Without group gatherings this year, your family’s Earth Day celebration will most likely happen at home. We’re happy to share a charming new book for kids that addresses an environmental issue in a subtle, non-preachy way: Kaia and the Bees.
This year happens to be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But just because you can’t attend a group gathering, you can still get outside with your kids to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. This Earth Day book spotlight on Kaia and the Bees offers a wonderful way to encourage an interest in bees and the important role they play in our environment.
If we want our children to grow up protecting nature, we have to get them outside where they can fall in love with it first. So while upcycled crafts are a fun idea, don’t just sit inside and make them! Take those projects outside where you can be a little messier and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. If you need more inspiration, check out this list of outside activities for Earth Day.
The same goes for books. Make some healthy snacks, lay a blanket in the grass or under a favorite tree, and read together.
KAIA AND THE BEES
The Earth Day book that has stolen our hearts this year is Kaia and the Bees. Written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Angela Dominguez, this book is sweet, thoughtful, empathetic, and inclusive.
Here’s the synopsis:
Kaia is the brave type. Like the hottest-hot-pepper brave. But there is one thing that scares her – BEES! And right now, thousands of bees live on her roof because Kaia’s dad is a beekeeper. Her dad says that the world needs bees and that’s why they are beekeepers. But only he goes on the roof – not Kaia. Can she find a way to be the brave girl she always says she is?
This story doesn’t preach about environmentalism. It’s mostly about Kaia overcoming her fear of bees (which is warranted because she once was stung by a bee).
As Kaia learns about pollinators from her beekeeper dad, so do we. We also get to see an example of how people who live in the city can tackle environmental problems. Traditional children’s books would probably set this bee hive in the country. Part of what makes this a great Earth Day book is how it opens up the conversation for how families in urban areas can garden, compost, conserve resources, and more.
Kaia shares what she knows with her friends Hector and Marcella. They’re impressed that Kaia is a beekeeper. Kaia likes the attention and doesn’t come clean about her fear of bees, but she tells the reader it makes her feel “twisty inside because I’m not”.
One hot day they’re all playing in the hydrant water and a bee lands on Kaia’s arm. When her friends see how she reacts they say, “Real beekeepers don’t freak out over one little bee!” So she decides it’s time to face her fears. She summons up her courage and asks her dad to take her on the roof with him.
Her dad is patient and encouraging, and Kaia has a fun experience with the bees until she takes off her glove and gets stung… again.
Understandably, once again – Kaia wants no part of the roof or the bees.
Later, when it’s time to harvest the honey, Kaia agrees to be involved in the non-bee parts. This is a really fun section of the book where Kaia realizes how a tiny insect can create such golden, sweet goodness.
She’s putting away more honey when her parents have left the kitchen and suddenly she spies two bees near the window. Her impulse is to run for a swatter and wrap herself in a towel. Watching the bees, Kaia has a moment of empathy as she realizes they don’t want to sting her…. they just want to get out.
She puts down the swatter, opens the window, and the bees fly away.
As parents and as readers, we appreciated the layers of messaging in this story. It’s a lovely example of how sometimes we end up going backward before we can move forward. There is diversity among the characters, and you get the feeling of a close knit family in a happy community.
To take the lessons from this book a step further, why not create a pollinator garden with your little one? It can be as simple as planting a few bee- and butterfly-friendly flowers in your yard or in containers or a window box. You and your child can also learn more about raising gentle bees at home.
This article is part of a collaboration with our advertising partner, Candlewick Press. All thoughts and opinions shared are strictly our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Green Child to share free natural parenting and healthy living content.