We all know that books are great ways to entertain our children, but we also know that books are a great education resource too. Countless studies have told us that reading to our children, or encouraging them to read by themselves, stimulates imagines, expands vocabulary, develops higher I.Qs, improves attention spans and develops analytical and logical thinking.
One of the most important aspects of books has always been the power to teach children the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. In today’s world, where the environment and issues around the environment are becoming increasingly important, books provide us with a fantastic resource to educate our children about this topic.
To make things a little easier for you, I’ve compiled a list of eco-friendly books for children, along with summaries of each.
1. The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up
by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen
Starting off in the classroom, the children are told that they have to do a science project about air pollution. Because they don’t know much about air pollution, they go on a field trip to learn some more information. On the way they learn why clean air is important and what they can do to keep it clean.
The book was sponsored by the EPA and includes a checklist with tips on how to keep the air clean such as, “ask your bus driver to turn off the engine when the bus is parked.”
Buy it: Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up
2. Mars, Jimmy, and Me
by Barrett K. Hays
The main character, Jimmy, lives on Mars and has to be very careful not to leave the “covered planet zone”. The book follows Jimmy when he breaks a rule by bringing a blue beetle (who he names Clarissa) from Earth back to Mars with him. Clarissa then comes to the rescue and saves the day, proving that bugs are out friends!
Buy it: Mars, Jimmy and Me
3. A House Is A House For Me
by Mary Ann Hoberman
A House Is A House For Me is a beautifully written rhyming book. The story looks at different houses and who lives in each one: “A hill is a house for an ant, an ant. A hive is a house for a bee. A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse. And a house is a house for me!”
The poem finishes with a very clear message to all its readers, “Each creature that’s known has a house of its own. And the Earth is a house for us all.”
Buy it: A House Is a House for Me
4. I Know the River Loves Me/ Yo se que el rio me ama
Written and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
This bilingual book tells the story of a little girl named Maya and her relationship with a river.
In the story, whenever Maya visits the river, it jumps up to greet her. It cools her in the summer, and keeps her company in winter. Maya tells us that the river takes care of her, and she takes care of it. Gonzalez writes about the environment in a way that’s easily understood by children, explaining that the world and its resources keep us safe and that we, in turn, should keep it safe.
5. The Lorax
by Dr. Seuss
No children’s book list is ever complete without Dr. Seuss.
The Lorax, written back in 1971 and recently made into a film in 2012, is a cautionary tale about damaging the environment for industrial gain. The story, which tells us of a creature called the “Once-ler” who cut down all the “Truffula trees” for the “biggering and biggering” of his manufacturing operation, goes on to lament the loss of their once beautiful eco-system:
Once-ler! He cried with a cruffulous croak.
Once-ler! Your’re making such a smogulous smoke
My poor Swomee-Swans…why, they can’t sing a note
No one can sing who has smog in his throat.
Buy the book: The Lorax (Classic Seuss)
Buy the movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
6. The Trouble With Dragons
by Debi Gliori
In this tale we see a planet populated by self-centered, careless and selfish dragons who don’t care about pollution or sustainability. The dragons, who chop down wood and eat all the food, now realize that they’re in trouble because of their lifestyle.
The dragons start to rethink their behaviour.
Buy it: The Trouble with Dragons
7. Hey! What’s That Nasty Whiff?
by Julia Jarman and GarryParsons
The main protagonist in this tale is a hyena who ‘s fed up with cleaning up after all of the other animals. Encouraged by the culture, the hyena takes a rest from all their cleaning.
At first, nobody notices. But of course, eventually they do resulting in them coming together and realizing that saving the planet is a chore for everybody.
Buy it: Hey! What’s That Nasty Whiff?
8. The Wombles to the Rescue
by Elisabeth Beresford
After having to leave their burrow because big heavy lorries threatened to make the roof cave in, the Wombles return safely back. But they’re not safe yet, as the Wombles have noticed now that the humans have realized there’s an energy crisis, they’re not throwing away as much for the Wombles to gather!
Buy it: The Wombles to the Rescue
9. Horrible Science: Wasted World
by Nick Arnold and Tony DeSaulles
If you like Horrible Histories, you’ll like the Horrible Science series too! Wasted World tackles environmental issues such as climate change, global warming, toxic waste and greenhouse gases. With plenty of fantastic facts, quizzes and cool cartoons, this book is for the slightly older child, but definitely worth a look
Buy it: Wasted World (Horrible Science)
by Andrew Peters
Another one for older children is Ravenwood by Andrew Peters.
The main protagoinist, Ark, is a 14 year old plumber boy who lives in Arborium, a beautiful forest island that has been carved out of the giant branches of a huge canopy of trees. One day, Ark overhears a plan to cull the tree for wood, that’s now more previous than gold itself.
Ark, the unsuspecting hero, then finds himself racing to the deepest and darkest roots of Ravenwood in order to save his home. The tale is a cautionary one, that warns against not being green.
Buy it: Ravenwood
There are obviously plenty of fantastic books out there for children of all ages to read and become more environmentally aware! If we haven’t mentioned one of your favourites, please share in the comments!