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Earth Day Books for Upper Elementary

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out this post for several books you can share with your 4th and 5th grade students.

Sharing picture books and read alouds are a quick, efficient, and fun way to educate students on different topics including topics related to Earth Day. Here are a few Earth Day books for upper elementary students that you can read aloud this April that cover topics such as trees & forests, recycling, oceans & water, climate change, and endangered habitats. 

Many of these books are true stories of inspirational people who made a difference. The theme incorporated in many of these selections is great to show students that it only takes one person to start a movement.

(This blog contains Amazon Affiliate links, which means that Amazon throws a few pennies my way if you purchase something through that link at no additional cost to you.)

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out The Great Kapok Tree.

1. The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry


This classic book is a perfect Earth Day read aloud for upper elementary. The Great Kapok Tree is a story about a man who goes into the forest to cut down a tree. While he lays down to rest in the forest, the creatures that inhabit the tree come to whisper to him. They beg him to save their home. This book's theme is exactly what Earth Day is all about. 

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

2. The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins


This book shares the true story of Kate Sessions, an activist who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert to a city full of gorgeous parks and gardens. The Tree Lady is an inspirational story about following your dreams, using your talents, and staying strong in the face of adversity.

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out The Boy Who Grew a Forest.

3. The Boy Who Grew a Forest by Sophia Gholz


When Jadav Payeng was a little boy, he was distraught by the destruction and the deforestation of being caused in his on his island home in India's Brahmaputra River. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the story of he decides to turn things around. He began planting trees that ended up growing into 1,300 acres of forest filled with native plants and animals.

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out Wangari's Trees of Peace.

4. Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter


Wangari's Trees of Peace is a true story about Wangari Maathai who was an environmental and political activist in Kenya and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As a young girl, she grew up surrounded by trees. She left Kenya and returned years later shocked to realize that many of the trees had been cut down. She decides to do something about and starts with planting some seeds in her yard. Wangari's Trees of Peace is a great book to compare and contrast with The Boy Who Grew a Forest.

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out The Camping Trip that Changed America.

5. The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock


The Camping Trip that Changed America tells the story of when Theodore Roosevelt went camping with naturalist John Muir. He was in awe of the great sights he saw while also becoming concerned when he realized that trees were being cut down. These sights along with discussions between the two men led to the establishment of National Parks.

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay.


6. Ada's Violin by Susan Hood


Ada's Violin tells the story of a girl whose neighborhood was built on a landfill. Almost everyone that Ada knows work as sifters in the landfill looking for things they can sell. Ada has a passion for music, so her grandmother signs her up for music class. When the teacher realizes that there will not be enough instruments for everyone, she gets creative and makes instruments out of trash. Ada masters her instrument and begins to receive worldwide recognition. This is a great story about resourcefulness and determination. 

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out One Plastic Bag: Isatou Cessay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia.

7. One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul


One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia is an inspirational true story about one African woman who starts a movement to recycle when she sees plastic bags begin to pollute her community. 

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff.

8. All That Trash by Meghan McCarthy


All That Trash tells the story of a garbage barge that traveled over 6,000 miles because it couldn't find a place that would welcome it. It started a recycling movement in the United States. 

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out We are Water Protectors.

9. We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom


We are Water Protectors is a book inspired by the many movements led by the Indigenous People in the United States. The book is a call to protect our planet and our water. This book is a good option for teaching symbolism as it refers to keeping a "black snake" away from the water.

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau.

10.  Manfish by Jennifer Berne


Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau tells the story of how Jacques Cousteau became curious about the ocean when he was younger. This curiosity led him to help invent the aqualung, a device that would allow him to go deeper into the ocean and stay there longer. He brought footage of his adventures to landgoers through films. He later discovered what was happening to the seas as a result of pollution and made people aware of the effects.

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out Rising Seas: Flooding, Climate Change and our New World

11. Rising Seas by Keltie Thomas


Rising Seas: Flooding, Climate Change and Our New World discusses the effects of climate change and shows images of the world may look like if the water continues to rise at the rate it has been. This book makes a great scaffold for comparing and contrasting what the world looks now and may in the future. Discussions can then continue onto what the forests may look like, mountain ranges, etc. 

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge.


12. The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole


The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge is another book that discusses global warming and its effects. As always, Joanna Cole uses language that students can understand and makes it engaging through a field trip with Ms. Frizzle. 

Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out Wild World.

13. Wild World by Angela McAllister


The book Wild World will speak to the heart of many ELA teachers. It highlights the different habitats around the world through poems. It expresses the fragility of many of the habitats and how we can serve to help maintain them. The illustrations are colorful and eye-catching as well.

Other Earth Day Activities


If you're looking for other Earth Day activities to share with your students, there is a fun activity that encourages students to make games and other resources using recycled materials. It's a great follow up activity to an Earth Day read aloud.



I hope some of these suggestions for Earth Day books for upper elementary have helped you find books you can share that are geared more towards 4th and 5th graders. Do you have any other favorite Earth Day book titles you love to share with your students? Let us know in the comments below, my Co-Teacher.


Looking for Earth Day books for upper elementary? Check out this post for several books you can share with your 4th and 5th grade students.


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