In honor of Arbor Day this week, here is a collection of some of my favorite tree-themed arts you can share with your preschooler.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is fifty years old this year and is still a beautiful story of what it means to give selflessly and to love without expectation of return. But I think that the is the simple line drawings that are capable of conveying a variety of emotions. I also like how the story leaves itself open for interpretation and discussion. Is it really the best idea to give and give and give? Is it kind of the boy to just take and take and take? What does it mean to love someone else?
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert is another book that provides beautiful simple illustrations to capture your child’s imagination. This is because the illustrations are crafted from cut paper, something a preliterate toddler with less developed fine motor skills can still accomplish simply by rearranging paper scraps. The story itself provides helpful education information about the natural cycles of life as the author describes how her maple tree changes from one season to another.
Fernando’s Gift by Douglas Keister may be enjoyed by preschool children ages three and up. This story tells the tale of a little boy named Fernando Vanegas. He is lucky to live deep inside the dense rain forest of Costa Rica. One day, Fernando and his best friend Carmina run out to play and decide to go to their favorite climbing tree, but the tree has been cut down. Carmina is so upset that Fernando decides to give Carmina a tree for her birthday. The book is full of beautiful photographs from the Costa Rican forests and encourage your child to want to know more about the rain forest.
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire Nivola is a nonfiction story suitable for preschoolers ages four and up. It tells the inspiring story of a woman who felt bad about the lack of trees in Kenya. She knew once upon a time Kenya had many trees, but now most of them were gone. She decided to do something about that. So, she began talking with friends and neighbors about all the harm caused by the loss of forest and encouraged many of them to begin planting trees. What this story demonstrates for children is the power of a single voice to make a difference.
Kindergarten and above
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers is also a story about the dangers of deforestation but this one is fiction and intended to be humorous. Told from the perspective of animals who suddenly start noticing the trees are disappearing from their forest, it is, of course, necessary for them to track down the thief. While funny, the story encourages children to consider the environmental impact of forest loss from a different perspective in a way that encourages them to consider multiple perspectives while dealing with a problem.