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Kids' books offer activities, experiments or inspiration to live greener

Mark your calendars! April 22 is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Why not observe this occasion by reading up on ways that you can go green? The Fort Worth Library has picture and chapter books about kids who do their best to save the Earth, as well as books that give you tips on how to become more eco-friendly yourself.

For the very young

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World: Fun and Easy Eco-Tips

By Melanie Walsh

Candlewick Press, 2008

How can very small children help the Earth? Melanie Walsh shows you how in this attractive, kid-friendly picture book. Each eco-tip is featured on a two-page die-cut spread. The spread begins with the word "I." Lift the flap on each page, and find a suggestion like "make toys from things around the house" or "feed the birds in winter." Colorful acrylic illustrations with bold, simple lines complete the spread. Preschoolers will be delighted to learn how to help, and the illustrations will entice them to have you read this to them again and again.

What Planet are You From, Clarice Bean?

By Lauren Child

Candlewick Press, 2002

Clarice Bean enjoys learning about science, but she doesn't want to do her science project with classmate Robert Granger. She thinks his idea for an experiment is boring. (Who walks faster: a worm or a snail?) When she gets home, she finds her brother Kurt quite upset. He has camped out under a neighborhood tree that is scheduled to be chopped down. What happens next is pure hilarity, as Clarice and her family make signs that say "Free the Tree" and perch in the branches, protesting with Kurt and eating spaghetti marinara. When the local press shows up, Clarice has the environmental class project of her dreams. Lauren Child spices up this zany story with her trademark collage illustrations, which blend cartoonish pen and watercolor drawings with photos.

For elementary-age students

Judy Moody Saves the World!

By Megan McDonald

Candlewick Press, 2002

In this third installment of the popular series, Judy Moody is studying the environment in school, and she wants to save the world. The trouble is, she can't think of a good way to do it. She can't come up with a good design for the Crazy Strips Band-Aid contest. Her family doesn't appreciate her attempts to improve their recycling habits. She gets in trouble when she releases her brother's pet toad back into the wild. Everybody laughs at her when she tries to live in a tree like Julia Butterfly Hill. It's enough to put Judy in a real mood! But when Judy attempts to save the rain forest by hiding all the classroom pencils, she gets a great idea for a class recycling project that ends up making the entire school proud of her. Judy Moody is a funny character whose delightful antics are always a big hit with young readers.

Just Grace Goes Green

By Charise Mericle Harper

Houghton Mifflin, 2009

Grace Stewart, a lively third-grader, likes making lists, drawing and sharing adventures with her friend Mimi. In this installment of the popular series, Grace is excited when her teacher, Miss Lois, makes a big announcement: Her class is going green! What does that mean? Well, as Grace is quick to explain, this does not mean that they will all be dressing up like leprechauns, but that they will be learning new ways to recycle, save energy and take better care of the Earth. Grace faces two challenges in this book: Not only must she find one thing she can do to conserve resources (she decorates a plastic bottle to reuse daily), but she must help Mimi, who has lost her favorite stuffed animal to her visiting cousin Gwen. Fortunately, Grace's self-proclaimed superpower is empathy, and she soon develops a plan to help Mimi and Gwen that will save the Earth, too. Author Harper fills this charming book with Grace's childlike artwork, her droll observations presented as lists and quite a bit of excellent ecological information written in a way that young readers can enjoy and understand.

For older children

Save the Earth Science Experiments: Science Fair Projects for Eco-Kids

By Elizabeth Snoke Harris

Lark Books, 2008

Which country is the biggest creator of garbage and waste? How do cow burps affect the environment? Find the answers to these questions and more in this great collection of science experiments. Harper begins with a chapter that describes the ecological problems that threaten the Earth. She then offers step-by-step instructions on how to plan more than 20 projects. Learn how to harness energy from windmills, create your own recycled paper or test the ozone layer. This book offers older kids the chance to create winning science projects that will teach them about ecology in ways that are so much fun, the kids won't even realize that they're learning.

Hoot

By Carl Hiaasen

Yearling, 2002

Roy is used to being the new kid at school, but he still doesn't like it much, especially when a bully named Dana chooses him as a target. But then Roy sees a barefoot kid running away from the school bus, and he knows he's about to stumble upon a mystery. Why is that kid running away from the bus instead of going to class? Who has been vandalizing the construction site for Mother Paula's Pancake House? Who put alligators in the portable toilets, and why? As he investigates these matters, Roy learns that corporate developers are building over nests of burrowing owls. From then on, Roy and his friends scheme to save the owls, with high-action antics that are great fun to read. Hoot was the first book for children by renowned adult author Carl Hiaasen. It became a Newbery Honor book and was developed into a movie in 2006. If you enjoy this book by Hiaasen, try his other two novels about kids fighting to save the environment, Flush and Scat.

CLAIRE ABRAHAM IS A CHILDREN'S LIBRARIAN AT THE FORT WORTH PUBLIC LIBRARY. THESE BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT MOST LIBRARY BRANCHES.

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