Children’s Literature and Guided Questions


Picture Book K-3

Mama Miti:  Wangari Maathi and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Kadir Nelson  (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2010)


Wangari’s Tree of Peace by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2008)

Summary:  Two books about the same subject—Wangari Maathi  returns to Kenya and discovers that her once tree-laden country is now barren and dry.  This is the story of how one woman led a country from the brink of starvation and desolation back to life.



1.   Why are trees so important?

2.   What are some ways that you can help the earth?

3.   What do you like most about being outside?  How would you feel if you couldn’t do it?  Why might you not be able to do it?

4.   What words would you use to describe what Mama Miti did?  If someone wanted to know why she was important, what would you say?

5.   What are the most important things outside where you live? 

For Grades 4-7


Wump World by Bill Peet (Houghton Mifflin, 1970)

Summary:  A parable about the need to take care of the Earth, as told through the lens of life on another planet.

1.   Why are Wumps and the Pollutians used as characters on another planet to explain the need for conversation?  Would the story have been as effective if it had been set on Earth?

2.   The book was written in 1970 , the year of the first Earth Day—to help teach people to take care of the Earth.  Why do you think some people didn’t think we need to care about the Earth?

3.   What are some things you see wasted today?  How can we do better?

4.   The link provides a history of recycling.   In 1971, Oregon was the first state to charge a refundable bottle deposit so that people should recycle bottles.  Should we do that everywhere? What else would do you think we could charge a deposit for so that people would recycle.

5.   What do think happens to the Wumps? The Pollutians?

Other worthy books:

Grades K-3 One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Millbrook Picture Books,2015) A girl Ceesay decides to find a better use for the plastic bags that are thrown everywhere and killing the goats.

Grades K-3: The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella and illustrated by Simone Shin(CitizenKid, 2015) When you outgrow your bicylcle what should you do with it?  The story of one bicycle that made many rounds—around t the world.

Grade K-3: Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World  by Laurie Lawlor and Laura Beingessner (Holiday House, 2012)  The story of environmentalist Rachel Carson who overcame a lot to change the world.

Grade 4-Up: here The Wisdom Lies: A Message From Nature's Small Creatures by Hope Mauran (Holiday House, 2006)  A young girl is magically transported to be with a council of animals who talk to her about the Earth.

Grades 4-7: World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky and illustrated by Frank Stockton (Turtleback Books, 2014)  Why fish matter to the planet and what we can do about it.

Grades K-3: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1971)  Why it’s important to care about the planet.

Grades 3-5: How the World Works: A Hands-On Guide to Our Amazing Planet  by Christian Dorian and illustrated by Beverly Young (Explore the Earth, 2010)  Things to know about how the planet works, like carbon footprint, food chains, and the greenhouse effect.

Grade 5 and Up The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe (Scientists in the Field Series) by Loree Griffin Burns and illustrated by Ellen Harasimpwicz Paperback – April 16, 2013 by Loree Griffin Burns (Author),‎ Ellen Harasimowicz (Illustrator)  Why bees matter to our world.

Grades 2-6 Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2003) The biography and story of the migrant farmer who organized the march for better working conditions for migrant farmers in California

Grade 5-8: Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Scientists in the Field Series)  by Loree Griffin Burns (HMH Books for Young Readers,2010) Why we need to protect the oceans and the data of tracking the garbage in it.