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Posted on March 4, 2020 at 6:00 am
Although Earth Day isn’t until April 22, the blue skies, longer days, chirping birds, and tiny green spears of germinating bulbs are enough to remind us of the everyday beauty of our planet—and the increasingly alarming need for wise stewardship of it.
While it can be tricky to talk to kids about environmental concerns, young people often have lots of questions and are able to think creatively about possible solutions. These books strike the right balance between unnecessarily frightening scenarios and cuddly, everything-is-fine denial, evoking why it’s so important for all of us to be thinking environmentally.
What a Waste: Trash, Recycling and Protecting Our Planet, by Jess French
From single-use disposables to inefficient homes, this brightly illustrated book explores all the negative ways in which we’re affecting our environment, while also highlighting positive solutions such as renewable energy and rescuing throwaway items. (Ages 7–10)
Our House Is On Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet, by Jeanette Winter
Illustrator Jeanette Winter’s folk-art style is perfectly paired to her modern day hero subject, Greta Thunberg. Winter lays out how Thunberg went from being the shy girl-in-the-back to an internationally recognized voice for a beleaguered planet. (Ages 4–9)
Don’t Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Across the Globe, by Chelsea Clinton
Clinton, author of She Persisted, introduces 12 beloved and endangered species, including the polar bear, the African elephant, the tiger, and the black rhinoceros, along with facts about their habitats and how they might be brought back from the brink of extinction. (Ages 4–8)
Join the No-Plastic Challenge: A First Book of Reducing Waste, by Scot Ritchie
If you’ve ever been to a young child’s birthday party, you know the single-use plastic items can pile up in a hurry. In Join the No Plastic Challenge, Nate and his young friends celebrate his birthday with a no-plastic picnic and demonstrate how even small children can be environmentally aware. (Ages 4–7)
The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs, by Kate Messner
Inspired by a childhood spent swimming in Florida waters, Ken Nedimeyer discovers a possible cure for dying coral reefs around the world. This beautifully illustrated picture book biography offers a real world example of hope. (Ages 6–9)
Blue Planet: Life in Our Oceans and Rivers, by Moira Butterfield
Exploring lakes, oceans, rivers and more, Blue Planet showcases water-dwelling creatures as well as giving a clear introduction to the water cycle. (Ages 6–9)
Green Planet: Life in Our Woods and Forests, by Moira Butterfield
Butterfield makes a case for how trees are a vital part of our survival, from the oxygen they produce to the cover they provide for numerous species of animals and insects. (Ages 6–9)
The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter, by Shabazz Larkin
In engaging close-ups and sun-dappled colors, a father joyfully persuades his two young sons to see beyond bee stings to nature’s perfect and hardworking pollinator. (Ages 3–7)
Start Now: You Can Make a Difference, by Chelsea Clinton
Designed for middle grade readers, Start Now delves into issues such as health, hunger, endangered species, climate change, and bullying and offers practical ideas for how kids can make the world a better place—both locally and globally. (Ages 7–10)