Monday, August 2, 2010

Winning Kids: Little Nippers Top 10

Little Nippers Top 10
by Michelle Berg

Almost every day the media has a story about the environment: Global Warming; The Gulf Oil Spill; Contaminated Drinking Water…the list continues on and on. In an effort to learn more about ecology and to teach my children good habits, I embarked on a mission to find the 10 best children’s books on the subject. The following books are very entertaining and they all offer an excellent way to teach children (and adults) about the environment.

10. Recycled Crafts Box

Written and Illustrated by Laura C. Martin. Ages 9-12.

Milk Carton Cottages, Corrugated Castles and a Dancing Tin Can Man… these are just some of the great crafts found in the Recycled Crafts Box. Laura Martin wants to “make every day earth day” and she offers this book full of innovative craft ideas made of solely recycled materials. This book is a great resource for teachers and parents as it includes an interesting history regarding the inventions of; paper, plastic, metal and fabric and discusses how these inventions have contributed to the increasing waste on our planet. Additionally, it suggests great tips on how each of us can make a difference.
9. Wangari's Trees of Peace

Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. Ages 4-8.

Based on a true story, this book tells the tale of Wangari Maathai; an environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As a child Wangari lived in Kenya where there was rich soil and plenty of trees. As she grew she travelled to America and six years later returned to a home where the land was barren. All the trees and crops were chopped down to make room for buildings. Afraid that all of Kenya would become a desert, she decides to plant nine seedlings. And as the seedling grows, so do her plans! She plants a farm for baby trees and convinces the village women to also plant seeds until there are over 30 million trees where there had been none. A truly inspirational story that proves that even in the face of opposition, goodness can come.
8. The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

Written by Nuria Roca. Illustrated by Rosa M. Curto. Ages 4-8.

This book is perfect for teachers planning a Recycling unit because it effectively introduces environmental concepts. The author does a great job explaining the three R’s and words like “compost” and “landfill” in easy understandable definitions. Additionally, there are many pages throughout the text that would make for a great discussion at meeting time. For example: “How many objects on the right page may be used over and over?”
7. What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe?

Written and Illustrated by Anna Alter. Ages 4-8.

So what can you do with an old red shoe? How about transforming it into a planter? In this book, Anna Alter comes up with some very clever art activities reusing materials you can find right in your own home! Plus, she incorporates poems with each activity. Make stamps out of old flip flops or a holiday card out of used wrapping paper. With 13 different projects in all, teachers have enough material for 2 weeks! Your class can begin with the poem and finish with an activity. I highly recommend this book to experts and craft novices alike.
6. The Great Kapok Tree

Written and Illustrated by Lynne Cherry. Ages 4-8.
The Amazon Rainforest is oddly silent as a young man with an axe stands in front of the great Kapok tree. As he sets about his job he grows tired, rests under its shade and falls asleep. One at a time, the creatures that depend on the great tree approach the sleeping man and plead with him to spare their home. Although, narrated from the animals’ perspective, each page gives compelling reasons for conservation. Most convincing is the fact that “all living things depend on one another”. Cherry does a wonderful job defining the elements of the rainforest and her message speaks loud and clear. Her colorful drawings with subtle repetition in the text will engage even the youngest audience.
5. Just A Dream

Written and Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Ages 9-12.

Walter is a young boy who cares very little for the environment. He litters, does not recycle and has no respect for trees. However, his attitude changes when he has a dream about a future earth that is devastated by pollution. An extraordinary story with a strong message, this book is full of magic and wonder. In a manner that can only be expressed by a master like Chris Van Allsburg.
4. The Wump World

Written and Illustrated by Bill Peet. Ages 4-8.

Created in 1970 before the concern of pollution became prevalent, Bill Peet imparts a respect for the environment. The reader enters the world of the Wumps; a flock of contented animals living in grassy meadows among rivers, lakes and leafy green trees. All was well, until one day the Wump world was invaded by aliens called “Pollutians”. In almost no time at all, these aliens began building great cities with factories, towering smokestacks, streets and freeways. While the Wumps hid underground, trash from the Pollutians began gushing into rivers and lakes. The air quality eventually becomes unlivable and the aliens leave to find another planet. A delightful tale, The Wump World is sure to trigger compassion for animals and introduce environmental awareness.
3. The Wartville Wizard

Written and illustrated by Don Madden. Ages 4-8.

After spending countless days cleaning up litter from all the careless people in Wartville, Mother Nature grants this tired old man “power over trash”. This wizard then proceeds to teach the whole town a lesson by magically sending the litter he finds on the ground back to the original person who threw it. Soon almost all of the inhabitants of Wartville are covered with trash that is mysteriously stuck to them. It doesn’t take long, however, for the townspeople to get the message and promise to never litter again! The Wartville Wizard is a wonderfully humorous tale.
2. Michael Recycle

Written by Ellie Bethel. Illustrated by Alexandra Colombo. Ages 4-8.

This author/illustrator team truly gave us a gift with this tale of the young crusader, Michael Recycle. He is a green-caped superhero whose sole purpose is to teach people about recycling! Printed in an oversized format, the pages are abundant with brilliantly colorful and imaginative illustrations. Furthermore, I love that the author was able to make a serious subject fun with the rhyming narrative. This book would be a wonderful addition to any library.
1. The Lorax

Written and Illustrated by Dr. Seuss. Ages 4-8.

As with any book written by Dr. Seuss, The Lorax is very fun to read! Overflowing with quirky rhymes and a never ending use of silly words like gruvvulous, grickle-grass and ga-zump. However, this story comes with a lesson in conservation and greed! While the Onceler is busy making money chopping down trees, the Lorax is concerned with what the Oncelers factory is doing to his home. A marvelously entertaining story from beginning to end, proving once again that Dr. Seuss was a very gifted writer.
 Michelle Berg is a publisher and author for Little Nipper Books. Please visit her website:

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butterfly wishes and Wonderland Dreams said...

great list of books we love One Red Shoe

Anna Alter said...

I'm honored to see Old Red Shoe on your list!

Mystee said...

Great list of books.
Also, on my Cyber Writers entry...there is a giveaway for the book on my blog as well :)

Brimful Curiosities said...

For the longest time, my daughter wanted me to read What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe? at bedtime. She just loved that book.

Michelle Berg said...

I'm honored that you read my list! I'm using your book as part of my Earth Day curriculm in my classroom next month!