illustrated by Natasha Donovan. Brett can be found at @thegitxsan on Twitter. (Submitted by Highwater Press)

In The Wolf Mother, Hetxw'ms Gyetxw introduces young readers to a pack of grey wolves. New pups have just begun to open their eyes, one of which is a striking black female. As she learns to hunt, play and run with her pack, instinct pulls her to explore beyond her home territory. Will the young wolf's bold spirit help her find a new pack of her very own?

The Wolf Mother is for ages 9 to 12.

Hetxw'ms Gyetxw, also known as Brett D. Huson, is a writer from the Gitxsan Nation of the northwest interior of British Columbia.

Natasha Donovan is a Métis illustrator originally from Vancouver. She has illustrated several graphic novels, including the Surviving the City series by Tasha Spillet and Huson's animal series, which includes The Sockeye MotherThe Grizzly Mother and The Eagle Mother. She also illustrated the cover for The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills and her work appears in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold.

Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats by Cylita Guy, illustrated by Cornelia Li

Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats is a middle-grade book by Cylita Guy, left, and illustrated by Cornelia Li, right. (Annick Press, Travis Guy, JS Li)

Ecologist Cylita Guy shows how observing urban wildlife — from city bees to coyotes — can make cities a healthier environment for everyone in Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats. Guy highlights the fieldwork of 11 scientists, including herself, and demonstrates how social injustices, like racism, can impact how scientists study wildlife and where urban critters are more likely to thrive. 

Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats is for ages 9 to 12.

Guy is a Toronto-based ecologist, data scientist and science communicator who studies bats. 

Cornelia Li is a Chinese-born illustrator based in Toronto. 

I Hear You, Forest by Kallie George, illustrated by Carmen Mok

I Hear You, Forest is a picture book by Kallie George (left), iIllustrated by Carmen Mok. (Greystone Kids, Luke Spencer Byrd)

The picture book I Hear You, Forest surrounds young readers with the sights and sounds of the forest on a bright day. A child in the forest listens closely to the sounds that nature and the animals make. The soothing surroundings help the child learn more about the world around her.

I Hear You, Forest is for ages 3 to 7.

Kallie George is a Vancouver-based writer for children whose books include the Heartwood Hotel series and Anne Arrives.

Carmen Mok has illustrated numerous books, including Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, Look at Me Now by Carol McDougall and Shanda LaRamee-Jones and Ride the Big Machines in Winter.

Jigging for Halibut with Tsinii by Sara Florence Davidson & Robert Davidson, illustrated by Janine Gibbons

Jigging for Halibut With Tsinii is a picture book by Sara Florence Davidson & Robert Davidson, illustrated by Janine Gibbons. (HighWater Press, Farah Nosh, janinegibbons.com)

This picture book reflects the Haida Sk'ad'a Principles as it looks at Haida artist Robert Davidson's own experiences with Tsinii, or grandfather. Jigging for Halibut with Tsinii is a cultural look at a young boy, his grandfather and a day spent fishing using traditional methods.

Jigging for Halibut with Tsinii is for ages 6 to 8.

Sara Florence Davidson is a Haida/Settler author and assistant professor in Indigenous education at Simon Fraser University.

Robert Davidson is one of the most respected and important contemporary artists in Canada. A Northwest Coast native of Haida descent, he is a master carver of totem poles and masks and works in a variety of other media as a printmaker, painter and jeweller.

Janine Gibbons, a Haida Raven of the Double-Fin Killer Whale Clan, Brown Bear House, is a multi-disciplinary artist and illustrator. She has illustrated three books in the Sealaska Heritage's Baby Raven Reads series, including Raven Makes the Aleutians.

Little Narwhal, Not Alone by Tiffany Stone, illustrated by Ashlyn Anstee

Little Narwhal, Not Alone is a picture book by Tiffany Stone (left), illustrated by Ashlyn Anstee. (Greystone Kids, tanyaking.ca)

Little Narwhal, Not Alone is a picture book based on a true story involving a little lost narwhal and what he encounters along his journey. The story is about a little narwhal who finds himself far from home, too far to return on his own. The other animals he meets don't look like him at all, but he still tries to fit into his new surroundings as best he can. Little Narwhal, Not Alone features themes of belonging, community and acceptance. 

Little Narwhal, Not Alone is for ages 4 to 8.

Tiffany Stone is a children's poet and picture book author based in British Columbia. She was inspired to write Little Narwhal, Not Alone by her lifelong affinity with the North and by her volunteer work with new immigrants. 

Ashlyn Anstee is a Los Angeles illustrator who spent her summers on the Canadian west coast. 

Thunder and the Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos & Shezza Ansloos, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley

Thunder and the Noise Storms is a picture book by Jeffrey Ansloos, left, and Shezza Ansloos, middle, and illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley. (Annick Press, Meg Wallace)

In the picture book Thunder and the Noise Storms, children learn about the restorative powers of the natural world. Thunder often finds that the world around him can be too loud. When his grandfather asks him what he hears while on a nature walk one day, Thunder learns how the many different sounds of the natural world can have calming and empowering effects. 

Thunder and the Noise Storms is for ages 4 to 7.

Jeffery Ansloos is a Cree educator and psychologist. He is also the author of The Medicine of Peace.

Shezza Ansloos is a Cree writer, educator, artist and speaker. She is the author of two children's books, I Loved Her and The Fire Walker. Ansloos is also a singer-songwriter and visual artist.

Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley is an Anishinaabe artist and illustrator from Wasauksing First Nation. He is a self-taught artist who works in the Woodland art style of the Anishinaabe people.

The Case of the Shrinking Friend by Eric Hogan & Tara Hungerford

The Case of the Shrinking Friend is a picture book by Eric Hogan, left, and Tara Hungerford, right. (Firefly)

The Case of the Shrinking Friend is the latest book in the adventures of Scout and Daisy from the TV show Scout and the Gumboot Kids. The Case of the Shrinking Friend is a nature mystery that features a winter hike, a shrinking snowman and mindful exploration of their natural world.

The Case of the Shrinking Friend is for ages 4 to 7.

When you can read it: Oct. 21, 2021

Eric Hogan and Tara Hungerford are a Vancouver husband-and-wife team who run Imagine Create Media and are the creators of children's television series The Gumboot Kids

The Dancing Trees by Masiana Kelly, illustrated by Michelle Simpson

The Dancing Trees is a picture book by Masiana Kelly, left, and illustrated by Michelle Simpson, right. (Inhabit Media)

The picture book The Dancing Trees is a tale of Thomas, who loves to tell big stories. Taking the challenge to spend a night alone in the forest, Thomas heads into the wilderness and has a magical encounter with dancing forest trees that he will never forget.

The Dancing Trees is for ages 6 to 8.

Masiana Kelly is an Inuk/Dene writer based in Kugluktuk, the westernmost community in Nunavut.

Michelle Simpson is an Ontario illustrator and designer based out of Niagara Falls, Ont. 

I Sang You Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner, illustrated by Michaela Goade

I Sang You Down from the Stars is a picture book by Tasha Spillett-Sumner (pictured) and illustrated by Michaela Goade. (Leonard Sumner, Submitted by Tasha Spillett-Sumner, Owlkids)

I Sang You Down from the Stars is a story of birth and creation for younger readers. With poetic language and watercolours, the picture book uses Indigenous creation stories and traditional teachings to celebrate nature and the bond behind mother and child.

I Sang You Down from the Stars is for ages 2 to 5.

Tasha Spillett-Sumner is an educator, poet and scholar of Nehiyaw and Trinidadian descent.  She is also the author of graphic novel Surviving the Citywhich won the $2,000 Indigenous Voices Award for works in an alternative format in 2019.

Michaela Goade is an American-born illustrator from the Tlingit and Haida tribes. Goade won the 2021 Caldecott Medal for her illustrations in the book We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom.

We All Play by Julie Flett

We All Play is a picture by Julie Flett. (Greystone Kids)

We All Play is the latest picture book by Cree author and artist Julie Flett. Through colourful illustrations, We All Play explores an Indigenous perspective as it celebrates nature and how we are all connected. We All Play includes a glossary of Cree words for wild animals and children repeating a Cree phrase throughout the book.

We All Play is for children up to the age of 7.

Flett has illustrated several acclaimed picture books including Little YouMy Heart Fills with Happiness and We Sang You Home. She has twice won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustration: for On the Trapline and When We Were AloneFlett is also the author and illustrator of Birdsong.

Stand Like a Cedar by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Carrielynn Victor

Stand Like a Cedar is a picture book by Nicola I. Campbell (left) and illustrated by Carrielynn Victor. (Highwater Press, Nadya Kwandibens, Red Works Photography)

Stand Like a Cedar is a picture book about nature, animals and the wonder of the wilderness. It is an educational look at what it means to "stand like a cedar" and features the names of animals in the Nle7kepmxcín or Halq'emeylem languages.

Stand Like a Cedar is for ages 3 to 5.

Nicola I. Campbell is Nłeʔkepmx, Syilx and Métis from the Nicola Valley in B.C. She is also the author of Shi-shi-etko, Shin-chi's CanoeGrandpa's Girls and A Day With Yayah.

Carrielynn Victor is an artist and illustrator of Stó:lö, Coast Salish & settler heritage from the XwChí:yóm (Cheam) community in B.C. 

Nicola Campbell talks to Shelagh Rogers about Spilexm, a memoir in prose and poetry, and her children's book Stand Like a Cedar.

The Wind and the Trees by Todd Stewart

The Wind and the Trees is a picture book by Todd Stewart. (Owlkids)

The Wind and the Trees is a picture book about the wonders of nature. It's about a small pine seedling who gains wisdom and knowledge thanks to a nearby tree. As the tiny pine tree grows, the older tree speaks about the heavy wind that blows through the forest. The young tree learns about nature, wisdom and loss.

The Wind and the Trees is for ages 4 to 8.

Todd Stewart is a Montreal illustrator, children's book author and screen printer. The Wind and the Trees is his first picture book.

Treaty Words by Aimée Craft, illustrated by Luke Swinson

A nonfiction book by Aimée Craft, illustrated by Luke Swinson. (Annick Press)

Treaty Words is a book for ages 10 and up about the importance of understanding an Indigenous perspective on treaties. The book looks at the first treaty, the one between the earth and the sky. Sitting on the riverbank, a man teaches his granddaughter about the power of silence in nature — so that she might learn her standing in the world. 

Treaty Words is for ages 10 and up.

Aimée Craft is an Anishinaabe-Métis lawyer and author from Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba. She is an associate professor at University of Ottawa and a leading researcher on Indigenous laws, treaties and water.

Luke Swinson is a visual artist and illustrator with Anishinaabe roots from Kitchener, Ont. He is a member of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Aimée Craft talks to Shelagh Rogers about her book, Treaty Words: For As Long As the Rivers Flow.

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