Climate Education

15 books for budding environmentalists

Through the transformational power of storytelling, books can inspire your students to make a difference, even in the face of our planet’s greatest challenges. As the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaches, we compiled a list of some of our favorite books on the environment and hope it helps motivate a future generation of environmentalists.

To help you find the book that’s right for you, we’ve divided the list by age group:

Age: Infant – 3 years old

Baby Loves Green Energy! by Ruth Spiro

Explore the Earth’s climate with your child and learn how green energy can help protect our planet.

Hello, World! Ocean Life, by Jill McDonald

Learn about the ocean’s creatures, big and small, in this colorful book. “Our big blue oceans are full of life. Dive in and take a look!”

Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon

“When a little bat gets separated from her mother, she learns a big lesson about friendship in the unlikeliest of places.”

Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee

“In this charming picture book, one spunky girl discovered just who like rain – and who doesn’t – as she explores the rainy day habits of the world around her.”

Age: 4 – 6 years old

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

A beloved classic by Dr. Seuss, this book explores how one child can make a difference if they speak up and stand up for those who can’t. This must-read book is “timely, playful, and hopeful.”

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa, by Jeanette Winter

This story is about Goldman Environmental Prize and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai, who set out on a mission to restore her home forests in Kenya.

The Wolves are Back, by Jean Craighead George

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of how the balance and health of an ecosystem were restored when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park.

Our Community Garden, by Barbara Pollak

“This heartfelt story captures the excitement of children getting their hands dirty and learning to nurture living things for the first time.”

Age: 7 – 10 years old

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, by Miranda Paul, Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions can really make a difference in our world.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World, by Laurie Lawlor, Illustrated by Laura Beingessner

Follow Rachel Carson’s journey from a curious young naturalist to an influential female scientist whose work sparked the modern environmental movement.

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Seas Turtles, by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Meilo So

A young girl in a new home works to save the sea turtles on her beach. A Letter to Young Activists from Philippe Cousteau is sure to inspire readers to start a project in their community!

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem, by Linda Glaser

This colorful and lyrical book illustrates how humans relate to each other and all other living things in Our Big Home of planet Earth.

Age: 11 – 13 years old

A Drop Around the World, by Barbara Shaw McKinney

Follow a raindrop around the world through the entire water cycle.

The Shark Whisperer (Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians), by Dr. Ellen Prager

A young group of Sea Guardians who can communicate with sharks and other marine life protect animals in the ocean surrounding the Bahamas.

How We Know What We Know About our Changing Climate, by Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch

This book helps us understand the science of climate change from the scientists working on the issue.

Paddle-to-the-Sea, by Holling C. Holling

A young Native American boy travels from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, learning about the landscape as he goes.

Age: 13 years and older

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, by Paul Fleischman

This book helps us understand our current environmental issues through real-world scenarios.

Endangered (Ape Quartet), by Eliot Schrefer

A young woman protects Bonobos in the conflict-stricken region in the Congo.

Prodigal Summer: A Novel, by Barbara Kingsolver

This novel covers three stories of people connecting to nature in the Appalachian Mountains.

Do you use environmental books with your students? Tell us about it! Email your stories to [email protected] and we may feature you in an upcoming Educator Network Newsbites.