On April 22, 1970, on the heels of a massive oil spill in California, the first Earth Day brought 20 million Americans to stand up for the protection of a planet polluted and imperiled by industrialization. This action and the resulting coalitions lead directly to the establishment of the EPA by the end of that same year, along with the passage of the first environmental laws in the United States. Now, Earth Day is "widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world." The theme of this year’s celebration is Invest in Our Planet, a call for governments, businesses, institutions, and individuals to act with the future in mind.
It can seem hard to talk about the planet sometimes, what with all the doom and gloom of the daily news. Yet it’s important not to give young people — or ourselves — the impression that there’s nothing we can do. Hope is an important precursor to change and to healthy adaptation. It’s also a vital glue that holds us all together, and keeps us moving, sometimes haltingly, toward an imagined brighter day. Every little bit makes a difference. Look for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers liked to say. Better yet, be one yourself.
I remember my own first Earth Day clearly. I was five years old. A family member took me to a local park, where we dug holes in the grassy ground and planted saplings, cradling the clumps of soil that enclosed their tender roots in our cupped hands before we lowered them into the ground. We pressed gingerly on the earth, as we’d been told, so that they would feel secure. I felt happy, with that childlike sense of accomplishment that’s harder to achieve as an adult. Still, the simple origins of this holiday are easy enough to access, even now. Make a new animal friend. Recycle or reuse. Plant a seed. Bring a child along. Do something loving for the planet we live on and those we share it with, and you’ll be acting for your future self as well. I wonder how tall those trees we planted all those years ago have grown. The experience is certainly still with me today.
Read on for some fun ways to learn about the Earth’s plant life, creatures, and care-taking with the kids and teens in your life or on your own, and join in a global celebration of our planet!
Celebrate Earth Day
For the whole month of April, immerse yourself in Celebrate Earth Day, a virtual activity adventure featured alongside the Free Library’s online Spring Into Reading Challenge. Styled after a bingo board, this virtual challenge asks you to complete a variety of fun, Earth-themed activities! Learn more about our planet and explore ways you can help the environment. Whether you want to focus on daily personal routines, build the health and sustainability of your neighborhood, or take part in global actions, this program has something for you. For all ages. Sign up online to join.
At your neighborhood library:
Snakes Alive! | Wednesday, April 5, 2023 4:00 P.M. → Logan Library
Snake expert Scott Prior will bring some of his large collection of favorite live snakes — all harmless — and teach you all about them. If you are brave enough, you can pet one!
Animal Champions | Friday, April 7, 2023 4:00 P.M. → Widener Library
Everybody is great at something; so are animals! Meet animals that might not swim the fastest or jump the highest, but still win the gold medal at surviving! Open to children of all ages and their families.
Insectopia: Insects vs Arachnids! | Monday, April 10, 2023 4:00 P.M. → Greater Olney Library
Meet the Insects! You'll get up close and learn about six different live insect friends including a tarantula, scorpion, and blue death feigning beetles with local entomologist, Trisha Nichols.
How to Use Herbs for Health | Tuesday, April 11, 2023 4:00 P.M. → Wynnefield Library
Germaine Fraser will lead a workshop on using herbs for health, wellness, and self care. This event is geared towards adults.
Plant Science – Planting the Seed at Feltonville Rec | Thursday, April 13, 2023 3:30 P.M. → Wyoming Library
Please join us next door at the Feltonville Rec Center, 221 E. Wyoming Ave, to learn about the importance of plants in our ecosystem and how to maintain household plants by planting seeds! This workshop includes everything you need!
Musicopia: Recycled Sounds | Wednesday, April 19, 2023 6:00 P.M. → Katharine Drexel Library
Join us for Musicopia: Recycled Sounds! Celebrate Earth Day with this presentation that uses instruments made from found materials! All ages welcome! Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Urban Foraging with Lady Danni | Friday, April 21, 2023 10:00 A.M. → FDR Park (Entrance at 20th and Pattinson Avenue)
Join Lady Danni on a walk at FDR Park to learn more about the plants that grow in the Philadelphia/Lenapehoking area and how they’re used. This walk is to show you the beauty and utility of many of the plants you may consider weeds.
Bird Walks: Introduction to Spring Migration | Wednesday, April 26, 2023 7:29 A.M. → Andorra Library
Join Martin Selzer, a local naturalist and life-long birder, on this series of informational bird walks at Houston Meadow. Learn about migration, bird species and behaviors, spotting birds and more!
Philly Goat Project Storytime | Thursday, April 27, 2023 4:00 P.M. → Thomas F. Donatucci, Sr. Library
Join us in our Library garden to welcome the Philly Goat Project! We will meet and interact with these furry friends, including a mini nature walk. All ages welcome. No registration required.
Intro to House Plants and Repotting | Saturday, April 29, 2023 11:00 A.M. → Kensington Library
Participants will explore and share information on a variety of houseplants and how to care for them (proper lighting, watering, soil, repotting, and much more!). Go home with your own easy-care plant, soil, and flowerpot.
For more Free Library programs, be sure to visit our events calendar.
There are so many ways to learn about or support the natural world right here in Philadelphia! Here are a few ideas.
- Find a local park with a Love Your Park event or clean-up in your neighborhood.
- Plant a tree with Tree Philly and help make Philadelphia “the City of Arborly Love!” This program of Parks & Rec offers free yard and street trees for homeowners, and opportunities for volunteer planting. Sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media to stay in the know.
- Be a part of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education’s mission to foster “meaningful connections between people and nature.” They host a nature-based preschool and day camp, and solicit volunteers to help toads safely cross the road. Stay tuned to their calendar for upcoming programs, educational events, volunteer opportunities, plant sales, and more.
- Visit the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center, founded by retired public school teacher Carole Williams-Green, along with support and fund-raising efforts from the local community. Now the beautiful site is home to resident deer and a number of youth and community groups and programs. Email CobbsCreekCEC@gmail.com to get involved or learn more.
- Explore ways to use less energy at home, or reuse old materials to make something new! This can be a fun art project for kids. And why not help kids burn some energy — the good kind — at the same time?
How will you celebrate the Earth this April? Let us know in the comments below.