Picture Books for Young Environmentalists

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Picture Books for Young Environmentalists

Do you have a passionate recycler in your house? A plant and animal enthusiast? An aficionado of the latest energy-saving efforts? Then this book list is for them. Below is a list of several fiction and non-fiction picture books for all the plant-loving young readers out there. Stories about saving the environment in China during the cultural revolution, to a determined girl in present day United States-- there's an array of books to encourage your young environmentalist on this list. 

Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf by Olivia Bouler – This nonfiction book is written by a young, passionate environmentalist, who was concerned about the plight of birds in her local town after an oil spill. To raise money to help the birds, she wrote to the Audubon Society and proposed a unique plan. Learn fascinating facts about birds and how her plan grew wings and eventually flew to local lawmakers and the news.

Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root – How does a garden grow? It starts with one determined environmentalist. In fun, rhyming text, this book shows the plethora of places where plants can grow, and how they can grow community. Set in a diverse community with delightful illustrations by G. Brian Karas, this book shows a farm can take many shapes and sizes.

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer – The youngest environmentalists will have fun naming the different animals and plants in this book. And it will sprout conversations about ecosystems and how they connect plants and animals into a cycle, as this book eventually returns to where it started… with an acorn.

Citizen Scientists: Be Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns – Want to be a part of the environmental movement and help study animals? This book explains how kids make the best “Citizen Scientists” with real-life examples, like a pair of young scientists, one in United States and one in Mexico who tag and study butterfly migration patterns. With practical suggestions, packing lists and information about how their data will contribute to wider studies, this book is full of opportunities for young budding scientists.

City Green by DyAnne Disalvo-Ryan – Sometimes the best projects are right in our own backyards. For those interested in Community Gardens, here is a rousing tale about one girl who took an abandoned lot in her neighborhood and turned it into something amazing, despite the grousing of one of her elder neighbors.  Included at the end are tips on how to start a community garden.

Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker - Based on a real event in China, this book delves into the effect of removing one animal from an ecosystem. In this instance: sparrows. Would chasing away the sparrows increase the farmer’s crop or decimate it? Ming-Li ‘s quiet courage saves the day in this story that ends with an author’s note about the real Sparrow War. A good way to learn about a bit of environmental history through a quick story.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor - What is the story behind the well-known environmental book, Silent Spring and its author, Rachel Carson? Find out in this delightfully illustrated picture book biography. Read about Rachel’s courage and perseverance in the face of the Depression, being the sole breadwinner for her family and criticism from the chemical industry. A lengthy author’s note at the end continues the story of Rachel’s impact after her death, showing how her actions spread and brought awareness to air pollution and other environmental issues.

A Symphony of Whales by Steve Schuch- What can save thousands of beluga whales trapped in ice in Siberia? One little girl knows the answer. Her name is Glashka and she hears the song of whales when others hear just wind. Based on a real event, this lyrical book looks at an environmental rescue from an interesting perspective: music.  A great book to show that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is not the most obvious.

We are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child - Charlie and Lola decide to take on recycling-- to save the planet and earn a tree. But can they win the contest themselves to collect 1000 things to recycle or will they need help before it’s too late? This book includes a great explanation about recycling and its importance and gives examples of products are made from recycled materials.

Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter – How can trees make a difference? This book, beautifully illustrated by the author tells the true story of Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work reinstating trees in Kenya. This book clearly and very simply shows how the lack of trees affected the community and their crops through an increase in erosion. Wangari’s quiet act of planting trees changed her country and community profoundly and will show young readers how their small actions can have a big impact.