“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Margaret Fuller, 1840
Reading a good picture book is one of our favorite ways to captivate and teach students. Books engage children on an emotional level. Research on environmental literature suggests that it can have a lasting impact, increasing students awareness and encouraging them to take action in protecting our planet. We found so many inspiring books that can foster students’ imaginations. These are stories of people taking action and making a difference in their communities.
By Dr. Seuss
“Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.” Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth’s natural beauty.
Lesson Plan for The Lorax: “Who Speaks for the Trees?” Part A: Grades 2-8 Part B: Grades 6-8 Variation: Grades 4-6 This lesson plan can be used in science, language arts or social studies and teaches students the importance of sustainable stewardship.
Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter To Our Planet
By: April Pulley Sayre
Acclaimed children’s book author and photographer April Pulley Sayre’s love letter to Earth is a stunning exploration of the beauty and complexity of the world around us. Remarkable photographs and a rich, layered text introduce concepts of science, nature, geography, biology, poetry, and community. Includes kid-friendly ideas for conservation projects information about the photographs, and additional resources.
By Jacqueline Briggs Martin et al.
Once upon a time a creek burbled up and tumbled across a prairie valley. It was filled with insects and brook trout that ate them, frogs that chirruped and birds watching for bugs and fish. This is a true story about a man named Mike who went looking for that creek long after it was buried under fields of corn. It is the story of how a creek can be brought back to life, and with it a whole world of nature.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
By Miranda Paul
Summary: Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. Isatou Ceesay e found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.
The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree is a poignant story of friendship between the selfless apple tree and a boy. They used to enjoy each others’ company when the boy was still little but when he grew up, his priorities changed and he had other needs.
Lesson Plan This is a high school age lesson plan for The Giving Tree looking at ways in which various American cities negotiate the protection of their “green infrastructure,” gaining a broader understanding of proposed and enacted legislation as it relates to preserving and planting trees in urban environments.
The Trouble with Dragons
By Debi Gliori
The world is populated by some beastly dragons who care nothing for how much they pollute the oceans, chop down the trees, gobble up all the food and use everything up without stopping to think. Those dragons need to wake up to what they are doing to their world before it is too late …An energy-filled picture book that addresses concerns about the environment in the most child-centric and delightful way possible.
Aani and the Tree Huggers
By Jeannine Atkins
Summary: Based on true events in India in the 1970s, young Aani and the other women in her village defend their forest from developers by wrapping their arms around the trees, making it impossible to cut them down.
The Tree Lady
By H. Joseph Hopkins
Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens.
Ada’s Violin: Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
By Susan Hood
From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.
Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth
By Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Summary: Acclaimed Caldecott Artist Molly Bang teams up with award-winning M.I.T. professor Penny Chisholm to present the fascinating, timely story of fossil fuels.
What are fossil fuels, and how did they come to exist? This engaging, stunning book explains how coal, oil, and gas are really “buried sunlight,” trapped beneath the surface of our planet for millions and millions of years.
Now, in a very short time, we are digging them up and burning them, changing the carbon balance of our planet’s air and water. What does this mean, and what should we do about it?
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
by Franck Prevot et al.
Summary: Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. This beautiful picture book tells the story of an amazing woman and an inspiring idea.
Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World
By Jen Cullerton Johnson
A picture book biography of scientist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman and first environmentalist to win a Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004), for her work planting trees in her native Kenya.
Arthur Turns Green
By Marc Brown
Summary: Arthur comes home from school and begins sneaking around the house, taking notes and talking about a Big Green Machine. D.W. is suspicious of her brother’s weird behavior, but when Arthur shows up late for dinner with green hands, she really gets the creeps! But it turns house Arthur is making a poster listing all the ways to save energy at home–and go green!
Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green
By Eileen Spinelli
Summary: When Miss Fox shows up at school riding her bicycle, Mouse asks, “Do you have a flat tire?” “No,” Miss Fox tells her students. “I am going green!” Soon everyone in the class is working to keep the earth healthy. Mouse takes shorter showers (and does her singing after!); Bunny brings a cloth bag to the supermarket; and Possum turns the lights off when he goes out. And Miss Fox’s simple act has ripples even beyond her own students…soon the whole school starts riding their bikes—including the principal.
The Drop in my Drink: The Story of Water on Our Planet
By Meredith Hooper and Chris Coady
Summary: This is the story of a drop of water, told by a gifted science writer and illustrated with remarkable paintings. Meredith Hooper takes us back thousands of years to see where the Earth’s water came from, and how life began in the oceans and later moved onto land. She describes the water cycle, the relationship between water and living things and between water and erosion. She also discusses important environmental issues and provides a fascinating collection of water facts.
The Magic School Bus And The Climate Challenge
By Joanna Cole
Summary: Trust the bestselling science series of all time to get down to the facts on global warming, so kids can understand the crisis – and how they can help solve it.
With Mrs. Frizzle and bright, action-filled illustrations make the science easy to understand and fun to learn. This team brings a new, improved understanding to climate change, engaging kids and empowering all. Teachers will cheer!
A Place for Frogs
By Melissa Stewart
Summary: In simple yet informative language, award-winning children’s science writer Melissa Stewart introduces readers to some of the ways human action or inaction can affect frog populations. More than just a book about frogs, A Place for Frogs will open readers minds to a wide range of environmental issues.
The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families
By Susan L. Roth et al.
Summary: For a long time, the people of Hargigo, a village in the tiny African country of Eritrea, were living without enough food for themselves and their animals. The families were hungry, and their goats and sheep were hungry too. Then along came a scientist, Dr. Gordon Sato, who helped change their lives for the better. And it all started with some special trees.
Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
By Phillip Hoose
Summary: National Book Award–winning author Phillip Hoose takes us around the hemisphere with the world’s most celebrated shorebird, showing the obstacles rufa red knots face, introducing a worldwide team of scientists and conservationists trying to save them, and offering insights about what we can do to help shorebirds before it’s too late. With inspiring prose, thorough research, and stirring images, Hoose explores the tragedy of extinction through the triumph of a single bird. Moonbird is one The Washington Post’s Best Kids Books of 2012
The Curious Garden
By Peter Brown