Experts agree: if you want to help kids learn, read to them. According to the report Becoming A Nation of Readers, reading aloud is “the single most important activity” for cultivating successful readers, and there are plenty of studies that show how reading contributes to children’s academic success.
Even when children are too young to understand, reading exposes them to language, and a story-time routine can be a powerful bonding experience.
As kids grow, books teach them about the world and help them become emotionally aware. So it’s the perfect time to introduce children’s books about sustainability.
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Sustainability for kids – why reading books is the perfect introduction
Children’s brains are designed to absorb knowledge and learn new behaviors. So when we read kids books about sustainability, they internalize the mindset of wasting less and protecting nature, and they can easily develop habits that will carry into adulthood.
Beyond just caring for the environment, practicing sustainability is a great way to build children’s character since it involves being patient, considering others, and developing a sense of responsibility.
Learning about sustainability can empower kids to start making a difference in their communities from an early age.
Despite their youth, children can have a clarity of thought and purpose that influences others and makes even adults reconsider their actions. Just look at Greta Thunberg, whose straightforward perspective on climate change and world politics sparked a worldwide movement.
If you want to help children become part of creating a “happily ever after” instead of just reading about it, check out these suggestions for some of the top children’s books about sustainability.
Top 12 Books About Sustainability for Kids
However old your children are, it’s never too early to learn about treating the world we live in with respect. Below, we’ve detailed some of our favorite books for kids to learn about sustainability in a format that’s fun and age-appropriate for every stage. Happy reading!
Author: April Pulley Sayre
The first step toward sustainability is simply recognizing what we have and how precious it is.
Thank You, Earth is a simple, poetic book for kids 4-8 years old that teaches them how to say thank you to the Earth for everything it gives us.
Illustrated with beautiful photographs, it showcases the wonders of our world and helps kids learn basic nature vocabulary in addition giving them a powerful lesson in gratitude.
Kids vs. Plastic: Ditch the Straw and Find the Pollution Solution to Bottles, Bags, and Other Single-Use Plastics
Author: National Geographic Kids
Kids can be waste warriors too! Kids vs. Plastic is full of statistics about plastic use, interviews with leading explorers and researchers, and sustainability facts for kids.
Great for budding scientists and environmentalists ages 8-12, this book will have them citing evidence to back up their actions and maybe even schooling the adults in their lives.
Author: Loll Kirby
An inspiring read for any aspiring activist, this beautifully illustrated book tells of 12 children from around the globe who are shaping the planet with their initiatives.
It proves that anyone can help tackle climate change – no matter how old you are. And delivers practical tips for how your kids can start working towards a greener future – both at school and at home.
Author: Rana DiOrio
“Does it mean looking like a frog, or a pickle, or an alien? No!” With fun illustrations and simple text, this book teaches young children the real meaning of being green by giving examples of actions like eating locally grown food and turning lights on only when you need them.
Recommended for ages 4-8, this book teaches kids the basics of sustainable living and reminds adults as well.
Author: Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
From the brilliant Little People, Big Dreams series comes this gift box set featuring three people that have been instrumental in helping to protect our planet – Jane Goodall, Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough.
These unique books tell the tale of these ‘earth heroes’ from when they were children – to how they got to where they are today.
Beautifully inspiring and relatable reading for children of all ages. Can’t wait for the box set to come out? The books are available separately too.
Author: Lauren Child
Featuring quirky dialogue and collage-like illustrations, Charlie & Lola books are a hit with young children everywhere.
In this instalment of their adventures, Lola’s out to win a recycling competition and the prize of her very own tree to plant.
With plenty of recycling tips included, it’s great for teaching kids ages 3-8 what recycling is, and inspiring them to start their very own recycling projects.
Author: Melissa Stewart Allen Young
Where does chocolate come from? And how is that related to monkeys?
No Monkeys, No Chocolate shows kids ages 5-9 how natural systems are interdependent through its colorful illustrations and scientifically accurate details.
With cute sidebar conversations but challenging text, this book is perfect for precocious, chocolate-loving kids and their parents.
Author: Jen Green
If you have a kid that’s always asking ‘Why?’ this is the book for them.
Why Should I Save Water? answers the titular question with entertaining stories and colorful illustrations, showing kids the importance of not wasting water and teaching them what they and their families can do.
Perfect for curious kids 4-7 years old, it’s part of the “Why Should I” series of sustainability books for kids which also has titles about protecting nature, recycling, and saving energy.
Author: Michael J. Caduto
Have a future engineer at home? Turn them on to renewable energy.
Containing 22 sustainability projects for kids, Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun will have them building everything from a balloon wind gauge to a bicycle-powered generator.
Beyond the projects themselves, it includes background information, inspirational stories, and energy case studies. It’s sure to spark creativity in 8-12 year olds and get them thinking like scientists in no time!
Author: Valentina Camerini
Greta Thunberg is an inspiration to many, but especially to kids. From her early days in front of Stockholm’s parliament building to leading a global movement, this book tells her story.
With nine chapters and additional sections explaining global warming and actions to take, this book is good for kids from 8-12 years old who want to learn more about this contemporary role model.
They’ll come away truly knowing that – as Greta phrases it – “You are never too small to make a difference.”
Author: Chris Van Allsburg
This book immerses you in the nighttime journey of uncaring Walter, who dreams about what could happen to Earth if humans aren’t more careful.
Written and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Medalist Chris Van Allsburg, this might just be one of the best children’s picture books about sustainability, and it’s sure to be a conversation starter with kids ages 4-7.
Author: Dr. Seuss
When it comes to children and sustainability, no reading list is complete without the classic Dr. Seuss book The Lorax.
In this rhyming tale, the Lorax speaks for the Truffala trees, teaching kids that “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Originally published in 1971, its message is as important today as ever.
While these are some of the best children’s books on environmental sustainability, they just scratch the surface of all of the amazing writing for kids on the importance of our environment and notable environmental figures.
Find a few that pique your child’s interest, and read them aloud together. Not only will it benefit their academic development, but it will help them grow up to be a caring citizen of the world.
Looking for books for yourself as well? Read our top sustainability books (for grown-ups) here!
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