Educator Resources: Eco-Theme #3: Air (with non-fiction PB titles)

Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

Every Breath We Take…

Time for my third blog post focusing on eco-themes for teachers/educators and pairing them with some of the nonfiction picture books I use with my students to highlight the material.

The eco-themes are based on the wonderful Sustainable Intelligence curriculum offered by EcoRise, an organization with a school based program aiming to empower youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching environmental literacy, social innovation, and hands-on design skills. EcoRise offers engaging, ready-to-use, K-12 curriculum that guides students in building sustainability knowledge.





You can read my original post HERE, where I talk about my experience as a Teacher Ambassador for EcoRise.

The 7 eco-themes in EcoRise’s Sustainable Intelligence curriculum are water, energy, waste, food, air, transportation, and public spaces. All of these are centered around the important concept of sustainability.

Note: If you’re a teacher and would like information about sampling the EcoRise curriculum (or possibly gaining access through a grant in your state), send me a message and I’ll be happy to help you connect 🙂 

This post will focus on Eco-theme #3: AIR

In November/December, I spent time focusing on AIR  in my science classroom. My first grade students were just beginning a unit on the Human Body, so AIR was a natural fit. Meanwhile, my second grade science students were exploring the Earth’s atmosphere and the force of gravity, so we also talked about air. We explored questions such as, “What is air made of?” “What is air pollution?” and “Why is clean air important for living things?” Extensions led to discussions and research about air pollution. We also brainstormed a list of ways that people use air and things that air does in nature: breathing, weather, transportation, recreation, pollination, and more. The foundation for my lessons came from EcoRise’s Sustainable Intelligence curriculum.


Here are some nonfiction books I used to help underscore the eco-theme of AIR and spark questions & curiosity:

Blog_EcoThemeAir_EveryBreathEvery Breath We Take: A Book About Air

Written by Maya Ajmera and Dominique Browning with a foreword by Julianne Moore

Publisher’s Synopsis: Clean air is essential for all living creatures—plants, animals, and people—to live healthy lives. Every Breath We Take is a positive, life-affirming look at clean air, with a subtle message about how air can be dirtied—and how it can be cleaned up.

Photographs of beautiful children around the world exploring air through touch, smell, sound, and sight underscore the importance of clean air to all life on earth. This is science that surrounds us.

The first step to cherishing something is recognizing its importance and understanding why it is necessary.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to Moms Clean Air Force, a national movement of over a half million moms, dads, and grandparents who are protecting the right of every child to breathe clean air.

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Charlesbridge | March 8, 2016 |ISBN-13:978-1580896160


Blog_EcoThemeAir_KateTamedWindKate, Who Tamed The Wind

Written by Liz Garton Scanlon

Illustrated by Lee White

Publisher’s Synopsis: Award-winning author Liz Garton Scanlon presents a young, rhythmic read-aloud about a girl who solves a windy problem with an environmentally sound solution: planting trees.

A wild wind blows on the tippy-top of a steep hill, turning everything upside down for the man who lives there. Luckily, Kate comes up with a plan to tame the wind. With an old wheelbarrow full of young trees, she journeys up the steep hill to add a little green to the man’s life, and to protect the house from the howling wind. From award-winning author Liz Garton Scanlon and whimsical illustrator Lee White comes a delightfully simple, lyrical story about the important role trees play in our lives, and caring for the world in which we live.

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Schwartz & Wade | February 6, 2018 |ISBN-13:978-1580896160


Note: Having majored in Human Ecology during my undergrad years, I was delighted to find the next book, Common Ground: The Water, Earth, and Air We Share, which focuses on the tragedy of the commons in simple terms and explores the concept of sustainability and sharing natural resources. This book can be tied to any of the eco-themes. Though originally published in 1997, the message is timeless and critically important.

Blog_EcoThemeAir_commongroundCommon Ground: The Water, Earth, and Air We Share

Written  and Illustrated by Molly Bang

Publisher’s Synopsis: How do our individual actions affect the world?

From the Caldecott Honor author Molly Bang, author-illustrator of the critically acclaimed Sunlight Series, this is a simple story of our planet’s natural resources. Through the example of a shared village green and the growing needs of the townspeople who share it, Molly Bang presents the challenge of handling our planet’s natural resources. With jewel-like paintings and simple text, Bang impresses upon us the urgency of conserving and preserving our earth’s limited bounty.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Blue Sky Press (1st Edition) | October 1, 1997 |ISBN-13: 978-0590100564



In learning about air, my students made natural connections and had lots of questions about flight. So, for students interested in flight and some fun history…

Lighter Than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot

Written by Matthew Clark Smith

Illustrated by Matt Tavares

Publisher’s Synopsis: Take to the skies with the beautifully told tale of Sophie Blanchard — a woman meant for the air — as she discovers the incomparable sensation of flight.

Behold the story of Sophie Blanchard, an extraordinary woman who is largely forgotten despite her claim to being the very first female pilot in history. In eighteenth-century France, “balloonomania” has fiercely gripped the nation . . . but all of the pioneering aeronauts are men. The job of shattering that myth falls to a most unlikely figure: a shy girl from a seaside village, entirely devoted to her dream of flight. Sophie is not the first woman to ascend in a balloon, nor the first woman to accompany an aeronaut on a trip, but she will become the first woman to climb to the clouds and steer her own course. The words of Matthew Clark Smith bring Sophie’s story to light after so many years, while Matt Tavares’s atmospheric art and unique perspectives take her to new heights.

Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Candlewick | March 14, 2017 |ISBN-13: 978-0763677329

There are so many other great books on flight if you’d like to go that route. Consider topics such as hot air balloons, airplanes, space flight, and more. 

If you have any other recommendations, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂 Thanks!

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