Children’s Books

This is a list of books that I, myself, have read and recommend. I regularly add to this list. I mostly feature books that are factually accurate since children (and their parents) trust books to offer factual information. I’ve listed an article about this issue by a children’s non-fiction author under Additional Resources below.

That being said, children’s books are sometimes a great way to introduce and learn about a complex topic, such as plastic pollution or climate change, in a condensed or simplified format. It’s often easier to learn basics and build knowledge from there. So never be ashamed to read children’s books!

I use the age recommendations from Amazon, but they are only suggestions. I read books of all levels to and with my son. You may be able to find these at your local library, so always check there first before you buy. Bonus – it’s fun to take your children to the library! Libraries rock!

Here are the topic areas if you want to quickly get to a specific section:

Plastic

Plastic Bags

Ocean & Water Pollution

Garbage, Trash, Composting, & Recycling

Climate Change

Marine Life

Coral Reefs

Environmental Leaders

Ocean Explorers

Nature & Ecosystems

Protecting Our Planet

Wildlife & Endangered Species

True Stories about Animals 

Evolution

Giving

Plastic

Tammy Turtle book coverTammy Turtle: A Tale of Saving Sea Turtles

by Suzanne Tate

This is a story about a turtle going through her entire life cycle from birth, to giving birth. Tammy Turtle eats a plastic bag, mistaking it for a jellyfish. “Helpful Humans” assist her and her health returns. There’s actually a whole nature series by the same author and illustrator. Recommended ages 5-7.

Pesky Plastic: An Environmental Story

by Leticia Colon de Mejias

While not the most well-edited book, this story comes from a great organization and I do recommend it. The author is the founder and CEO of GreenEcoWarriors.org whose mission is “Creating a Culture of Sustainable thinkers” through education aligned with national standards. Pesky Plastic is a cute story is about how plastic pollution affects marine animals and how children can help prevent plastic pollution. “Plastic seems easy to use and throw away, but sometimes the easy choice is not the right choice!” The book also features educational guides, a glossary, and instructions to make a fabric bag. Recommended ages 4-8.

Join the No-Plastic Challenge!: A First Book of Reducing Waste book coverJoin the No-Plastic Challenge!: A First Book of Reducing Waste

by Scot Ritchie

This story is about a boy who decides to go plastic-free for one day with his friends, including his birthday party. They learn about plastic pollution, participate in a beach clean-up, and most importantly they realize how easy it can be to go plastic-free. I really like this book! Recommended ages 4-7.

The Plastic Problem book cover, illustrated Earth at center and plastic items, a recycling symbol, and a sea turtle surrounding it. Yellow background.The Plastic Problem: 60 Small Ways to Reduce Waste and Help Save the Earth

By Aubre Andrews

This book includes all of the issues surrounding plastic, plastic pollution, and ways we can stop using plastic even though it’s in everything! The actions in this practical guide will help you understand how to reduce waste and plastic and better protect your family and the environment. Recommended ages 9-12, but anyone, including adults, will learn something from this book!

Book coverPlastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

by Patricia Newman

This is a photojournalistic book that follows three young female scientists living and working aboard a research ship that was part of the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastics Expedition (SEAPLEX). It details how the scientists learned more about the impact of plastics in the Pacific Garbage Patch. The author summarizes their research and offers information on minimizing environmental impact. Recommended ages 8-12.

Cover of Plastic Sucks!Plastic Sucks!: How YOU Can Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Save Our Planet

by Dougie Poynter

This is a cleverly written book about the environmental problems caused by plastic. The author interviews many leaders in the environmental movement and offers many inspiring tips on ways that kids can help. Self-described as “just your average person who has a love for wildlife and the oceans and a natural curiosity and concern about pollution,” he teaches kids how to lead by example and spread the message positively. “With a bit of awareness and the right course of action, even the smallest changes in our everyday lives are having a huge impact.” The book was written from the UK, but plastic is a global problem so the information is relevant in any part of the world. Recommended ages 8-12.

The Last Straw Kids vs Plastics book cover The Last Straw: Kids vs. Plastics

by Susan Hood

The book uses different styles of poetry interspersed with factual information to provide an overview of the threat of plastic waste and its consequences on human and animal life. The book also features the story of kids around the world who are fighting for change to save our planet. The end of the book features additional information about plastic pollution; a timeline of plastic’s history; a chart of major ocean polluters; and additional resources. Recommended ages 4-10.

 

One Turtle's Last Straw book coverOne Turtle’s Last Straw: The Real-Life Rescue That Sparked a Sea Change

by Elisa Boxer

Inspired by the true story and subsequent viral video of scientists extracting a plastic straw from the nostril of a sea turtle. From the publisher: “In the waters off of Costa Rica, scientists spot an endangered sea turtle and pull him aboard to study him. But he has something stuck in his nose. A barnacle? A stick? No…it’s a plastic straw! This heroic story of one turtle’s rescue reminds us that even the smallest straw can hurt our ocean life–and that the smallest demand for change can grow into something big!” Recommended ages 4-8.

Kids vs. Plastic cover art, plastic bottle, plastic bags, straws, balloons, etc. with a sea turtle, National Geographic yellow border.Kids vs. Plastic: Ditch the straw and find the pollution solution to bottles, bags, and other single-use plastics

By Julie Beer

This is an excellent and accurate overview of the plastic problems in our world. I highly recommend it for older kids (and adults!). From the publisher: “Discover shocking stats and surprising facts; inspirational interviews with National Geographic explorers and leading researchers who are working tirelessly to protect the planet; tons of simple suggestions for sustainable swaps; and more eco-friendly choices and smart action steps. This book answers all of your burning questions about plastic and offers tangible ways to get involved, reduce plastic use, and create a more plastic-free future!” Recommended ages 8-12.

Kids Fight Plastic cover art, illustrated cartoon people with blue background; white plastic bottle outline with title over it at center.Kids Fight Plastic: How to Be a #2minutesuperhero

by Martin Dorey

Environmentalist author Martin Dorey presents plastics and the real problems plastic creates. There are lots of practical things kids can do to help educate about plastic and trash, as well as tips for how to help the environment. This is a great book for any environmentally-conscious kid! Recommended ages 7-12.

 

 

Taking on the Plastics Crisis book cover, illustration of the author surrounded by a coral reef with an aqua colored background.Taking on the Plastics Crisis

by Hannah Testa

This is an inspirational book for tweens and teens, as well as a good primer on plastics. From the publisher: “In this personal, moving essay, youth activist Hannah Testa shares with readers how she led a grassroots political campaign to successfully pass state legislation limiting single-use plastics and how she influenced global businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. Through her personal journey, readers can learn how they, too, can follow in Hannah’s footsteps and lower their carbon footprint by simply refusing single-use plastics.” Recommended ages 12-17.

Washed Ashore book coverWashed Ashore: Making Art from Ocean Plastic

by Kelly Crull

I was very excited to find this book, as I’ve featured Washed Ashore projects on my Plastic Art Projects page for several years! The organization was founded by artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, who was distrubed by the plastic trash polluting the beach near her home. With the help of volunteers, she started gathering trash from beaches and using it to create sculptures of wildlife. These sculptures travel the country to teach people about problems caused by plastic pollution. From the publisher: “Author and photographer Kelly Crull highlights fourteen spectacular sculptures, along with hints to find common objects hidden among the debris. There’s information about each ocean animal as well as tips for how you can reduce your plastic use, hold a beach cleanup and make your own plastic art. Be inspired to get creative in protecting the world’s oceans!” Recommended ages 6-10, but good for any age!

Plastic Bags

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay book coverOne Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

by Miranda Paul 

This is a true inspirational story about a woman in The Gambia who chose to upcycle waste, challenge womens’ roles, and increased employment, all by making plastic bags into new items, such as purses. Check out my full review! Recommended ages 5-9.

Bag in the Wind book coverBag in the Wind

by Ted Kooser

This book is a really good tale of a plastic bag that blows through different environments. The story touches on pollution, recycling, homelessness, landfills, and even composting. While the book is listed for ages 5-8, I think this is more appropriate for the latter years of that range. A worthy read regardless. Recommended ages 5-8.

I'm Not a Plastic Bag book cover I’m Not A Plastic Bag

by Rachel Hope Allison

Foreword by Jeff Corwin

This graphic novel/comic book tells the story of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch through beautifully illustrated images. There are very few words in the story part but they aren’t necessary here. Recommended for all ages.

 Ocean & Water Pollution

All the way to the ocean book coverAll the Way to the Ocean

by Joel Harper

This is a cute story about children learning how their actions can directly affect nature and ocean pollution. For example, the characters learn that trash that gets into storm drains eventually reaches the ocean. The book offers motivational calls to action for kids. It was endorsed by the Save Our Seas Foundation and the Surfrider Foundation. Recommended ages 5-8.

We Are Water Protectors book coverWe Are Water Protectors

by Carole Lindstrom

Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal, this beautifully illustrated book addresses protecting our most precious resource – water. “Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.” The author included a note about why she wrote the book and about the Native Nations that are fighting oil pipelines. Recommended ages 3-6 but I believe over age 6 will benefit from its poetic expression.

the day the river caught fire cover art, drawing showing children watching a river with flames coming out of it, bridge over the water, firetrucks flanking river.The Day the River Caught Fire: How the Cuyahoga River Exploded and Ignited the Earth Day Movement

by Barry Wittenstein

From the publisher: “After the Industrial Revolution in the 1880s, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire almost twenty times, earning Cleveland the nickname “The Mistake on the Lake.” Waste dumping had made fires so routine that local politicians and media didn’t pay them any mind, and other Cleveland residents laughed off their combustible river and even wrote songs about it. But when the river ignited again in June 1969, the national media picked up on the story and added fuel to the fire of the recent environmental movement. A year later, in 1970, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency—leading to the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts—and the first Earth Day was celebrated. It was a celebration, it was a protest, and it was the beginning of a movement to save our planet.” Recommended ages 4-8.

Black Beach cover illustration, with main character, a girl, among marine life standing on the coast holding up an Earth sign.Black Beach: A Community, an Oil Spill, and the Origin of Earth Day

by Shaunna & John Stith

This an excellent summary of the history of the oil spill that helped spawn the modern environmental movement and the first Earth Day. From the publisher: “In 1969, Union Oil caused an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara that would change the world. Hazardous crude oil from the blowout flooded the Pacific Ocean, harming wildlife and devastating habitats. But from this ecological disaster sprang a new wave of environmental activism that continues to this day.” Recommended ages 6-9.

Kai and Gaia Discover the Gyre book cover Kai and Gaia Discover the Gyre

by Kristal Ambrose

This book is colorful and exciting as Kai’s ocean friends teach her about ocean pollution, especially plastic pollution. From the publisher: “Inspired by Kristal Ambrose’s journey of inspiration as an activist that led to her founding The Bahamas Plastic Movement, this book is about an ocean-loving young Bahamian girl named Kai (Ocean) who is inspired to bring an end to ocean plastic pollution after her best friend, a sea turtle named Gaia (Earth), becomes stuck at sea in a trash gyre. As Kai learns about the threats facing her marine friends, her determination and passion show the amazing potential of a single child to bring on incredible change. In this story, Kai and Gaia represent the joining of land and sea and the need to protect both environments.” Recommended ages 3-8.

The Ocean Story book coverThe Ocean Story

by John Seven

This is a cute book for young children, and it briefly introduces children to the problems of oil spills and ocean pollution. It explains that balance is essential within the ocean as well as between the Earth and the ocean, but on a young reader’s level. It does not address very well why ocean pollution happens, as I’m not sure that was the author’s intention. I enjoyed reading it to my son. Recommended ages 5-7.

Cover of The Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean bookThe Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean

by Deborah Diesen

I love the entire Pout-Pout Fish series – the rhythmic rhymes and the attractive illustrations. I’ve been reading these to my son since he was 2. This newest edition addresses pollution and encourages children to join along and help clean up the ocean pollution we’ve created. The fish meet together and discuss what to do: “It’s awful that we caused it, But this bad news can be good, For it means that we can solve it – If we all agree we should.” And they all agreed! If only it were this simple for us grown-ups. Recommended ages 3-6.

Rocket Says Clean Up book cover art, Rocket, the main character, surfing a big ocean wave. Rocket Says Clean Up!

by Nathan Bryon

From the publisher: “Rocket is off to the islands to visit her grandparents. Her family loves nothing better than to beach comb and surf together…but the beach is clogged with trash! When she finds a turtle tangled in a net, Rocket decides that something must be done! Like a mini Greta Thunberg, our young activist’s enthusiasm brings everyone together…to clean up the beach and prevent plastics from spoiling nature…[this book] will inspire readers of all ages to dream big and tackle problems head-on.” Recommended ages 3-7.

Fish book cover Fish

by Brendan Kearney

This is a cute story about the problem of trash pollution in the ocean and its effect on fish and wildlife populations. It has a cute message about how we can all change what we are doing with waste and work together, though it is a bit idealistic in its solutions. The illustrations are fun and colorful. Recommended ages 3-7.

 

The Water Princess book cover, showing a young woman carrying a water jug on her head, the background is a sun and orange colors to depict the heat. The Water Princess

by Susan Verde

From the publisher: “Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village…Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, [Princess] Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.” Recommended ages 4-8.

Book cover Crabby’s Water Wish: A Tale of Saving Sea Life

by Suzanne Tate

An adorable tale of marine life who suffer from various types of pollution. Clean Water Charlie, seen in the boat on the cover, teaches school children how to stop pollution and keep the water clean. Everyone works hard to clean it up over time, and the marine life was happy when the water was clean and clear again! Recommended ages 5-8.

Ducky book coverDucky

by Eve Bunting

This book is based on the 1992 event when multiple cargo containers fell off of a ship and dumped 28,800 plastic bathtub toys into the ocean. They washed up for many years on different shores and their drift patterns were studied and recorded by scientists based on location reporting. This story follows the life of one yellow bathtub duck who floats endlessly in the sea until he washes up and is found by a child. It’s a really cute short story that can introduce children to the notion of floating plastics, pollution, and cross-oceanic shipping. Recommend ages 3-7.

Mara Save The Sea book coverMara Saves The Sea

by Shalanta Boli

In this story, Mara discovers that her ocean friends are sick from plastic and pollution. She works with her village to come up with solutions. Colorfully illustrated and easy to read. My son insisted this book should be listed on this page! Recommended ages 4-8.

 

 

The BP Oil Spill book coverThe BP Oil Spill

by Peter Benoit

This book was an honest account of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in 2010. Written for ages 7-9, it explained the spill in an open way, showing how BP was responsible for causing the disaster. The author explained many of the economical and environmental consequences resulting from this and oil spills in general. These included tourism, the fishing industry, endangering already threatened species, the effects on the entire food chain, and damage to the Gulf of Mexico, the ocean, and the environment. This is a really good introduction to those topics. Recommended ages 7-9.

 

Garbage, Trash, Composting, & Recycling

Can I Recycle This book cover, child's drawing on the Earth in center, with illustrations of trash and recycling item floating around it.Can I Recycle This?: A Kid’s Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics 

by Jennie Romer

This is the best children’s book on recycling that I’ve ever found. This is an adaptation of the adult version; the author is a lawyer and sustainability expert. Recommended for ages 5-10 but I honestly recommend it for all readers, as it simply lays out the simple facts of waste and recycling that so many people aren’t aware of. For example: “The recycling facility tries to sell these bales to businesses who will use them to make new products. This means that recycled materials only get made into another item if a business wants to buy them.” There is an overwhelming amount of plastic in the world and most of it does not get recycled. Many people don’t know that. This book also has fun illustrations and funny captions. This is a must-read!

Illustraion of kids carrying bags of food; foods floating in the air around them; kids walking on the planet. Blue background.Good Food, Bad Waste: Let’s Eat for the Planet

by Erin Silver

While this book is about food, I placed it under the garbage and composting category because it relates mainly to waste – food waste. In the US, we throw away approximately 40% of our food. When food goes into a landfill, it releases greenhouse gases instead of decomposing back into soil. This book features ways to reduce food waste and what to do with the food waste we do have. Recommended ages 9-12.

What Happens to Our Trash? book coverWhat Happens to Our Trash?

by D. J. Ward

his book from the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series is an excellent beginning source for young readers on the waste crisis. It explains the basics of landfills, the dangers of toxins from landfills, recycling, and how to reduce waste. Your child will need to know that not all proper practices surrounding landfills are put into place and that most plastic recycling doesn’t actually get recycled. But this is a good place to start. Recommended ages 4-8.

What A Waste book coverWhat a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet

by Jess French

This is an excellent introductory book to the problems of our disposable culture and the best book on concepts surrounding waste. It explains how our throwaway culture and excessive fossil fuel energy use are connected to climate change, pollution, human and animal health hazards, deforestation, endangered species, the increase in extreme weather. I honestly believe this book is also good for adults that may not know much about these topics because it provides great tidbits of information. It explains how sewer systems function; addresses the hazards of fast fashion; even increasing space waste. Tips like using beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap or washing your clothes on cold to save energy are helpful to everyone. At the end, it has ideas on how to be part of the change and provides resources to learn more. “Our planet is drowning in waste, but if we act now, it’s not too late to save it.” Recommended ages 6-9 but I would argue that this book could be helpful to people of all ages.

Trash Revolution cover, illustration of a child swinging a mallet at a plastic bottle with other trash in the background; the green recycling symbol in background of title. Aqua colored cover.Trash Revolution: Breaking the Waste Cycle

by Erica Fyvie

This book breaks down many categories of waste and how it is trashed or recycled – or at least how it could be recycled. It is a dense book offering lots of mostly good information. However, at times it is overly optimistic about the future of recycling, reuse, and waste. Humans produce far too many things and we cannot recycle or reuse our way out of it. We have to stop the production. Overall, the book is a good resource and includes a glossary, resources, bibliography, and index at the end. Recommended ages 8-12, but adults can learn from this one as well.

All That Trash book coverAll That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff

by Meghan McCarthy

This is the true story of a full barge of garbage from New York City that traveled for 5 months and 6,000 miles. The city landfill was full, so the garbage, intended to be incinerated to harvest the methane, was loaded onto a barge and sent to North Carolina. The state rejected it and the garbage barge was subsequently rejected by every state and nation as it traveled along. It eventually ended up back in New York where it was burned (but not for methane capture). The barge had become a national news story and it raised environmental awareness about the need for recycling. The book tells the story concisely, has factual information at the end, and is visually appealing with illustrations by the author. Recommended ages 4-8.

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion book coverTracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion

by Loree Griffin Burns

This book is aimed at teen and young adult readers, but I even learned a lot from reading it. Oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash in the ocean scientifically, and beachcombers all around the world send him data and images. In five chapters the book presents information about ocean currents and tides; ocean gyres; cargo spills and the scientific model that assists with current simulation, OSCURS; the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch; and the huge problem of ghost nets. This is a great resource! Recommended ages 10-13.

Book coverThe Little Recycler (Teenie Greenies)

By Jan Gerardi

This adorable little board book also has lift-the-flap pages and teaches toddlers how they can reduce, reuse, and recycle. One of my favorites from my son’s early years. Recommended ages 1-5.

 

Bottle Tops book cover Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui

by Alison Goldberg

This is a good introductory story to the Art of El Anatsui. From the publisher: “The inspiring biography of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui whose handmade sculptures, created from discarded bottle tops, have received international acclaim and been showcased around the world.​” The book features additional information and resources, as well as instructions on how to make art with recycled materials. “If you touch something, you leave a charge on it and anybody else touching it connects with you, in a way.” -El Anatsui. Recommended ages: 8-12.

Compost stew book cover art, a girl with red hair and a black and white dog and goose with a compost bin.Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth

by Mary McKenna Siddals

This is a great introduction to what should go into compost collection, with fun collage-style illustrations. Using the alphabet, the author weaves a rhyming verse with items that should be included. At the end of the book, there is a short list of items that shouldn’t be placed into compost. Recommended ages 2-6.

Ada's Violin book cover art, showing "Ada" playing her upcycled violin, with kids walking through a trash heap in the background, aqua blue sky above.Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

by Susan Hood

From the publisher: “Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.” Recommended ages 4-8.

Climate Change

Sea Bear book cover art, polar bear on ice floating on the sea.Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival

by Lindsay Moore

This book explains climate change through the perspective of a polar bear struggling to survive its changing Arctic environment. From the publisher: “Informed by the author’s background in marine science, Sea Bear is a vivid and moving page-turner with a vital message about our changing planet. This is a gorgeously illustrated book, with the perfect marriage of scientific fact and poetry, that shows the reality of climate change and how it poses a threat to the animals of the Arctic.” There is additional information about Arctic animals and climate change at the end. Recommended ages 4-8.

Book cover of Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?: The Dangers of Global WarmingWhy Are the Ice Caps Melting? The Dangers of Global Warming

by Anne Rockwell

This book teaches about global warming and its major contributors. It’s very easy to understand for all age levels, and it offers many ways humans can change their behaviors and actions to make a difference. The illustrations help tell the story as well for younger children. My favorite part is that the book addresses the belief by some that global warming is a natural process. Even if it is natural, “it’s still a good idea for us to do whatever we can to try to stop the amount of greenhouse gases from increasing.” Absolutely, we should all be doing what can – and we should be teaching our children to do what they can. Recommended ages 4-8.

The Story of Climate Change book coverThe Story of Climate Change: A first book about how we can help save our planet

by Catherine Barr

This book explains climate change throughout Earth’s history and then focuses on the human causes of global warming. Even if you’re an adult looking for a simple overview of the climate crisis, this book will give you just that. It’s factual, colorfully illustrated, and gives ideas on what we can do to solve the problems. Recommended ages 5-10.

Global cover art, a girl and her dog standing on ice in the Arctic overlooking blue sea and glaciers.Global: One fragile world. An epic fight for survival.

by Eoin Colfer

This is a work of fiction but features the real effects of climate change, from the migration of animals to the loss of coastal villages and fragile sea ice. Beautifully illustrated and engaging, I had a hard time putting this book down. Recommended ages 10-14 but appealing to anyone who appreciates graphic novels.

 

 

Rising Seas book cover, showing the Statue of Liberty under ocean water up to her mid section.Rising Seas: Flooding, Climate Change and Our New World

by Keltie Thomas

This informative book shows young readers how climate change affects rising sea levels in different places around the world. It features Miami Beach, New Orleans, New York, Nova Scotia, Lennox Island, Greenland, The Netherlands, the Nile Delta, The Maldives, Mumbai, Guangzhou, Bangladesh, The Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Antarctica, London, Ho Chi Minh City, and Manila, Philippines. All of these areas will suffer loss of land, life, and culture. We will have many climate refugees. The author offers ideas for what young people can do. Recommended ages 9-13, but any age can benefit from learning about sea level rise at these locations.

 

Whales To The Rescue book cover, cross section of ocean and sky with a humpback whales jumping out of the water. Sunrise in background.Whales to the Rescue: How Whales Help Engineer the Planet

by Adrienne Mason

This book explains how one animal can make a difference for the planet, specifically climate change. Whales and oceans are a major part of the carbon cycle, and more carbon in the ocean means less carbon in the atmosphere. From the publisher: “Using a highly visual approach and a slow build of concepts, this fascinating book explores how whales play an essential role in maintaining a healthy ocean and, by extension, a healthy and biodiverse planet. Nearly half the book provides information on whales, including types of whales, what they eat and poop and how they migrate. It then moves on to describe the consequences of a warming planet and the ways that whales can help.” The end contains a glossary, resources, an index, and information on how children can help. Recommended ages 8-12, but anyone can benefit from reading this book.

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge book coverThe Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge

by Joanna Cole & Bruce Degen

Climate change is a big problem. This book teaches children about climate change and steps they can take to stop it. As in all Magic School Bus books, the students take an odd trip with their favorite teacher to learn first hand. Recommended ages 6-8.

A Warmer World book coverA Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife

by Caroline Arnold

This book introduces climate change and its impact on wildlife. It is accurate, factual, and honest in that it does not offer false hope about the future in regard to the climate crisis. It has colorful and beautiful illustrations, a glossary, and lists of additional resources for further research. Recommended ages 7-10.

 

How do we stop climate change book cover How Do We Stop Climate Change?

by Tom Jackson

This is an excellent book for older children, young adults, and even adults! Colorfully illustrated, it explains the problems in a simple and straightforward manner and includes information about how weather, climate, and human activity all interact. My only objections to the book were in the Technology chapter. The author explains some solutions, such as Genetically Modified (GMO) Foods, as a positive solution, and that is incorrect. The author includes some of the other solutions scientists are exploring, such as intentional global dimming by pumping dust into the air to reduce temperature and aerating the surface of the ocean to cause more reflection. I am not familiar with some of these theories, so I am not sure if they are good introductions or placed out of context. It does feature a section at the end about what we can all do right now to help. Overall, I think this book is an excellent overview of climate change! Recommended ages 8+.

Our World Out of Balance cover art Our World Out of Balance: Understanding Climate Change and What We Can Do

by Andrea Minoglio

This is a comprehensive book that touches on all aspects of climate change, from garbage to wildfires to coral reefs to overpopulation. From the publisher: “Filled with engaging big ideas that will inspire children to think about their role in keeping our world healthy, Our World Out of Balance details how humans have thrown the planet off-balance and ways we can work together to be part of the solution and create a healthier world.” The book could have been stronger on the issues of plastic recycling, but its strengths far outweigh that. Recommended ages 8-12, though this book is a great introduction to climate change issues for any age, including adults.

What Is Climate Change? book cover What Is Climate Change?

by Gail Herman

This is a decent, thorough overview of climate change. The author presents different viewpoints about climate change, though there are parts that could have been more assertive about the effects of it. Regardless, I recommend this book for children and adults who want to learn about climate change and need a good source to start with. It covers a wide array is issues from glacial melting to bleached coral reefs and from endangered species to the human struggle for freshwater. Recommended ages 8-12.

 

Buried Sunlight book coverBuried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth

By Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

This book explains the Earth’s carbon cycle from the Sun’s perspective. The Sun tells how fossil fuels have developed over millions of years while life on Earth evolved, and how humans are using those fossil fuels now for energy. But using so many of those fossil fuels is causing our planet to heat at a faster pace than normal climate change does. Recommended ages 4-8; but this is a great introductory book for anyone wanting to understand the basics of fossil fuels and climate change.

Marine Life

Follow the Moon Home book coverFollow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson

This book explains the process of how baby turtles use the moon to find their way to the ocean. More importantly, it teaches children how they can participate in their coastal community and help protect endangered sea turtles. Recommended ages 5-8.

Turtle Summer book cover, illustration of a mom and child walking on a sunset beach, with a baby sea turtle photograph at center.Turtle Summer: A Journal for My Daughter

by Mary Alice Monroe

Though an older title, this book is a sweet story about watching sea turtles and protecting their nests, particularly loggerheads. From the publisher: “This is a companion book to Mary Alice Monroe’s adult novel, Swimming Lessons, (Mira), the sequel to The Beach House. In the novel, the readers witness a young mother, Toy, writing a journal for her daughter, Little Lovie. Turtle Summer: A Journal for my Daughter is the journal Toy is writing. Using original photographs, this scrapbook journal explains the nesting cycle of sea turtles and the natural life along the southeastern coast, including local shore birds, shells, and the sea turtle hospital. Adults and children will enjoy the images, information and journal with or without the novel.” Recommended ages 5-8.

Our Blue Planet book cover, cross-section of the ocean, walruses on top of an ice floe in upper section, sharks and fish and coral life in lower third. Our Blue Planet

This is a beautiful book and compliments the film series wonderfully. From the publisher: “Introduce young readers to the variety, expanse, mystery, and wonder that abounds in the depths of the oceans with this picture book companion to the BBC series The Blue Planet—featuring a foreword by Sir David Attenborough…Our oceans are home to the greatest diversity of life on Earth…With so much to discover, this book introduces creatures beyond imagination.” Recommended ages 4-10.

 

 

Wild Kratts Wild Sea Creatures: Sharks, Whales and Dolphins! book coverWild Kratts, Wild Sea Creatures: Sharks, Whales and Dolphins!

by Chris and Martin Kratt

A Step into Reading young science book featuring zoologists from the Kratt brothers. Introduces many sea creatures and vocabulary words. Recommended ages 4-6.

 

 

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas book coverOcean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas

by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm

This book explains the importance of phytoplankton, the tiny plants that form the basis of the ocean’s cyclical food chain. “Acclaimed Caldecott artist Molly Bang and award-winning M.I.T. professor Penny Chisholm use poetic language and dazzling illustrations to introduce the oceanic world. From tiny aquatic plants to the biggest whale or fish, Bang and Chisholm present a moving, living picture of the miraculous balance sustaining each life cycle and food chain deep within our wondrous oceans.” There are several pages of additional scientific information at the back of the book that I found helpful. Recommended ages 4-8.

Over and Under the Waves book cover, showing a cross section of the ocean, a whale under the sea and birds and kayakers above. Over and Under the Waves

by Kate Messner & Christopher Silas Neal

A family goes kayaking at Monterey Bay, California, which is one of the most diverse ocean ecosystems in the world. They see many different creatures under the waves and in the sky, and even more near shore. This is an adorable book that will spark environmental awareness and a love of the sea. The end matter features factual information about each species in the story. Recommended ages 5-8.

 

Killer Whales Animal Predators book coverKiller Whales: Animal Predators

By Sandra Markle

This book is a little older but the information seems accurate. It mainly focuses on how orcas hunt collaboratively and how they raise their young. I’m featuring this one because I’ve read several children’s books about orca and so far, most have inaccuracies. Recommended ages 9-11.

Sea Critters book cover Sea Critters

by Dr. Sylvia Earle

This National Geographic title features illustrations and photography of the vast array of sea animals and fish, organized by scientific category. Recommended ages 6-9.

 

 

Cover art on The Tide Pool WaitsThe Tide Pool Waits

by Candace Fleming

This is a cute, rhythmic story that is a great introduction to tidal pool marine creatures on the Pacific Coast. There is an illustrated guide at the back of the book, listing a description and facts about each animal mentioned in the story. There is also a full-page colorful diagram of the various tide zones. Recommended ages 4-8.

 

Coral Reefs

Cover of Coral Reefs bookCoral Reefs: A Journey Through an Aquatic World Full of Wonder 

by Jason Chin

This nonfiction book explains the wonders of the coral reefs through the eyes of a girl who is reading a book about them at the library. The library building gradually evolves into the ocean and coral reef gardens, as the girl imagines while reading. It put my two of my favorite things together,  a library and the ocean. How clever! My son chose this book himself (at the library) and enjoyed it immensely. Recommended ages 5-9.

Cover of bookThe Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation

by Kate Messner

This nonfiction story about the Coral Restoration Foundation’s project is uplifting, inspiring, and fascinating. Ken Nedimyer transplanted living coral to dead reefs to see if they’d survive and grow – and they did! I was not familiar with this story and was surprised this worked. It truly does takes just one person’s ideas to spawn great change. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and exceptionally colorful. This book won several awards, including the ALA Notable Children’s Books Award, the NSTA-CBC Best STEM Trade Books Award, the Junior Library Guild Selection, and the ILA Teacher’s Choices. Recommended ages 5-9.

Keeper of the Reef book cover, a coral reef with multiple colorful swimming around it. Keepers of the Reef

by Dr. Sharon Wismer

Written by a marine biologist and co-founder of SEA Kids Alliance, this book explains how coral reefs function and how all of the different species contribute. From the publisher: “Without the fish species that brush, crop, scrape, excavate, and browse the algae, coral reefs would die. A coral reef is a brilliant and colorful example of how a complex ecosystem functions and why its keystone species are critical to its health.” This book addresses why coral reefs are struggling, particularly because of climate change. At the end, the author highlights methods scientists are implementing to try to mitigate some of the problems but also poses ways kids can help too. Recommended ages 7-10.

Hello Fish book coverHello, Fish! Visiting The Coral Reef 

by Dr. Sylvia Earle

This National Geographic book features a map of the world’s coral reefs and introduces young readers to some of the coral reef’s most fascinating animals and fish. Includes large, detailed photographs. Recommended ages 3-7.

 

 

Explore My World: Coral Reefs book cover, yellow fish swimming next to coral.Explore My World: Coral Reefs

by Jill Esbaum

This National Geographic Kids book on coral reefs is a great introduction to the species that live in and around coral reefs. It features high-quality, colorful photographs. Its one drawback is that it does not explain why coral reefs are so important to the Earth, so reading this would require follow-up information. Recommended ages 3-5.

 

Environmental Leaders

Book coverI Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon

by Baptiste & Miranda Paul

Based on a true story, a child in Cameroon grows up with the desire to farm, rather than work an office job. He learns how to bring clean water and food to his area, becoming an environmental leader. This was an enjoyable book. Recommended ages 7-11.

Our House is On Fire book coverOur House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet

by Jeanette Winter

This is Greta Thunberg’s story: at age 15, after learning about the climate crisis, she began a “School Strike for Climate” that took hold across many nations and spawned youth activism. She now speaks to audiences of world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference and the World Economic Forum. “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic…I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” She has shown everyone that even the smallest person can make a big difference. Recommended ages 3-8.

Cover of Wangari Maathai bookWangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

by Franck Prevot

Wangari Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a movement under the National Council of Women of Kenya to respond to the needs of rural Kenyan women, deforestation, and environmental degradation. This is an amazing true story about female leadership, racial divides, and environmental crises. Maathai’s work and the Green Belt Movement continue today. The book is also beautifully illustrated with vibrant scenery and people. Recommended ages 6-9.

Planting the Trees of Kenya book coverPlanting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai

by Claire A. Nivola

This is a wonderful book about the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who worked tirelessly to save the Kenyan environment and the people who live and work there. The story explained how the land was cleared of trees to plant crops to sell, and this changed how the local people ate. They no longer grew their own food and instead bought their food from stores, which was more expensive and less nutritional. Then, the land, stripped of trees with deep roots to hold moisture and hold soil in place, began eroding and drying out. This caused water shortages and small dust storms. Wangari worked to establish tree planting and educated people about the importance of preserving the local environment through the Green Belt Movement. Recommended ages 5-9.

Wangari's Trees of Peace book cover, illustration of Wangari planting trees in the soil, mountains in the background. Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

by Jeanette Winter

This is the story of Wangari Maathai for younger readers. She plants trees, encourages women to participate, and over time they plant millions of trees. Wangari attends college in the US and returns to further her mission. She is arrested for protesting deforestation, and the book depicts her being injured by police. She does not give up. Eventually, the land, lives, and biodiversity in Kenya improve. Her story is great! Recommended ages 3-7.

Cover art of Elephants Remember, with close up illustration of an elephant's face with a sunset over grass background.Elephants Remember: A True Story

by Jennifer O’Connell

I put this book under the “Environmental Leaders” category because while the book is about elephants, it is also about Lawrence Anthony. He was a conservationist who established the Thula Thula Reserve in South Africa. From the publisher: “This nonfiction picture book tells the story of Lawrence Anthony and the deep bond he forged with the matriarch of the herd he saved at his animal reserve in South Africa. When Lawrence died, the matriarch led all the elephants from remote parts of the reserve in a procession to his home, where they gathered to mourn him. They returned on the same day at the same time for the next two years — because elephants remember. This moving story of human-elephant mutual love and respect will inspire readers of all ages.” Recommended ages 4-8.

Cover art of The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav PayengThe Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

by Sophia Gholz

From the publisher: “As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make.” This book is also beautifully illustrated with vibrant imagery of animals and landscapes. Recommended ages 5-8.

Saving American Beach book coverSaving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch

by Heidi Tyline King

“This heartfelt picture book biography illustrated by the Caldecott Honoree Ekua Holmes, tells the story of MaVynee Betsch, an African American opera singer turned environmentalist and the legacy she preserved.” MaVynee’s great-grandfather first established American Beach on the Florida east coast during segregation as a destination for African American families. Post-segregation the area fell into disrepair until developers started building. MaVynee moved back to American Beach when her mother became ill and spent the remainder of her life trying to save it. Because of her efforts, the NaNa sand dune and American Beach became part of the National Park Service and later was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Florida Black Heritage Trail. She passed away in 2005. This book is a good starting place for learning about topics related to the environment, racism, and preservation. Recommended ages 4-8.

Old Enough to Save the Planet book coverOld Enough to Save the Planet

by Loll Kirby

This book is a great introduction to true stories of children across the world making a difference. From the publisher: “The world is facing a climate crisis like we’ve never seen before. And kids around the world are stepping up to raise awareness and try to save the planet…Meet 12 young activists from around the world who are speaking out and taking action against climate change. Learn about the work they do and the challenges they face, and discover how the future of our planet starts with each and every one of us.” The end of the book features things we can all do right now to make changes and additional resources. Recommended ages 8-12.

Heroes of the Environment book coverHeroes of the Environment: True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet

by Harriet Rohmer

This book features the true and inspiring stories of 12 people in North America who have achieved great environmental accomplishments! Stories of growing food for a local community; fighting a natural gas company to prevent pollution; helping to establish electronic waste laws; and many other amazing efforts. Recommended ages 9-14.

Spring after Spring book coverSpring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement

by Stephanie Roth Sisson

This beautifully illustrated and adorable book explains the importance of Rachel Carson’s work and begins with her childhood wander and wonder. This quest for knowledge about the natural world led Rachel to study science and to write about her observations and discoveries, especially about the dangerous chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers. Her work was so important that she is credited with starting the environmental movement. This is an awesome biography for young children. Rachel Carson wrote, “As human beings, we are part of the whole stream of life.” Recommended ages 4-8.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World book coverRachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

by Laurie Lawlor

This biography of environmentalist and writer, Rachel Carson, is slightly more advanced than the previous title. It provides a thorough overview of her life journey that led her to become an acclaimed author, including the challenges of having to care for her family members and the obstacles she faced because she was a woman. Recommended ages 6-9.

Untamed book coverUntamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

by Anita Silvey; foreword by Jane Goodall

This National Geographic Kids book tells the story of Dr. Jane Goodall’s life, from childhood to the present. Her bravery and breakthrough discoveries on chimpanzees and life in Africa exhibited in this book will inspire children. There are many photographs, maps, and charts to enhance the reader’s understanding. Recommended ages 8-12.

 

Cover of Harlem Grown bookHarlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood

by Tony Hillery

This book is about the true story of a man who transformed a vacant New York City lot into a lush garden with the help of kids from a local underfunded school. Those children and their families enjoy the bountiful produce from the garden, and Harlem Grown is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire youth through urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition. Recommended ages 4-8.

Energy Island book cover Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World

by Allan Drummond

This book explains the story of the Danish island of Samsø, which became a completely energy-independent community. In just ten years, they reduced their carbon emissions by 140% and become almost completely energy independent. This book is a great introduction to this story and to renewable energy sourcing. Many pages include accurate factual sections about fossil fuel dependence, renewable energy, global warming, and climate change. It’s inspiring and I intend to read more about Samsø! Recommended ages 6-10.

Pedal Power book cover Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World

by Allan Drummond

From Amazon: “Cycling rules the road in Amsterdam today, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1970’s, Amsterdam was so crowded with vehicles that bicyclists could hardly move, but moms and kids relied on their bicycles to get around the city. Pedal Power is the story of the people who led protests against the unsafe streets and took over a vehicles-only tunnel on their bikes, showing what a little pedal power could do!” Recommended ages 6-10.

Ocean Explorers

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist book coverShark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

by Jess Keating

This book captured the interest of son through the audiobook version – we listened to this book every day for about a month traveling to and forth school. The book not only tells the story of Eugenie Clark, but also promotes the protection of and education about all shark species. Recommended ages 4-8.

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle book coverLife in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

by Claire A. Nivola

This brief and simple biography of Dr. Sylvia Earle offers an age-appropriate introduction to this ocean explorer, scientist, and protector of oceans. The illustrations are detailed and colorful and the book mentions some of her greatest adventures, such as when she lived underwater for two weeks. “I wish that everybody could go live underwater if only for a day,” Dr. Earle wrote of the experience. The Author’s Note at the end has more detailed information about her life. Recommended ages 4-8.

Ocean Speaks book coverOcean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret

by Jess Keating

This book is about Marie Tharp, a geologist and oceanographic cartographer who mapped an underwater mountain ridge in the 1950s. She was the first to map the Earth’s mid-Atlantic ridge, supporting the theory of continental drift, which was still controversial in the scientific world. It took years for her map to be accepted. But what she discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet: a system of underwater mountain ranges spanning 40,000 miles. This colorfully illustrated book features additional information at the back of the book. Recommended ages 4-8.

Nature & Ecosystems

We Are the Ocean book coverWe Are the Ocean

by Captain Paul Watson

This book simply explains how we are all part of and bound to the ocean. The illustrations are beautiful and most feature a child with a dog, which is usually very appealing to children. From the publisher: “The author beautifully describes the importance of the ocean in sustaining life of all living plants and animals…When children learn that the ocean is part of them, they will hopefully learn to love and appreciate it, and take care of the ocean as they grow older.” Recommended ages 3-6.

Before the Saltwater Came book cover Before The Saltwater Came

by Captain Wendy Wilson Billiot, aka “The Bayou Woman”

This adorable story features an otter family which lives in the wetland marshes of Louisiana. Wetland loss and landscape changes over generations affect how the otters eat, play, and inhabit their environment. This story rings true to the damaging effects of dredging and oil digging, as well as global warming. We are losing one of the most important wetlands in the world. Recommended ages 8-12.

Bringing Back the Wolves book cover art, a gray and white wolf howling from atop a rock, with forest and mountains in background.Bringing Back the Wolves: How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem

by Jude Isabella

This is an excellent book about why humans should not mess with nature or ecosystems. The consequences are too great and they take decades to adjust back to normal. Humans killed off the wolf population at Yellowstone National Park in the 1800s. This had a negative effect on every other species, including animals, insects, plants, and trees. In the late 1990s, the government reintroduced wolves to the park. Twenty-five years later, “Wolves have helped to balance the ecosystem just by being themselves, apex predators. But perhaps even more important, studying the wolves has exposed just how complex and interconnected the ecosystem is, revealing surprising links no one could have imagined.” Recommended ages 8-12.

Cover of book features image of the rainforest, and the scientist walking across a bridge in the background, in order to climb and study the canopy.The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy

by Kathryn Lasky

My son had to read this book for school, and he liked it so much that he introduced me to it! This book is about scientist Meg Lowman, who has spent years studying the rainforest canopy. She studies and records the plant and animal life found more than 100 feet above the ground. The book features full-color photographs that document her work. The author explains the methods Lowman uses to conduct her research, sometimes under difficult circumstances. Lowman’s two sons accompany her on some of the studies. Recommended ages 9-13.

Life In Estuaries book cover, blue banner with white letters, a fiddler crab on the beach in photo, with images of an otter, fish, and pelican around the white border. Life In Estuaries

by Lauren Coss

This book clearly explains estuaries and the plants and animals in the estuary biome. This includes the mixture of fresh and seawater, the food chain, and the importance of oyster reefs. It has colorful photographs with captions identifying each one. Recommended ages 7-9.

 

The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean book cover, pirate floating in a duck raft at the ocean surface, with marine creatures swimming around the title under the surface.The Deep End: Real Facts About the Ocean

by Drew Sheneman

Using his comic strip humor, a pirate and a scientist explain the history of ocean exploration and the vast array of marine life in the deepest parts of the ocean. The book addresses human impacts on the ocean, such as plastic pollution, climate change, and oil drilling. “Imagine what we might find in the 90 percent of the ocean we haven’t explored yet.” This is such a fun book! Recommended ages 4-8.

Oceanography book cover, a scuba diver photographing a whale shark with its mouth open, blue ocean background and yellow border.Oceanography: The Study of Oceans

by Susan H. Gray

This book is a great introduction to the field of oceanography and Earth science in general. Recommended ages 8-10.

 

 

Redwoods book cover Redwoods

by Jason Chin

In this story, the boy reads a non-fiction book about Redwood trees while riding the train. His imagination while reading brings him to the California forests while learning about their history, growth, ecosystem, and great importance. It is packed with information, and I even learned a lot that I didn’t know, just from reading it to my son. It has beautiful illustrations and a page at the end about the endangerment of the Redwood forests. Recommended ages 4-8.

Be Thankful for Trees: A tribute to the many & surprising ways trees relate to our lives book cover, green cover with 9 circles of illustrations in the book, such as an owl, koala bear, and people using wood for objects.Be Thankful for Trees: A tribute to the many & surprising ways trees relate to our lives

by Harriet Ziefert

This book shows us the importance of trees. Trees provide food, shelter, and wood to construct things we use every day, such as furniture, instruments, and homes. They provide paper for art and writing, boats, and toys. Animals need trees for their habitats. Trees keep the air clean too! But we have to protect and be grateful for them. “Trees need protection from man-made destruction.” This book will teach appreciation for trees. Recommended ages 4-8.

Listen to the Language of the Trees book cover, a tree at top at root level, with 3/4 of the lower part showing intricate and colorful roots.Listen to the Language of the Trees: A story of how forests communicate underground

by Tera Kelley

This is an interesting book about how trees communicate. From the publisher: “This captivating book explores the real connection and communication that runs underground between trees in the forest. The well-researched details about trees’ own social network will help readers see that the natural world’s survival depends on staying connected and helping others―just like us!” Recommended ages 4-8.

Honeybee cover, illustrations of a close-up of a bee on a purple coneflower.Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

An award-winning book, this story of the lifecycle of a honeybee explains bee culture, honey production, and pollination. This is a remarkable book and a great source for learning. The end matter features a diagram of a bee’s body and an essay on the plight of honeybees. Bees are so important to the planet’s biodiversity. Recommended ages 4-10.

Galapagos book cover, iguana at center, colorful Galápagos

by DK; foreword by Steve Backshall

We learned a lot from this book, and the illustrations are attractive. From the publisher: “This is the ultimate book about the Galápagos for kids, covering the formation of the islands, the fascinating animals that live there, the evolutionary traits of the flora, the diverse climates, the brilliant conservation efforts and much more! This beautifully illustrated and photographic book provides a fascinating tour of the flora, fauna, and geology of the Galapágos islands. Children can learn about the unique and incredible wildlife, volcanoes, climate and Darwin’s theory of evolution from his visit to the Galápagos.” Recommended ages 7-11.

Tall Tall Tree book cover Tall Tall Tree

by Anthony D. Fredericks

This book is about the redwood forests along the northern Californian coast and its surrounding environment. It features the animals that inhabit the redwood forests. The story has a rhyming pattern with number counting. It’s fun to read to young children and early readers can enjoy it on their own. The end of the book features STEAM activities and scientific information about redwood trees and the habitat they create. It is also beautifully illustrated! Recommended ages 2-6.

 

Protecting Our Planet

One Child, One Planet: Inspiration for the Young Conservationist book coverOne Child, One Planet: Inspiration for the Young Conservationist

by Bridget McGovern Llewellyn

We love this book! The book rhymes like a long poem while teaching about conserving nature and slowing down climate change. The book is not illustrated; instead, it features beautiful photography of naturescapes and animals. It calls the reader to think about what changes they can make to help the planet through loving and caring actions. Recommended ages 5-8.

If We Were Gone: Imagining the World without People book cover, illustration of a piece of concrete building and a bridge in the background, with forest growing all around it, and a red fox stands next to the building piece.If We Were Gone: Imagining the World without People

by John Coy

What would happen to the Earth if humans disappeared? Nature would reclaim itself. The Earth and its elements do not need us to survive. Quite the opposite – we need air, water, heat, and plants to survive. So why don’t we take better care of our planet, our own habitat? This is a thought-provoking book and a good conversation starter, especially for young, imaginative minds. From the author: “What can we do? Acknowledging the problem is a big first step. Unfortunately, many adults are reluctant to admit that we have significant problems in taking care of our air, water, plants, and planet…This is the planet you are going to live on. What will you do to protect it?” Recommended ages 5-10.

Cover art has a planet behind the text of the title; navy blue universe sky with stars background.A Kid’s Guide to Saving the Planet: It’s Not Hopeless and We’re Not Helpless

by Paul Douglas

This book covers a wide variety of topics related to environmentalism and saving our habitat. It covers many technological innovations that are helping solve different problems and highlights kids across the world who have come up with ideas and innovations. The book offers kids a lot of hope without false optimism. It also features a section on careers that can help build a better future. Though recommended for ages 9-13, this is a great book for all readers.

Martha Go, Go, Goes Green! book coverMartha Speaks: Martha Go, Go, Goes Green!

by Susan Meddaugh

This book from the Martha Speaks series with a talking dog is about alternative energy sources and upcycling. Recommended ages 4-7.

 

 

Cover of The Lorax bookThe Lorax

by Dr. Seuss

This classic book explores consumerism, deforestation, and pollution through a colorful, imaginary world that children love. This story teaches children not to take advantage of our beautiful planet and to protect it. It also provides children with the inspiration that just one person, though small, can make a difference! This is a timeless must-read. Recommended ages 5-9.

 

Little Helpers book cover Little Helpers by Green Start

This board book may be difficult to find new or in a library, but worth searching for. There were several in the series. These books were “Made from 98% recycled materials” and eco-friendly ink. I actually purchased my copy at Whole Foods several years ago and this was one of my son’s favorites at the time. It featured an inspiring message of helping people, animals, and the environment. It was one of my son’s favorites! Recommended ages 2-4.

 

Book coverEco Babies Wear Green

by Michelle Sinclair Colman

I found this board book while I was pregnant at a museum gift shop in New York City, and began reading it to my son as soon as he was born. It is a very simple book about being eco-friendly with brightly colored illustrations. Another favorite from my son’s early years. Recommended ages birth-3.

Cover of bookEarth Day Every Day

by Lisa Bullard

In this cute story, a young girl explores what it means to celebrate Earth Day every day. She learns about planting trees, reusing, and trading items for reuse, reducing waste, and recycling. She starts an Earth Day Club with her school. Recommended ages 5-8.

 

Touch the Earth book cover Touch the Earth

by Julian Lennon

This is the first in a series of three books about making the world a better place through love, caring, and helpful efforts. I love this series, as they are inspiring to young children! Recommended ages 3-6.

Heal the Earth book coverHeal the Earth

by Julian Lennon

This is the second book in the series by Lennon. An interactive adventure that explores healing people, the ocean, the air, the rainforests, and the animals. “If we can all work together, we can make our planet better!” Recommended ages 3-6.

Love the Earth book coverLove the Earth

by Julian Lennon

The third book of this series, this interactive book shows children the beauty of the Earth, the connectedness of all people, the importance of keeping our environments clean, and the importance of helping each other. “Love is why we’re here. Help is what we give!” Recommended ages 3-6.

 

Wildlife & Endangered Species

Don't Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Across the Globe book cover art, giraffe, panda, elephant, polar bear, tiger, and otter with yellow background.Don’t Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Across the Globe

by Chelsea Clinton

This is a beautifully illustrated book featuring unique facts about twelve of our endangered species. The book also explains why each species is threatened with extinction. I highly recommend this book as an introduction or conversation starter with children about endangered species and how we can help. Recommended ages 4-8.

Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle book coverBeauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle

by Deborah Lee Rose and ane Veltkamp

This is an inspiring true story about an eagle that survived a gunshot wound to the face. But she lost most of her beak, the lifeline for a bird of prey. This is one story where plastic helped a beautiful creature, instead of harming her! Recommended ages 8-13.

Cover of Animal ArkAnimal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

by Joel Sartore and Kwame Alexander

This poetic book exposes children to the Photo Ark project, created by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. It features colorful, full-page portraits of about forty of the Earth’s most interesting creatures. Your child will view details of the textures and characteristics of each animal. I love this book and so does my son! Recommended ages 4-8.

The Animal Atlas: A Pictorial Guide to the World's Wildlife book cover, colorful animals around the title and gold design on cover.The Animal Atlas: A Pictorial Guide to the World’s Wildlife

illustrated by Kenneth Lilly

This is an absolutely beautiful book featuring animals across the world, covering geography, biology, and different climates. It features beautiful, life-like illustrations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. From the publisher: “Each species is carefully hand-drawn to show details of fur, feathers, or scales while accompanying captions reveal fascinating facts about the animal’s behavior…It travels through different biomes, such as forests, deserts, and lakes; and through specific regions, from the Everglades to the Galapagos, the Himalayas, and Great Barrier Reef.” This is one to keep on the shelf! Recommended ages 9-12.

Polar Bear cover art, mother polar bear with cubs lying on snow, purple and pink sky background. Polar Bear

by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

This story of a mother polar bear and her two cubs highlights the difficulties of melting sea ice and shorter seasons. Those challenges make it difficult for polar bears to hunt and survive. Climate change is significantly changing the landscape and habitats of polar bears, and they have become endangered. There’s lots of additional information at the end. Recommended ages 4-8.

 

Back from the Brink coverBack from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction

by Nancy F. Castaldo

This non-fiction book is targeted for ages 10-12 (grades 5-7), but I read it and learned a few new things. The book covers the history and current state of several species including Bald eagles, California condors, American alligators, the Galapagos tortoise, and the American bison. It also includes a brief history of legislation related to pollution, toxic chemicals, and the Endangered Species Act. This is a really good book to start with if your young reader or researcher is interested in this topic. Here is a quote from the book regarding lead in ammunition (which is highly poisonous and gets into the food chain): “On President Obama’s last day in office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an order phasing out the use of lead ammunition on national wildlife refuges by 2022. However, this phaseout was reversed by President Donald Trump’s appointee, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, on his first day in office less than three months later.” We can all do better! Recommended ages 10-12.

The Elephant Scientist book coverThe Elephant Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series

by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson

From the publisher: “In the sprawling African scrub desert of Etosha National Park, they call her “the mother of all elephants.” Camouflaged, holding binoculars closely to her eyes, Caitlin O’Connell–the American scientist who traveled to Namibia to study African elephants in their natural habitat—could not believe what she was seeing: as the mighty matriarch scanned the horizon, the other elephants followed suit, stopping midstride and standing as still as statues. Extraordinarily, this observation would be one of many to guide the scientist to a groundbreaking, crucial discovery. A major breakthrough in the study of elephant communication was afoot.” The book includes maps, a glossary, and lists of additional resources. Recommended ages 10-12.

True Stories about Animals 

Saving Fiona The Story of the World's Most Famous Baby Hippo book cover Saving Fiona The Story of the World’s Most Famous Baby Hippo

by Thane Maynard

This hippo was born prematurely at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in 2017. It was the first time a baby hippo had been born prematurely in captivity, and this is Fiona’s story. The team of doctors, zoologists, and scientists worked together to ensure her survival. The book is filled with color photos of Fiona’s progress. This was heart-warming, especially since hippos are a threatened species. It’s a great and engaging story for any age! Recommended ages 4-7.

Tarra & Bella book cover Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends

Tarra became the first resident of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee after retiring from the circus. Tarra was not close to other elephants, but when she met a stray dog named Bella, the two became best friends and were inseparable. They ate together, slept together, and even understood each other! When Bella suffered a severe spinal injury, Tarra was by her side through Bella’s recovery. This is a beautifully photographed and true story of an unlikely friendship!

Cover of the The Spirit of Springer bookThe Spirit of Springer: The Real-Life Rescue of an Orphaned Orca

by Amanda Abler

This is the true story about the 2003 rescue of Springer, a Northern Resident Orca who got separated from her pod after her mother (likely) passed away. Several organizations and scientists worked together to identify, rehabilitate, and return her to her pod off of the coast of British Columbia. It’s an endearing and accurate account of Springer’s journey. The book features additional information and resources as well. Recommended ages 7-10.

A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story book cover, a penguin in foreground and 7 in the background of an exhibit with tan rocks and blue water.A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

by Suzanne Lewis

This is a true story of a whole exhibit of penguins at New Orleans’s Audubon Aquarium that were evacuated right after Hurricane Katrina. They were moved to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for nine months until they could be returned to New Orleans. Patience was one of the penguins, which this story focuses on. Recommended ages 4-8.

Orca Rescue! The True Story of an Orphaned Orca Named Springer

by Donna Sandstrom

This book is an accurate account of Springer’s journey, but the book is for slightly older readers than The Spirit of Springer. From the publisher: “A captivating account of the only successful orca rescue and reunion in history told in first person by Donna Sandstrom, a citizen participant of the rescue…Orcas and their survival are a topical issue, and readers will discover what it’s like on the front lines of whale rescue, including the collaboration and teamwork that are required.” Recommended ages 8-12.

Koko-Love! book cover, Penny and Koko the Gorilla signing together.Koko-Love! Conversations With a Signing Gorilla

by Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson

This is Koko the Gorilla’s story. Koko was able to learn and communicate with American Sign Language, showing an understanding of words for objects, actions, and emotions. She even had kittens as pets over the years. Sadly, Koko passed away in 2018. But the organization is still active with one other gorilla, Ndume, and their mission focuses on conservation and fostering programs that help and study primates. Visit koko.org for more information. This book is a great way to learn the story of Koko, Penny, and the other gorillas in their care. Recommended ages 8-12.

Yoshi and the Ocean book cover, sea turtle in the sea illustratedYoshi and the Ocean: A Sea Turtle’s Incredible Journey Home

by Lindsay Moore

This is a true story about Yoshi the sea turtle who was rescued and rehabilitated and eventually released. It is beautifully illustrated and visually explores the problems sea turtles face during their voyages. Yoshi lived at an aquarium in South Africa for 20 years before being released. She traveled 25,000 miles in 1,003 days to find her way home. I highly recommend this book, as it tells a story while examining environmental problems. Recommended ages 4-8.

Evolution

When the whales walked book coverWhen the Whales Walked: And Other Incredible Evolutionary Journeys

by Dougal Dixon

This book is an excellent scientific exploration of evolution. It was awarded an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students: K–12 in 2019 from the National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council. It is well-organized,  beautifully illustrated, and fascinating. While a children’s book, I learned a good deal from it myself and recommend that anyone who wants to learn about evolution read it. We borrow most books from the library, but this is a book I plan to purchase and keep on the shelf for my son. Recommended ages 8-12.

Island: A Story of the Galápagos book cover, tortoises and birds looking off into the distance at an active volcano.Island: A Story of the Galápagos

by Jason Chin

This book explains the formation of the Galápagos Islands and the evolution of the species that inhabit them. It is beautifully illustrated with accurate depictions of the changes species experienced over time. Recommended ages 4-8.

 

 

Giving

Kids Guide to Giving book coverA Kids Guide to Giving

by Freddi Zeiler

This guide provides kids with the knowledge to be able to give money, raise money, donate goods, and/or volunteer for charitable organizations. It includes practical safety measures and how to verify that a charity is legitimate. Although it could use an update since it was published in 2006, much of the material is still relevant and this is a great guide for children and young teens to get started with. Recommended ages 9-14.