The best picture books that show kids how we’re all connected

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, my father was a biologist and my mother was a children’s librarian, so I suppose it’s no surprise that I’ve become a children’s book author who writes about valuing the planet where we we live. I’ve always had a deep love of reading and some of my most cherished childhood memories are of walking through the woods behind our house, with one parent or another identifying the plants, animals, amphibians, birds, and insects that shared our land. My very first piece of writing was a poem about an owl that I wrote in first grade, and now all these years later, I’m still reading, writing, and recommending books that celebrate our marvelous world.

I wrote...

This Is the Planet Where I Live

By K.L. Going, Debra Frasier (illustrator),

Book cover of This Is the Planet Where I Live

What is my book about?

This picture book celebrates and honors the interconnectedness of everything here on planet Earth.

The planet where we live is full of people, animals, insects, birds, trees, clouds, rain, oceans—and everything is interconnected. With a cumulative text and rich, highly-detailed collages, this book is a joyous ode to our wondrous planet.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of All the World

K.L. Going Why did I love this book?

This is my all-time favorite picture book. I love books that inspire readers to think “big” – to consider how we’re all connected to each other and to the world around us.

The text of All the World is simple and lyrical, a beautiful poem that could stand on its own, but then you add in Marla Frazee’s gorgeous illustrations, and it’s a perfect match. I’ve read this book countless times, and every time I read it, I tear up. There’s hope, beauty, and wonder all portrayed in this amazing book. 

By Liz Garton Scanlon, Marla Frazee (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

All the world is here. It is there. It is everywhere. All the world is right where you are. Now. Following a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning till night, this endearing picture book affirms the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to warm family connections, to the widest sunset sky.

Book cover of Before We Eat: From Farm to Table

K.L. Going Why did I love this book?

Kids can connect to the world in many ways, and this book peels back the layers of how food arrives on our table.

It’s not at all preachy, instead, the text centers around gratitude as we think about the people who grow, fish for, and harvest our food, the animals who provide for us, those who pack the crates and drive the trucks for transport, the clerks at the store, and even the person who shopped for and prepared the meal.

I also love the illustrations. This is a lovely book that will make you grateful to sit down and eat.

By Pat Brisson, Mary Azarian (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Before We Eat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Before we eat, many people work very hard-planting grain, catching fish, tending farm animals, and filling crates of vegetables. With vibrant illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian, this book reminds us what must happen before food gets to our tables to nourish our bodies and spirits.

This expanded edition of Before We Eat includes back-of-book features about school gardens and the national farm-to-school movement.

Fountas & Pinnell Level L

Book cover of Over and Under the Pond

K.L. Going Why did I love this book?

Okay, I suppose I’m cheating a bit by choosing this title as a representative of an entire series! Honestly, I love the Over and Under series because each book makes us think about the different layers of life.

What can we see? What can’t we see? Reading these books will make readers curious about the world. What a great way to introduce ecology to young audiences. I love the illustration style as well; the pictures are magical. Overall, I love the concept of peering past what we can see on the surface of things.

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Over and Under the Pond as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

A follow up to Over and Under the Snow and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, this time focusing on the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. As parent and child launch a canoe from the muddy shore and paddle through water lilies, they see frogs jump and painted turtles slide off logs, disappearing beneath the murky water. What's happening down there? Under the pond, leeches lurk, crayfish scuttle under rocks, nymphs build intricate shells, and microscopic animals break down fallen leaves to recharge the water with nutrients. Over the pond, fuzzy cattails sway in the…

Book cover of Thank You, World

K.L. Going Why did I love this book?

This book has a lot of the qualities I love in a picture book: it has a simple yet meaningful text, colorful illustrations with plenty of details, and a message about connection and gratitude. What more could you ask for?

The reason I end up sharing this book again and again when I do read alouds with young children is the eight panel layout on each double page spread, where each panel represents a different part of the world, so children see the same experience portrayed in multiple ways. The pictures are so detailed they invite you to study them and compare one panel to the next.

By Alice B McGinty, Wendy Anderson Halperin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thank You, World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Thank you, breeze, for lifting up my kite wings past treetops tall and proud.

Thank you, trees. Your branches are my playhouse. I'm climbing to the clouds!

Eight very different kids, from eight different continents, all go about their day and experience the same moments of happiness: greeting the sun in the morning, swinging on a swing, flying a kite, being tucked in by Mommy at bedtime. 

Uplifting and narratively rich, this audiobook reminds us that the world isn't as large as it seems and that life's greatest pleasures are the simple ones.

Book cover of If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People

K.L. Going Why did I love this book?

Believe it or not, this is a book I’ve used successfully in the classroom with teenagers!

The premise is that if we shrank the world down to just 100 people, we could then see what percentages of people shared nationalities, languages, school systems, types of jobs, etc. Or we can see who uses certain resources or has different possessions.

What I like about this book is that it’s impossible to wrap our minds around numbers in the millions and billions, but by breaking huge statistics down to just factors of 100, we can understand these concepts that illuminate how we’re sharing the planet. Kids love this book!

By David J Smith, Shelagh Armstrong (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If the World Were a Village as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This is the new paperback edition of a beautiful and unique book, which explains facts about the world's population in a simple and fascinating way. Instead of unimaginable billions, it presents the whole world as a village of just 100 people. We soon find out that 22 speak a Chinese dialect and that 17 cannot read or write. We also discover the people's religions, their education, their standard of living, and much much more...This book provokes thought and elicits questions. It cannot fail to inspire children's interest in world geography, citizenship and different customs and cultures, whether they read it…

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