21 February 2018
Ahead of World Book Day on 1 March, Emma Atkins shares some of her top tree and woodland books for both adults and children.
By Emma Atkins
World Book Day is a UNESCO-recognised annual celebration of books around the world. Over 100 countries take part with the aim to inspire children to get into reading - however that doesn’t mean adults can’t take part too!
To celebrate World Book Day, here are my top 6 books centring on trees or forests. What better way to commemorate the day than to dig into books about the trees that enrich our world?
Go Wild in the Woods by Goldie Hawk - Perfect for a child’s rucksack, this pocket-sized handbook introduces children to the great outdoors and adventuring in the woods. From starting fires, to building shelters and making drinking water out of wee, this book is never short of fun ideas, entertaining facts and games for children keen to get out and exploring. Packed with engaging illustrations too!
The Lorax by Dr Seuss - A timeless children’s story with a serious message about the implications of deforestation, Dr Seuss’s signature rhymes and nonsense words guide you through the tale about the Lorax’s struggles in saving the Truffula Trees from the greedy Once-ler. An enjoyable fable with numerous metaphors and dazzling drawings, the Lorax is a must-read for children who like a good story.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story From Africa by Jeanette Winter - There have been other books centring on this inspiring true story (see Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola and Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World written by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler), about Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and later Nobel Prize winner who started planting trees after seeing her country suffer from mass deforestation. This book is probably most accessible for younger readers, with gorgeous illustrations, teaching them about the power of determination and community, and how one person can change the world.
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett- “As the cauldron bubbled an eldritch voice shrieked: ‘When shall we three meet again?’ There was a pause. Finally another voice said, in far more ordinary tones: ‘Well, I can do next Tuesday.’” If you prefer fiction, you can’t go wrong with Pratchett’s ingenious Discworld series. Wyrd Sisters is a hilarious fantasy novel, featuring witches, kings, murders and the magical world of the wooded Ramtop Mountains. Its satirical mash up of Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, enchanted forest and all, is unputdownable fun.
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman - A combination of fact and fiction, this book considers what would happen to the world if the human race was suddenly wiped out. In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman uses both science and speculation to envisage the turbulent fallout of mankind’s disappearance – from the flooding of Manhattan’s subways to the petrochemical nuclear winter in Texas – and then the slow, steady return of nature. With trees and wildlife taking over iconic concrete cities, the evolution of polymer-eating bacteria decomposing the billions of tonnes of plastic waste and the vicious end of domestic animals by wild predators, morbid fascination and poetic literacy takes you on an intriguing journey.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst - It is likely that you have seen this book before – on prominent shelves in bookshops or on various lists of recommended reading. The book lives up to the hype – an astounding exploration of the secret complexities of trees and woodlands, written by a German ex-forester. Did you know that tree roots join up and share nutrients? Did you know that trees send distress signals to warn others of predators? Read this book and you will never look at trees the same way again.