Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years Book Poster Image
Our planet tells its own history in fun, kid-friendly way.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Covers the basics of Earth's history and its place in the solar system. Names of planets and vocabulary like "continents" and "Homo sapiens." Loads of fun facts, including birds are relatives of dinosaurs, mammals are warm and fuzzy, humans have big brains and walk on two feet, dinosaurs lived on Earth for 175 million years until a big asteroid hit, there have been ice ages. Back matter describes (in brief) continents, Earth's location in the Milky Way, and how Earth supports life in the ocean and on land, with notes about the period of the dinosaurs, mentions of volcanic activity and climate change, and a list of the book's sources.

Positive Messages

Things are always changing. Earth has many secrets and scientists keep discovering things about it. Sometimes "humans forget to share and play nice and clean up after themselves." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Earth is upbeat and enthusiastic about sharing facts about itself. Earth has good self-esteem and refers to itself as "Planet Awesome." Noting its many flowers (they arrived 130 million years ago), Earth says, "I'm a very pretty planet. It's not bragging if it's true."

Violence & Scariness

A couple of menacing-looking asteroids headed to Earth. 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by David Litchfield, is a fun, science-fact-filled picture book that gives a basic history of Earth and describes its location in the solar system among its seven "sibling" planets. The book is narrated by Earth, portrayed as a friendly cartoon character proud of its past and hopeful about the future. It's a great intro to planetary science but also works as a cute, lively celebration of our spinning home. 

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What's the story?

In EARTH! MY FIRST 4.54 BILLION YEARS, our planet is the friendly narrator who talks about the other planets as the "seven siblings in my solar system" and the moon as a best friend. "We hang out all the time, even when you can't see her." Earth relays its basic history: It was born 4.54 billion years ago, but plants, bugs, animals, and humans came much later -- the humans only 200,000 years ago. Back matter describes (in brief) continents, Earth's place in the Milky Way, and how the Earth supports life in the ocean and on land, with notes about the period of the dinosaurs, mentions of volcanic activity and climate change, and a list of sources.

Is it any good?

This fresh, lively picture book covers basic Earth history in a fun, engaging way that will delight kids and teach them lots of scientific facts. Thanks to its friendly narrator -- the Earth itself -- and David Litchfield's bright cartoon-style illustrations, Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years draws kids in and teaches them about our planet's place in the solar system, the development of continents, plant and animal life, and human inhabitants. Concepts are stated in ways kids can easily understand, such as: "My favorite things to do are spinning -- it takes me a whole day to go around once -- and circling the sun. That takes me an entire year." The book works both as nonfiction and as a cute story with a cheerful main character.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the planets are portrayed in Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years. How does having them look like people -- with smiling faces and waving arms -- help draw you into the story? 

  • What are some of the things you learned about Earth that you didn't know? 

  • Which continent do you live on? Which others would you like to visit? 

Book details

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