Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating Earth Day with Poetry (ages 5-10)

Many poets find great joy in celebrating the Earth and it's many creatures. A wonderful way to honor Earth Day on April 22nd is to share a selection of poetry with your children. I'm especially happy to share three poems today, both new and old.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes
by Julie Fogliano
illustrated by Julie Morstad
Roaring Brook / Macmillan, 2016
Your local library
ages 7-10
*best new book*
Fogliano celebrates the gentle movement of the seasons with this beautiful collection of free verse poems. I love how she captures the wonder and joy children feel as they watch crocuses peek out “just like / a tiny blue hello” or flowers “lean / and bend toward the light” on a spring day.
"lilac sniffing
is what to do
with a nose
when it is may
and there are lilacs
to be sniffed"
Julie Morstad's artwork complements Fogliano's poetry, highlighting the delicate beauty of earth throughout the seasons. Children will notice that many of the poems are written as a journal from the girl on the cover, although she is never named and this isn't a journal with a story. Other pictures feature different children, perhaps her friends or perhaps other narrators.

Here is a poem perfect for Earth Day:
june 10

i don't know much about flowers
i don't know their names
or how they like to grow
in sun or shade
in morning or night
i don't know where they began
or how they traveled
by boat or by bird
and whether or not the rain makes them shiver or bloom
but i know how they lean
and bend toward the light
wide open as if singing
their voices (silent but everywhere)
fill up the daytime
a song much more than purple
and beyond every red
a song that makes me stop and listen
and forget
and not care at all
that i don't know much
about flowers.
-- by Julie Fogliano, When Green Becomes Tomatoes
This is a collection that I will enjoy dipping into time and time again, savoring phrases and images. It is definitely my favorite new poetry collection this year.

I'd also like to share a collection of poems I checked out to a family today. Francisco Alarcón celebrates the seasons in four collections of bilingual poems that have great kid appeal.
Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems
Jitomates Risueños y otros poemas de primavera
by Francisco Alarcón
illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Children's Book Press, 1997
Your local library
ages 5-8
Alarcón shares short, accessible poems, creating snapshots of children's daily lives. They are full of warmth, family love and laughter--as you would expect from the delightful title. Maya Christina Gonzalez's exuberant illustrations help draw children to this book, setting the joyful tone right from the start.

I'm so happy this bilingual collection continues to appeal to children and families. The poem "Morning Sun" makes me smile, and reminds me that there is joy all around us.
Morning Sun

warming up
my bed
in the morning

the Sun
calls me
through the window

"wake up
get up
come on out"
--by Francisco Alarcón
"Morning Sun"
Finally, I'd like to share a poem "Earth Day" by Jane Yolen that is reprinted on the Poetry Foundation website.

The Poetry Foundation website is a treasure trove of information. The foundation "is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience."

Earth Day
by Jane Yolen

I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.

And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here

That’s why we
Celebrate this day.
That’s why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
I hope you enjoy sharing a few poems on Earth Day.

Julie Fogliano, "june 10" from When Green Becomes Tomatoes. Copyright © 2016 by Julie Fogliano. Illustration copyright © 2016 by Julie Morstad. Reprinted by permission of Macmillan. Francisco Alarcón, "Morning Sun" from Laughing Tomatoes. Copyright © 1997 by Francisco Alarcón. Illustration copyright © 1997 by Maya Cristina Gonzalez. Shared with permission from Lee and LowBooks. Jane Yolen, "Earth Day" from The Three Bears Holiday Rhyme Book. Copyright © 1995 by Jane Yolen. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The review copy of When Green Becomes Tomatoes was kindly sent by the publisher, Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. I have "When Green Becomes Tomatoes", a beautiful new book, I agree. Thanks also for sharing "Laughing Tomatoes", will look for it!

  2. Love both books and have reviewed both at my blog. Thanks for sharing Jane's poem too -- perfect!! Happy Earth Day!

  3. Great post for Earth Day. Wonderful poems by Jane Yolen and Francisco Alarcón.

  4. Also am a When Green Becomes Tomatoes fan. We are big on celebrating spring here in New England where it's been slow coming.