We Planted a Tree

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
We Planted a Tree Book Poster Image
A poem to inspire young tree huggers everywhere.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Great facts about the life cycle of trees and the many benefits to people and the environment.

Positive Messages

Trees help the world by providing beauty, shade, clean air, healthy soil, and food.  By planting a single tree, we can make the earth a better, happier more peaceful place.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two families, one from NYC and the other from Africa, look full of hope as they plant trees in their yards. As the children grow, so does each tree. Other families enjoying the benefits of trees are pictured in scenes from other parts of the world. A quote on the frontispiece gives reference to Kenya's Green Belt Movement: "When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope." 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is a simple, hopeful poem about trees, and the good people can do by planting them. It was inspired by the work done by Kenya's Green Belt Movement, and its message celebrates nature, growth, and the power of community effort. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGamer4056 June 6, 2018
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byfever01 March 25, 2010
this book tell you about being green

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What's the story?

The story begins when two families from opposite sides of the world each plant a tree in the backyard. Years pass, and the trees grow, as do the families. Meanwhile the reader learns how trees grow and what they do to benefit people all over the world, and the earth itself. In the end, the children have grown, and we see them standing, happy and hopeful, with their families around the tree they each put into the earth.

Is it any good?

While the story here is simply told in poetic lines and the illustrations are playful, the message is powerful and will inspire readers of all ages. It stresses how in many ways, people all around the world are the same, and all benefit in some way from the trees that grow around them. The author might have made her message even stronger had she nudged readers toward the next step by including information about Kenya's Greenbelt project as well as other tree projects that people, especially kids, might access.

Any fan of Bob Staake will recognize the artwork as his. On one page, attentive readers will even spot the donut chef from his earlier book. Created on the computer, his scenes are expressively detailed yet definitely of graphic design. Colorful, geometrically influenced images describe each setting and bring a fuller, more universal dimension to the hopeful message of each page.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how trees grow and why they are important.  How does the sunshine help the leaves make food? Or help the buds burst open? How do the leaves help clean the air? How do the roots help heal the soil? They can talk about how they benefit from the trees around them, and how they could help those trees grow. 

  • What do the illustrations show about the poem? What different countries and cultures do you see? How do you know where the story is taking place? What details give you hints about what is going on?

  • Families might read about the reforestation programs that are happening around the world, especially those that are taking place in their own communities. How can kids help out?

Book details

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