Books take us on adventures that help our imaginations soar beyond our everyday lives. With Earth Day coming up on April 22, it’s the perfect time to teach kids about loving the planet and reminding them that they can take care of Mother Earth in so many ways. What better gift for your kiddo this Earth Day than a book that teaches them to be stewards for mother nature and empowers them to make a difference with their small hands every day? We’ve found heartwarming fiction and nonfiction gems paired up with real-life outings to help you explore nature with your kids. Click through the slideshow for a fun exploration, where reading and adventure go side by side.

Get Digging

Read this: Dig In, by Cynthia Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

Local mom, garden expert and teacher Cynthia Jenson-Elliott wrote this newly published picture book that presents an up-close look at the dirt and all its hidden treasures. Jenson-Elliott wants the book with its block art illustrations to give readers the feeling of the experience kids have while playing in the dirt. She hopes the book will “drive you outside.” The story follows a kiddo in the garden, shoes off, fingers dirty, finding creatures, planting, watering, and delighting in the mud. Simple, repetitive text is fun and accessible for beginning readers. Jenson-Elliott advises parents who want their kids to spend more time outside to think about what’s close, like your own backyard. “Make the space inviting for kids”, a place where kids can be messy, make mud pies, dig for worms.

Do This: Get gardening and play in the dirt at City Farmers Nursery. This garden wonderland is full of play, exploration, and a huge variety of plants and gardening gear. Wear sturdy shoes, visit the chickens, goats, and turtles, play on the swings and seesaw, pick up some organic veges and herbs for your garden and ask a question or two. Their friendly staff is well-trained and knowledgeable about all your garden needs.

Extra Credit: Be part of Jensen-Elliott’s campaign #1000HandsDigIn. Shoot a photo of your kids’ hands digging in the dirt and tweet it.

Photo: City Farmers Nursery via Yelp

What’s your favorite book that celebrates the earth? Do you have fun activities you do as a family?

— Cherie Gough