This recommended reading list includes diverse books for all ages that explore the beauty, history, and benefits of trees, including the significance of cherry blossoms in Japan and Washington, DC. It also features guides on North American trees and soil science, as well as inspiring stories of individuals working to protect and plant trees worldwide. These books encourage readers to deepen their appreciation for nature and consider their relationship with trees and the environment.
The cherry blossom has been a source of inspiration for centuries and remains an important symbol of spring worldwide. From traditional Japanese and Indian folk tales to the intriguing story behind Washington DC’s famous cherry blossom trees, these stories celebrate the beloved flower and its ability to unite people.
This unique collection of folktales, compiled by Rina Singh, encourages us to rethink our relationship with trees through the telling of fantastic tales filled with dancing palms, healing fig trees, and magical cherry blossoms.
By: Jill Esbaum Age Level: 6-9
In the style of the Picture the Seasons books, this book looks at the life cycle of a cherry tree, the history behind the gift of the Japanese cherry trees to our nation’s capital, and the association of cherry trees and spring. Vibrant scenes from the Cherry Blossom Festival and the flood of visitors to the Tidal Basin are balanced with shots of the natural beauty of these trees.
Illustrated by: Ju-Hong Chen Age Level: 6-9
Pioneering world traveller, writer, photographer, and peace advocate Eliza Scidmore dreamed of beautifying the nation’s capital, where she lived. Her dream became a reality in 1912 when, because of her years of persistence, cherry trees were planted across Washington, DC. This picture book for young readers tells an inspiring story.
By: Allen Say Age Level: 6-9
Spring had finally come, and everyone in the village was happy, despite being poor — everyone except the miserly landlord. Mumbling and grumbling, he sat alone, eating a bowl of cherries and glaring as the villagers sang and danced in the meadow. Then, quite by accident, he swallowed a cherry pit. The pit began to sprout. Soon the landlord was the wonder of the village — a cherry tree was growing on top of his head! What happened to the cherry tree and to the wicked landlord is a favourite joke in Japan.
By: Jake Raj Age Level: 9-12
Cherry blossom season is perhaps the most anticipated flowering every spring; the countless festivals are a testament to its perennial popularity. Award-winning photographer Jake Rajs captures the flower in its natural habitats the world over: from the delicacy of the single bloom to the lush beauty of an entire tree to the effect of sunlight and water on the blossoms’ petals. Supplemented with historical Japanese woodblock prints of the flower and quotes from such writers as Percy Shelley, Mark Twain, and haiku poet Basho, this keepsake volume will delight flower lovers everywhere.
Grandmother has a surprise for Mayumie — is it a visit to the zoo, a museum, or the big city? When they finally reach their destination, Mayumie understands what makes visiting a cherry blossom grove so special: the beautiful pink flowers only bloom once a year! Readers will be enchanted by the magic of the story and the illustrations that capture the stunning colors of the cherry blossom trees. An author’s note provides historical details, as well as information on the cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC.
Featuring more than 4,100 detailed paintings and five hundred maps, highlights the similarities and distinctions between approximately six hundred North American tree species. “An arrangement of hickory leaves is referred to as “unkempt.” The hawthorn trunk is “weakly ridged, often fluted.” The names of the trees are musical enough: shagbark hickory, blue gum eucalyptus, soapberry, umbrella magnolia. Each tree is identified by images of leaf, twig, flower, seed, fruit and bark, often with variations to account for the changes made by season and age. There is a map of where each tree grows, and physical descriptions, too, all condensed into a small space without looking cramped.”
By: John Muir Age Level: 15+ Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
John Muir, naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, left his home in Indiana at age 29 and “rambled” 1,000 miles through the woods of the southern US ending in Florida in 1867/68.
By: Jeannine Atkins Age Level: 6-9 Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Based on true events in northern India, this is the story of a little girl’s bravery. Distinctive color illustrations, inspired by Indian miniature painting, accompany the moving story.
“This moving depiction of ecological innovation centers on a project spearheaded by Dr. Gordon Sato to plant mangrove trees, which grow easily in salt water, in the village of Hargigo in the impoverished African nation of Eritrea. Graceful prose alternates with cumulative verse to relay the benefits that the trees provided for the community: ‘These are the fishermen/ Who catch the fish/ That swim in the roots,/ Of the mangrove trees.’ Resembling papier-mâché, Roth’s textural mixed-media collages become increasingly lively as the new ecosystem flourishes.” — Publisher’s Weekly
By: Jeanette Winter
“Wangari lives under an umbrella of green trees in the shadow of Mount Kenya in Africa.” So begins this tribute to Wangari Maathai, a young woman who saw deforestation turn the lush lands of Kenya into a barren desert. Wangari began to plant seedlings and encouraged the women around her to do the same. By 2004, 30 million trees had been planted and Wangari won the Nobel Peace Prize. Jeanette Winter skillfully presents both Wangari’s successes and challenges through spare text and bold illustrations. An author’s note provides additional information about Wangari’s life story.
Dig in to the wondrous world of dirt! In this introduction to soil, young science and nature lovers will discover the components of dirt, how it’s made, and how to maintain healthy soil for the environment. Alongside charming illustrations, award-winning author Natalie M. Rosinsky delivers fun, fact-filled text for an engaging read-aloud or beginning read-alone. Includes hands-on experiments!