Arbor Day was first observed in 1872 and has traditionally been celebrated on the last Friday of April.
A testament to beauty, nature, and environmental awareness, trees are the lifeblood of our existence so it makes sense to give them a day to celebrate.
Especially with kids, who are natural-born tree huggers, make sure to take them out this Friday to a local park, open space, or forest preserve and identify trees, or just enjoy their shade.
Another way is to find out more about trees through the power of reading. Given that trees ultimately are the natural resource that makes books happen, it seems fitting. Here is a list from the Barnes & Noble blog.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever, by H. Joseph Hopkins and Jill McElmurry
More than 100 years ago, pioneering heroine Kate Sessions began to change the landscape of San Diego, one tree at a time. This picture book follows the true story of the green-thumbed Sessions and her desire to see more greenery in her adopted home of San Diego. Her efforts turned the desert-like city into a garden-like oasis, and her inspiring biography may just inspire your little one to get outside and plant a tree of their own. Ages: 5-10 years.
I Can Name 50 Trees Today!: All About Trees, by Bonnie Worth, Aristides Ruiz, and Joe Mathieu
The Cat in the Hat will take your reader on a green adventure in typical Dr. Seuss style. Parts of trees are explored and types of trees are colorfully illustrated, in an approachable yet scientific way. With an estimated 750 types of trees in North America and about 100,000 types of trees around the world, this book touches on just a few to get your little learner started on understanding and identifying differences in nature’s tallest plants. Ages 5-8.
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest, by Lynne Cherry
Endangered rainforests have been a reality for some time now, and author/illustrator Cherry journeyed into the heart of the Amazon to write this book about a man who tries to chop down a giant kapok tree. As he rests, the creatures of the rainforest whisper to him that this is their home and all the living creatures need each other, including the tree. This is an excellent book to teach children about conservation and the importance of taking care of the earth’s resources. Ages 4-7.
A Tree is Nice, by Janice May Udry and Marc Simont
A Caldecott medal winner, this book is a great early reader to give your kids around Arbor Day. Exploring the many benefits of trees, this book uncovers some very realistic, and also humorous, purposes of trees. A tree is good for shade, great for climbing, and an excellent place to hide from dogs. After your child reads this book, they will be encouraged to plant their own tree and watch it grow over time. Ages 4-8.
Our Tree Named Steve, by Alan Zweibel and David Catrow
When a family builds a new house, a large tree on the property is spared and dubbed “Steve” by the youngest child. Over time, the tree serves as an important fixture for the family—acting as a laundry line, holding up a hammock, supporting the kids during their first crushes, and standing over them at family picnics. But when a bad storm falls on Steve while the kids are at their grandparents’ house, the father pens a letter to them and pays homage to all the wonderful things Steve has done for them. An excellent book for helping kids work through loss and understand how the things and people we love carry on in our memories. Ages 2 and up.
The Busy Tree, by Jennifer Ward and Lisa Falkenstern
Home is not just a house with a roof over a head; home can mean many things for many different creatures. For the animals in this book, that home is a tree. With beautiful illustrations and rhyming text, this story uncovers the activities that take place in a tree, from the roots to the branches and everything in between. Children will be fascinated by the number of animals that call this tree home, while also discovering the important role trees play in helping us breathe. Ages 4-7.
This environmentally-focused book features simple poems and uncomplicated illustrations to drive home the value of planting a tree. Focusing on two families that plant trees in two different parts of the world, the story follows along as the trees thrive and provide clean air, nourishment, and protection from the sun. As the trees flourish and grow, so do the families that planted them. The benefits of trees and the importance of nature are easily understood in this sweet story. Ages 5-8.
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
No tree round-up would be complete without Silverstein’s perfect, brilliant tearjerker, The Giving Tree. The tale of a boy, a tree, and the power of unconditional love, this book has been around for more than fifty years. The story follows the life of a boy as he grows from a child climbing his beloved tree, to an adult who neglects that very same tree. The Giving Tree teaches important lessons about what it means to be selfish—and selfless. It’s a beautiful tale for children to discover, and adults to rediscover at any age. Ages: 6-8 years.