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: Mighty Girl Books About Outdoor Discovery and Mighty Girl Books Celebrating Springtime & Gardening.
Mighty Girl Books on Going Green
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!
Earth isn't just the planet we live on: Earth is our friend! In this stunning picture book by Newbery Award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan, Earth is imagined as a giant waking from a winter's sleep. As she travels around the world, she cares for animals large and small (including humans) and tends to habitats and growing things. And just as she nurtures us, we need to tend and care for her too! With lyrical text and vibrant illustrations — complete with flaps and die-cuts that entice readers to explore further — this poetic book encourages us to ensure we are good friends to the Earth, just as she is with us.
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.
Zonia is Asháninka, and she lives next to the Amazon rain forest, where she goes to play every day. The forest is always full of life, lush with green plants and full of animals that Zonia examines and imitates. She knows that the forest can talk to you, if you listen. So when she stumbles across an area that's been clear-cut, she realizes that the forest is crying for help. She will answer, of course: "we all must answer." This stunning picture book by award-winning author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal is both a tribute to the beauties of nature and a reminder of the importance of caring for our planet.
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 thoughtful story about a resourceful, determined Mighty Girl 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.
Words disappear when people don't use them — so when Mimi realizes some of her favorite nature words, like apricot, willow, and dandelion, are disappearing, she appoints her granddaughter Brook as the Keeper of the Wild Words! Together, the pair go on an adventure through the woods, searching for the sight, sound, smell, and taste of the missing words so that Brook can keep these treasures safe. Readers will love the vibrant illustrations that implore them to get out and find real-life examples of these wild words, while an author's note explains that the story was inspired by nature words cut from The Oxford Junior Dictionary. This heartfelt story celebrates nature, literacy, and the love between a grandmother and granddaughter.
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 when 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 picture book based on the real kids who helped save the South Carolina sea turtles is sure to inspire young animal 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 third-grade class has a challenge: find ways to save the Earth! And Marty's sure her idea — composting leftovers from the cafeteria with the help of some hungry worms — will win the grand prize. But worms take a long time to work, and when they manage to escape, the whole class is mad with Marty. She'll have to recapture the worms, maintain her friendships, and learn a little patience if she wants to reach her goal. Any kid who's found that "simple" experiments are harder than they seem will appreciate Marty's frustration, as well as her pride when her lowly little worms work just as they're supposed to.
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 contemplative book 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.
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!
12-year-old Madi's parents have told her if she brings home one more stray or injured animal, she'll lose an opportunity to meet one of her heroes, Jane Goodall! But then she and her friends Aaron and Jack find two dead beavers by the side of the lake — and when Madi investigates their lodge, she finds two orphaned kits. The three kids hide the beavers inside their clubhouse, but in addition to keeping them safe, they have to figure out who killed the two beaver parents, and why. But as they dig into the mystery, they might discover a local environmental crisis that will take more than the three of them to solve! Perfect for fans of Pax and A Boy Called Bat, this book about a determined animal-loving girl will make kids wonder what they can do about protecting wildlife in their own communities.
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.
12-year-old Stacy was raised by wolves in the northern snow forest, or taiga, and together, she and her pack patrol the forest to keep other animals safe. But as time goes on, the forest starts to change, bringing newcomers to the area and prompting everything from rival wolf packs to forest fires caused by careless campers. Can Stacy and her wolf friends adapt and thrive, despite these new dangers? The first in a series from YouTube creator StacyPlays, based on her online Minecraft series Dogcraft, this fantasy adventure includes important messages about environmental stewardship and concludes with an interview with a real-life wolf researcher!
The Last BearNew!
The Last BearNew!
11-year-old April's father has been neglectful and overwhelmed by grief since her mother died seven years ago. When he accepts a six month position at Bear Island in the Arctic, April hopes the solitude will bring them closer together, but instead he seems more distant than ever. Her father tells her that there are no polar bears left on Bear Island, so April is shocked when she finds one — hungry, injured, and lonely. Her gift for befriending animals allows the two to trust one another, and soon they're planning adventures together, including a mission to get Bear home. But when April realizes how the melting ice caps have affected the polar bears, she becomes determined to do all she can to save Bear — and the Arctic. An appealing heroine and a powerful message about environmental stewardship make this a touching story perfect for fans of Pax and A Wolf Called Wander.
13-year-old Coco Hidden adores her mother's bean-to-bar chocolate shop, El Corazón — but Donut Delite has opened up the street, taking so much business that they may have to close. She's been dreaming of a ceiba tree in Ecuador, promising treasure that could save the shop. When a competition to win a weeklong trip to Ecuador crops up, she ends up tying with her former best friend, Leo. But on their trip to a remote Huaorani village, they learn about the logging and oil industries threatening to destroy the trees, and team up to find out how they can stop it. This magical realism novel explores many important issues, including Indigenous rights and environmental activism.
Stella and Josie are half-sisters who spend most of their years apart but delight in their summer beach vacation together with their dad. But this year starts off a bit rough: Stella is about to enter high school and thinks Josie is "too childish," and their favorite Water Ice shop is closed! But when the girls discover that the business that replaced the shop has a dark secret that endangers marine life, the boardwalk, and everyone who enjoys the beach, they put aside their differences to prove it. Before long, they're caught up in a mystery — and some hijinks — involving a pop singer, dead jellyfish, and a whole lot of trouble. Told in alternating voices, this light and fun environmental mystery is also a celebration of sisterhood.
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.
Middle-schooler Louisa wants to be a musician, unlike the rest of her family, who are biologists. When she gets sent to spend the summer with her Australian relatives in the Tasmanian rainforest, she's shocked to learn that the family is secretly protecting the last Tasmanian tiger, a species the world believes was hunted to extinction. Now the sanctuary is threatened by mining, and the family is struggling to lure the tiger to safety. As the summer goes on, Louisa discovers she feels at home in the forest — and she begins to suspect that her violin may be the key to teaching the tiger to trust her. This stunning story of conservation, hope, and individuality will make readers dream of what may lie hidden in the untouched wilderness.
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.
Kirra and her father are Storytellers, who travel from village to village telling fearsome stories that keep people away from her secret community inside a dormant volcano — but when she explores alone one day, she accidentally leads the rumored "Takers" back to their home, and they destroy everything she loves. She finds a home with a boy named Luwan and his family in the treetops, and hopes to forget everything that came before. But when Luwan is captured by a group of strangers, Kirra realizes the Takers have returned. Now, she will have to face her fears and tell her story to save the Tree Folk. This novel about loss, community, and the importance of respecting nature is compelling and powerful.
Billie Wind is growing up in a Seminole tribe in Florida, and she’s exasperated with the elders’ insistence on clinging to traditional stories of talking animals and nature spirits instead of focusing on real issues, like pollution and war. Sarcastically, she suggest that perhaps she should go out into the Everglades until she believes in these myths; to her surprise, the elders think her idea is just right. Alone in the wild, Billie gets a new appreciation for the importance of being in tune with nature and how that connection can drive conservation efforts. This exciting story in which environmentalism and adventure walk hand in hand is sure to appeal to many young readers.
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.