Educator Resources: Eco-Theme # 6: Transportation (with non-fiction PB titles)

Photo by Fahrul Azmi on Unsplash

With the summer approaching, people are making plans to get out and have fun. Our typical travel plans may look different this year due to the pandemic, but many of us will still enjoy day trips and outdoor adventures. So it’s a perfect time for a post about transportation.

My sixth blog post focusing on eco-themes for teachers/educators will pair the theme of transportation with some of the non-fiction picture books I typically 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.

EcoRise has been incredibly supportive during the switch to remote teaching/learning and their curricular resources have been easily adaptable. 

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 # 6: TRANSPORTATION

We are currently winding down the school year in New Jersey. My kindergarten science class is discussing various types of summer transportation. In addition to cars, planes, buses, and other mechanical transport, many more students are talking about walking, biking, hiking, and boating. Using the EcoRise Transportation Module in the Sustainable Intelligence curriculum, we are exploring the following questions (outlined in the module):

  • What is transportation?
  • Where and how do we use transportation?
  • How can we use our own power for transportation?
  • Why are human-powered forms of transportation a healthy and fun choice?


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Here are some of the non-fiction books that may help spark questions & curiosity about the theme of transportation:


Transportation!: How People Get Around

By Gail Gibbons

Publisher’s Synopsis: Gail Gibbons takes young readers over land, sea, and air in this fascinating introduction to diverse methods of transportation.

From planes, trains, and automobiles to biking, scooting, and boating, people all around the world have developed many means and methods of moving to and fro. In this fascinating exploration of transportation, GAIL GIBBONS employs her signature colorful artwork and accessible text to explain transportation choices over land, sea, and air to young readers. Various types of vehicles are clearly detailed, as are as concepts such as carpooling and commuting. For young readers on the go, this is a must-have!

NOTE: Gail Gibbons has authored many wonderful non-fiction picture books about transportation topics such as bicycles, trains, planes, and more.

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Holiday House | Reprint edition (February 12, 2019)|ISBN-13: 978-0823441884


Boats: Fast & Slow

Written by Iris Volant and Illustrated by Jarom Vogel 

Publisher’s Synopsis: From the haunting Viking longships, to Native American log canoes, and onwards to Chinese Dragon Boats and pirate ships, to modern racing sailboats, Boats helps to tell the story of humankind in this artfully illustrated nonfiction picture book.

Boats are one of the most important inventions in human history. With the ability to venture onto the waves, we have fished for food, crossed oceans, discovered new lands, and opened up trade around the world. From great warships to small kayaks, boats are a part of every culture with access to water, and are a testament to humankind’s resourcefulness, curiosity, and thirst for adventure.

Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Flying Eye Books | July 3, 2018 |ISBN-13: 978-1911171928


The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle  

Written by Jude Isabella and Illustrated by Simone Shin 

Publisher’s Synopsis:In this unique nonfiction picture book, the main character is a bicycle that starts its life like so many bicycles in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy. The boy, Leo, treasures his bicycle so much he gives it a name — Big Red. But eventually Leo outgrows Big Red, and this is where the bicycle’s story takes a turn from the everyday, because Leo decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family’s sorghum field and to the market. Then, over time, it finds its way to a young woman named Haridata, who has a new purpose for the bicycle — renamed Le Grand Rouge — delivering medications and bringing sick people to the hospital.

This book makes an excellent choice for cultural studies classes; author Jude Isabella has provided several terrific suggestions in the back of the book for projects large and small, while a map shows the distance the bicycle traveled across the Atlantic Ocean. Award-winning illustrator Simone Shin’s digitally composed artwork includes evocative depictions of Alisetta’s and Haridata’s communities in rural Africa, creating vivid comparisons between Leo’s life and their lives. Youngsters will learn how different the world is for those who rely on bicycles as a mode of transportation, and how one ordinary bicycle — and a child’s desire to make a difference — can change lives across the world. This book also offers an excellent opportunity for expanding character education lessons on caring, compassion and empathy to include the wider world.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Kids Can Press | April 7, 2020 |ISBN-13: 978-1771385589

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman 

Written by Kathleen Krull  and Illustrated by  David Diaz  

Publisher’s Synopsis: Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she’d run. And she did run–all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single olympiad. This dramatic and inspiring true story is illustrated in bold watercolor and acrylic paintings by Caldecott Medal-winning artist David Diaz.

Ages 4-7 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | February 1, 2000 |ISBN-13: 978-0152020989


My Brothers’ Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville, and Me 

Written by Jane Yolen  and Illustrated by  Jim Burke 

Publisher’s Synopsis: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight, this story is told from the point of view of their sister, Katherine, who watched her brothers play with a toy flying machine, which was the beginning of their remarkable collaboration.

From Booklist: Katherine Wright, three years younger than Orville, tells the story of her brothers’ fascination with flight. She details the toy flying machine they played with in childhood, the years of building bicycles, and Orville and Wilber’s experimentation with manned flight, and builds to her first flight in the world-famous Kitty Hawk. Told in free verse, the narrative focuses on Will and Orv and their achievements, but underlying all that is Yolen’s quiet appreciation of the woman who believed in their dream and minded their house and even their shop while they worked toward achieving it. Says Katherine, “I kept the store. Will and Orv kept the sky.”

Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers  | 1 edition (April 1, 2003) |ISBN-13: 978-0316971591


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

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