A Mighty Girl's favorite books for young readers about taking action for the environment during April's Earth Month and all year round!
April's Earth Month provides a great opportunity to talk to your Mighty Girl about ways she can help protect the environment all year long! Small lifestyle changes in each household add up to big changes globally, and it’s inspiring for kids to know that they can make an impact. In this blog post, we've showcased a variety of environmentally-themed books for children that show young readers how everyone can make a difference in making the world a little greener.
For more Mighty Girl books focused on inspiring a love of nature and the outdoors, check out our blog posts: Explore Your World: 25 Mighty Girl Books About Outdoor Discovery and 25 Mighty Girl Books Celebrating Springtime & Gardening.
Mighty Girl Books on Going Green
You can introduce environmental awareness to even the littlest children with this fun board book! With simple text that's perfectly suited to babies and toddlers, it goes through different ways that the youngest kids can make decisions that help the Earth. Kids will love the bright illustrations, while parents will like the list of eco-friendly activities at the end of the book. Best of all, since this book is made of 98% post-consumer recycled materials and printed with eco-friendly inks, you'll know you're buying green too.
This book draws direct connections between suggestions for environmentally-friendly life and the way those actions protect the Earth — using both sides of the paper, for example, means fewer trees cut for paper, which also protects the wildlife that lives within those trees. Parr’s signature art style is colorful and fun — and printed on recycled paper with soy inks. The book also includes a poster full of reminders of how kids can take care of the Earth every day.
The little girl in this book has big plans for her community! By recruiting her neighbors — starting with friends her age, and eventually everyone, old and young — to help her clean up, plant, and enjoy a new One Love Park, she teaches everyone a valuable lesson about the power of working together and the importance of being good stewards for green spaces, whether in the midst of the forest or in the heart of the city! Cedilla Marley adapts one of her father Bob Marley's most beloved songs for this story. Fans of the book will also love this One Love plush doll.
The little yellow pear tomatoes in this little girl's garden aren't just a delicious snack: they're also a symbol of how all of us — and all of the world — are connected. In rhyming verse, she contemplates how everyone brings something to the tomatoes, including herself: "because if I didn't love eating them / so much, my daddy wouldn't plant them!" Inspired by Zen teachings, this book also shows kids the importance of "not-a-tomato" things like earthworms, bees, water, and sunshine.
When a large bee flies into a little girl's open apartment window, it's the start of an unexpected friendship. Although her initial inclination is to grab the flyswatter, the girl recognizes the bee as a sympathetic figure and instead helps him by feeding him sugar water. Soon, the bee has grown big enough for the girl to take a remarkable ride, far across the countryside to harvest seeds that the pair can sprinkle across her urban landscape. Kids who have heard about the declining bee population will be intrigued by this wordless picture book, both for its fantasy-tinged pictorial story about the relationship between bees and growing things and for its page of facts about bees and how to plant a pollinator-friendly garden.
For a kid who doesn’t know how their leftover food can enrich the soil, compost is magic! In this rhyming story, every letter of the alphabet gets one possible ingredient for a batch of Earth-renewing compost. Along with the rhyme come beautiful collage and found-object illustrations showing everything that gets chucked into the pot to make the thick, healthy compost. A note at the back also lets young composters know what doesn’t belong in the compost bin. It’s a great way to introduce your kids to the amazing process that turns organic waste into fertile earth.
When Lola is getting rid of some of her old toys, Charlie convinces her to recycle them instead. And when Lola learns there's a recycling competition going on — recycle one hundred metal, paper, and plastic items and she'll get her own live tree to plant — she is determined to reach her goal! By recruiting her classmates, Lola quickly discovers that they can all be very good recyclers indeed. The book, which is printed on Forest Stewardship Council-approved paper, includes recycling tips and your very own version of Lola's poster, so kids can track their own recycling efforts.
The vacant lot where a condemned building was demolished looks strange to Marcy; “like a big smile with one tooth missing.” Then Marcy has a flash of inspiration: instead of growing flowers in coffee cans, she and Miss Rosa will plant a garden in the vacant lot this year. There are plenty of doubters, but once Marcy and Miss Rosa start their garden, it’s amazing how it brightens the neighborhood and brings all their neighbors together. This lovely story of greening city life and the power of community action is sure to inspire children to think about how to brighten up their own community!
When Miss Fox arrives at school on a bicycle, her students all figure that her car broke down. "No," she says, "I'm going green!" After a quick explanation about what it means to go green, her whole class starts looking for ways they can conserve resources and protect the environment, doing everything from turning out lights to bringing reusable bags shopping. And soon Miss Fox's class is leading the school in a change of habits — one that includes a lot more bicycles on the school's front lawn! This charming book shows how one person's actions can help bring change to a whole community.
Caroline encounters a typical suburban situation: there doesn’t seem to be any real nature to be seen! Instead of the meadow her street’s name promises, there’s nothing but plain grass. But when a single wildflower pops up in her lawn, a little determination — and some cooperation from her family — will allow Caroline to transform their yard into a thriving ecosystem. And soon the neighbors are following suit. This quiet look at the difference between a sterile cultivated lawn and the lively environment on Meadowview Street is a great way to talk about bringing nature home.
When Mae and her family move from the countryside, she mourns the loss of all the growing things that surrounded her old home: "There was no room among the crowded buildings for apple trees and daffodils," she thinks. But when she and her mother go exploring, she discovers a florist shop called Florette with a window full of lush, green, beautiful plants. Full of inspiration, Mae starts her own little garden, and as it grows, it draws in new friends and helps Mae find her place in her new city. Packed with glorious illustrations of greenery, this delightful picture book celebrates the power of gardens to make a place feel like home.
As a child, Alice Rumphius wanted to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and make the world a more beautiful place — and while she manages the first two, her third dream seems ever elusive! It's not until she remembers her love of wildflowers that she finds her purpose: planting lupines along the coast of Maine. This modern classic about a woman who helps spread the beauty of nature is sure to have your children looking for their own local wildflowers to tend.
During spring break, Kenya's teacher wants each student to write about what they did on their vacation... but Kenya doesn't think she's done anything worth writing about. The she takes a trip to a museum that has a recycling exhibit, and on a walk through the neighborhood with her father, she's inspired! First she uses broken toys and other items to make art with her family, and then she gets ready to show her whole class how trash can become a thing of beauty. This fun story is sure to get kids' creative juices flowing about making old things new again.
During the summer, Miss Maple diligently searches the world around her, looking for seeds who haven't found a place to sprout. Together, they explore places where the seeds might grow, and she cares for them through the fall and the long, cold winter, reminding them, "Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small." But when the winter is over, she is ready to let them go...because in rich earth and warm sun, they won't be small for long! This beautiful celebration of caretaking and the miracle of nature's growth is exquisitely illustrated; kids will particularly linger over a spread of drawings of a wide variety of seeds, from tiny raspberry pips to acorns.
Kate is playing hopscotch when she hears a cry of frustration from the bare hilltop near her town. The wind there is powerful, and the man who lives there can't escape it. Kate knows the solution: planting trees! Over years — enough years that Kate becomes a teenager and the man's beard goes grey — Kate plants trees over the steep hill, tends them, and helps them grow. Finally, the trees are tall enough that Kate can truly claim to have tamed the wind. This simple story shares an important message, both about the role that trees play in making our spaces healthier and more comfortable, and about the need for long-term planning and action to keep our world green.
Who says a farm has to be a giant property, with row upon row of plants and rolling pastures full of animals? In fact, a farm can be anywhere that a caring person plants a seed and tends the resulting crop. In this rhyming story author Phyllis Root provides factual information about how plants grow alongside plenty of inspiration for starting your own farm — in anything from a window box to an old boot! G. Brian Karas' illustrations depict a diverse and vibrant group of young people working together to make their own "anywhere farms" a reality. It's a delightful celebration of the greening of urban spaces and the power of communities working together.
Just because kids hear about "being green" doesn't mean they know what that means! This colorful book shows kids the many things that we can do to live environmentally conscious lives. From walking to the park instead of driving to drawing on both sides of the paper, little changes can make a big difference! As the book talks about things that kids can do, it also introduces more complex ideas — like the distance food has to travel to get to your plate — that show how to think about the environmental impact of your decisions. It's a great way to get kids thinking about the ways they can make living green a part of their day to day lives.
Ixchel desperately wants to learn to weave like other Mayan women, but her mother has no time to teach her; she can't interrupt her own weaving, which she hopes will make enough money at market for Ixchel's school fees and books. Ixchel tries to teach herself, but no one will want to buy something woven from grass or wool scraps! Then she sees the colorful discarded bags that litter her village and has a great idea: she washes them, cuts them into strips, and weaves them into beautiful rainbow fabric...just like the weavings she's admired for years. This bilingual English / Spanish story is a great title for talking about "upcycling" garbage, and also for discussing other issues like educational access.
Viv has just moved to a new town by the sea, and she's still struggling to feel at home — "I always need help finding my way, especially in a new place," she thinks. On her first day at school, her teacher tells her that they're looking for a community action project to do, and urges Viv and her classmates to think of ideas. It's not until Viv learns about the sea turtle hatcheries nearby — and the way the hatchlings can get lost when they mistake artificial lights for the moon that normally guides their way — that the class finds the perfect project. This newly released picture book based on the real kids who helped save the South Carolina sea turtles is sure to inspire young nature lovers!
When a young thief tries to snatch an old woman's bag, she's surprised when the woman says she can have it... if she makes a promise. The purse turns out to be full of acorns, and the thief realizes she has promised to plant them all. But as she makes the grey ruins of the city start to sprout green, everyone seems to blossom, and the thief realizes that she can make a difference in the world — for good. Inspired by the 1953 story, The Man Who Planted Trees, this thoughtful picture book is a testament to the power of the nature to heal our cities and ourselves.
Marty McGuire’s grade three class is having a competition for the best Earth-saving project, and Marty thinks she knows the key: worms! She and Annie will turn leftover bits of lunches from the school cafeteria into compost with the help of worms borrowed from Grandma’s garden. But worms eat so slowly, and when a few of them escape, not everyone appreciates their charms as much as Marty does. Will Marty ever get her project to work out? Messner’s funny, engaging character is sure to be a hit with Mighty Girls, and she might just make your kids develop a new appreciation for worms in the garden.
In the winter of 1984-1985, thousands of beluga whales were trapped by ice in a Siberian strait until the locals, with the help of the icebreaking ship Moskva, managed to free them. Schuch dramatizes this true story through the eyes of Glashka, a girl from the Chukchi Peninsula who hears the voices of the whales in her dreams. When the whales are frightened by the noise and chaos of the ship breaking through the ice, Glashka is the one who helps find the solution: a broadcast of human music to help reassure the whales, and guide them to their rescue. This lovely, thoughtful story captures the importance of the natural world, and the magic of even a hint of communications between animals and humans.
Mountain Girl's parents own a small house and love their work outdoors, but she's old enough now to realize that their family is far from rich. Even their table is made of lumber scraps! So one day she asks her parents to consider getting better jobs — the kind of jobs that mean you'll never want for new things. Her parents, though, respond thoughtfully, asking her what price tag she thinks could be put on the riches around them: the sound of coyotes howling in the hills, the brightly colored flowers of a cactus bloom, or the sliver of moon in the sky. This beautiful, contemplative story is an excellent way to share a reverence for nature and to get kids questioning whether material things really have the value we assign to them.
American Girl's 2016 Girl of the Year, Lea, is on an adventure in the Amazon — and she has a lot to learn. Life in the rainforest is challenging, especially when you don't know much about the animals and plants around you, and Lea finds herself facing everything from anacondas to territorial chickens! Then she and her brother find an injured baby sloth on a hike, and Lea becomes determine to nurse it back to health. But is taking it out of the forest the right thing to do? And if she does, can the sloth ever return to the wild life it was meant to have? This story will get Mighty Girls thinking about how people can really help wild animals in need.
This fun, accessible book provides a thorough introduction to environmental issues, from different habitats to loss of biodiversity, noise and light pollution to understanding how the world’s systems interact. As Amsel discusses these ideas, she includes a variety of fun activities to support the lessons, from word searches to craft ideas to simple experiments. The last two chapters provide ideas for living green and taking action to protect the environment, both on your own and in a group. It’s a great way to get your kids learning about a wide array of environmental issues!
Elizabeth was planning a fun summer of time on her family farm, working and playing with her best friend, Rachel. But when Harmony Farms Corporation builds a new factory farm nearby, the local community is thrown into crisis: farmers are selling their land and Elizabeth is heartbroken when Rachel’s family moves. Then Elizabeth meets Gaia, the living incarnation of the Earth, who gives her unexpected powers. But can Elizabeth handle the responsibilities of these new gifts? And can any girl fight a major corporation — even with Gaia on her side? The first of a series of “fiction with a mission”, this engaging story perfectly combines magic and fantasy with real-world issues.
11-year-old Fern loves nature, but has little time to enjoy it: her stepfather Toivo struggles to earn enough money for the family, so she's responsible for watching her two brothers and keeping the house. The old growth forest behind their home is Fern's refuge, so she's devastated when she hears that a fracking company wants to put a wastewater pond there. But for her poor community, it means chance to pull themselves out of poverty. So with her dead mother's recipe book, Fern sets out to show just what could be lost along with the forest. A touching and nuanced look at complex issues like environmentalism, poverty, mental illness, and more, this book will give middle grade readers plenty to think about.
If your kids would be inspired by reading about real-life people who have dedicated themselves to conservation and environmentalism, check out this book! Harriet Rohmer profiles a dozen women and men — many of them young — who have taken a stand to protect the environment in their local area. These activists, inventors, and pioneers have come up with innovative ways to tackle long-standing problems. No doubt, their stories will inspire young readers to think about what they could do in their own communities.
Lily adores her autistic half-brother, Adam, but she's also frustrated by how his needs have taken over her life: her stepfather, Don, refuses to see how much help Adam needs, forcing Lily to be more caretaker than sister. When Adam bonds with a captive dolphin, Nori, Don thinks it's the solution to the family's problems — but a new friend has Lily questioning if it's fair to keep a dolphin away from the ocean to benefit her brother. What she really wants is to help Nori find her freedom while also ensuring that both she and Adam have the opportunity to find happiness. This complex novel explores questions about our relationship to the animal world.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For films starring girls and women as environmental heroes, check out our first blog in this series, Mighty Girls Save The World: Environmental Films Starring Girls and Women.
- For more environmentally-themed books, visit our list of the Top Children's Books On The Environment or our Environment section.