Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Can Save the Earth!

I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Little Green Books)

Author:  Alison Inches
Illustrator:  Vivian Garofoli
Grade Level:  Pre-School - Second Grade

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            I Can Save the Earth! is a children’s picture book that is part of a series of green books for green readers.  The purpose of this series is to educate children on what they can do to be more eco-friendly.  In this particular story, we meet Max the Little Monster.  Max is not aware that he has some pretty poor habits that are environmental nightmares.  Max likes to throw candy wrappers around, clog the toilet, overflow the sink, leave lights on, plays computer games all day long, just to name a few.  One day, Max causes a black out and Max soon realizes that everything in the world is really beautiful.  He starts a quest to protect everything he can in the world including the beaches and the parks.  He wants to spread the news so everyone can work together to keep the world beautiful.  At the end of the story, Max does such a great job at keeping the Earth clean that his name is changed to Max the Little Green Monster.

Element 5:

            I Can Save the Earth! is a great book that shows raising awareness (Element 5).  This book takes the issues of pollution, recycling and community responsibility and brings it into the children’s everyday lives.  Children can follow Max the Little Green Monster's journey to environmental awareness, from polluter to recycler.  Children can also learn tips on how they can become little green monsters themselves.  This book is a great precursor for children to take action and make a change.


            If the students would like to raise awareness around recycling, reducing, reusing and littering, a good activity is to create a recycle patrol.  The teacher will ask the students, “Do you think keeping Earth “clean and green” is important?”  Then invite them all to sit on the floor and conduct a read-aloud using I Can Save the Earth!  After the book is finished, the teacher could ask the students, “Have you ever wondered how much your class throws away in a month or a year? Do you think that anything you and your classmates throw away can be recycled?”  Tell the students that you will assign groups (based on different types of learners) to the “recycle patrol."  They will first conduct an experiment that will help them see what happens to the class trash and then find ways to recycle some of it.  They can set up a recycling center and keep track of how many items the class recycles in one day and one week (how many water bottles, pieces of paper, etc.).  They can also calculate estimations for one month and one year.

After the groups keep track of the items for one week, the next level would be to take action to their school community about their findings.  This would progress into Element 6-Taking Social Action.

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