Sustainability Literature for Children

A Cool Drink of Water (2006) Barbarta Kerley.  National Geographic Children’s Books
Simple sentences and beautiful photographs of people from all over the world illustrate the use of the essential substance of water and conveys the need for water conservation.

A Tree in the Ancient Forest (1995) Carol Reed-Jones.  Dawn Publ.
A 300-year-old fir tree is the main character in a forest drama depicting the cycle of interdependence between plants and animals. The truffles that grow on the roots of the fir tree are food for the mice, who in turn, are food for the owls living in the hollow of the tree that was created by a woodpecker, and so on.  Beautiful illustrations!

A Walk in the Rainforest (1992) Kristin Joy Pratt. Dawn Publ.
A beautifully illustrated alphabet book.  Each letter features an animal or plant found in the rain forest with an explanatory paragraph. Interposing her factual material with warnings about endangered species, deforestation, and the harm coming to native peoples.

Aani and the Tree Huggers (2000) Jeannine Atkins.  Lee & Low Books
Based on true events in northern India, this is the story of a little girl’s bravery. One day, Aani hears the roaring of the tree cutters. Hoping to get the workers to put down their saws and hatchets, Aani and the village women explain that the trees provide food, fuel, and homes for animals, but to no avail. Finally, Aani wraps her body around one of the trees, with surprising results. Beautiful gouache illustrations accompany the moving story.

The Butterfly’s Treasure (2009) Schim Schimmel. Schimmelsmith publ.
An exquisite fairy tale told by a master artist. It tells of an enchanted journey made by a magic Monarch. Schim’s exquisitely crafted pictures will enchant children. The story will help them to love and respect the amazing animals with whom we share the planet – the Treasures that are all around us if we would but open our eyes….Jane Goodall

The Curious Garden (2009) Peter Brown.  Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.  This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms.

Curious George Plants a Tree (2010) H. A. Rey.  HMH books
When Curious George hears about an upcoming recycling rally, he decides to recycle and loads empty cartons and found newspapers into his wagon. His neighbors, angry to find their just-delivered newspapers gone, chase George all the way to the rally. After the man with the yellow hat arrives and explains George’s mistake, everyone stays to help plant trees. The book concludes with 20 child-centered “Living Green” tips.

The Earth and I (2008) Frank Asch. Sandpiper
A lovely book.  Asch’s paintings show the child in close harmony with nature as he rides the back of a tortoise, plants vegetables, sings with the birds, and dances in the wind. Pollution mars their play towards the end (“When she’s sad, I’m sad”), but he cleans up the garbage, plants a new flower, and hugs a tree on the final page

The Great Kapok Tree (2000)  Lynn Cherry. Sandpiper
An absolute favorite.  Cherry combines illustrations that reveal a naturalist’s reverence for beauty with a myth like story that explains the ecological importance of saving the rain forests.  A beautifully written and illustrated book.

The Lorax (Classic Seuss) (1971) Theodore Seuss Geisel.  Random House Books
Dr. Seuss surprises us sometimes with his prescience.  The Lorax is an ecological warning that still rings true today amidst the dangers of clear-cutting, pollution, and disregard for the earth’s environment.

Michael Recycle (2008) Ellie Bethel. Worthwhile Books
Bright illustrations and a humorous and lively rhyming pattern make this a fun book for young children.  Michael Recycle tells the adventures of a young superhero whose power allows him to teach people about recycling.

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem (2000)  Linda Glaser. Milbrook Press
Vivid art and lyrical poetry create a joyful celebration of the interconnectedness of all living things.  The author shares the important environmental message that we share the planet not only with all the people of the world, but with the plant and animal worlds as well.

Play with Me (1976) Marie Hall Etts. Puffin
This exquisite classic book is a beautiful introduction to the concept of respecting and appreciating the fauna inhabiting a meadow.

 Why Should I Bother about the Planet? (2008) Susan Meredith. Usborn Publ.
Appropriate for older children, 7 – 10.  This book gives short explanations about ecological issues such as global warming, energy conservation, recycling, etc., and what to do to make a difference.

Why Should I Recycle? (A Series, including Why Should I Protect Nature, Save Energy, Save Water) (2005). Jen Green.  Barron’s Educational Series
This four-book Why Should I? series demonstrates the importance of protecting nature. Each book presents brief, stories that answer children’s questions and feature whimsical color illustrations. A note at the back of each book is for parents and teachers, suggesting ways to use these books most effectively.

World Water Watch (1999) Michelle Koch.  Greenwillow Books
A sensitive subject, beautifully presented. This book visits six endangered sea creatures in their home waters–from Alaska to Maui, from Chile to Norway.  The book describes ecological problems effecting the animals and, when applicable, some of the measures that have been taken to insure the animals’ survival.

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