Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day: The books inspiring us to make a difference

Earth Day turns 50 this year! And to celebrate this inspiring movement, we’re recalling books, old and new, for all ages that have had a profound impact on how we view the planet and ways to make a difference.  From contemporary fiction to urgent warnings; moving speeches and heartfelt letters of hope; hilarious tales of heroism for the endangered and first looks at the wonder all around us, these great reads are a perfect tribute to the place we all call home.

Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis
Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Malena Ernman, Beata Ernman

With the future of our planet at stake, we all have the tremendous responsibility to act now – and this is the remarkable story of one family’s courage and “unshakable moral clarity” to do just that. This must-read message of hope recalls how a family in crisis propelled a young girl to inspire a global movement.  Surprisingly optimistic and candid, this memoir is an intimate call to action for all inhabitants of Earth.

“A book about finding purpose as a route to recovery.” —Sunday Times

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
Greta Thunberg

“Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.”  Greta Thunberg actions and unyielding dedication have sparked a global climate revolution – inspiring millions and garnering the attention of leaders around the world.  This collection of speeches, one of our finalists for our B&N Book of the Year last year, is a rallying cry to protect the living planet – no matter how powerless we may feel, anyone can make a difference.

“Greta Thunberg is already one of our planet’s greatest advocates.” —Barack Obama

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
David Wallace-Wells

Described as this generations’ Silent Spring, this riveting read is equally a meticulously researched work of science, a travelogue of the near future for life on earth, and completely terrifying!  With lyrical prose, Wallace-Wells will argue that our climate crisis is all much worse than you think, and without mercy, zeros in on the power structures and mindless greed that have brought us here.

“Most of us know the gist, if not the details, of the climate change crisis… David Wallace-Wells has now provided the details, and with writing that is not only clear and forceful, but often imaginative and even funny, he has found a way to make the information deeply felt.” —Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 

The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here
Hope Jahren

Without scare tactics or shrill warnings, this book is a clear account of a divided world – between those who consume and waste more and those who live on much less.  A concise and witty history lesson on everything from the advances in agriculture to our expanding fossil fuel usage, highlights how we’ve got to where we are and how a change in our inherent values is this only way out. From the bestselling author of Lab Girl.

“A superb account of the deadly struggle between humanity and what may prove the only life-bearing planet within ten light years, written in a brilliantly sardonic and conversational style.” —E. O. Wilson

Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis
Introduction by Emma Thompson, illustrated by Jackie Morris

How do you begin a conversation about a global emergency?  Letters to the Earth is a good place to start.  This open invitation is a collection of letters from parents and children; politicians and poets; actors and activists; songwriters and scientists.  An explosion of grief, anger, hope, love and loss, and above all, courage to act for a planet in peril.

“By healing the Earth, we heal ourselves. By loving it, we love ourselves. And by telling its stories, we tell our own, and ensure that they will continue.” – Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat



As art is often inspired by the world around us, climate change and our evolving natural environment have influenced some terrific novels. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but these reads are definitely fun.

Jenny Offill

How do you keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls?  When a university librarian takes on a side gig as an armchair therapist for those filled with existential dread over the fate of our planet, she’ll be forced to address the limits in her own experience, while still saving everyone in the process.  This darkly funny and maddening tale of a women juggling a family, and a nation, in crisis is luminous and not to be missed.

“No one writes about the intersection of love and existential despair like Jenny Offill.”
—Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion

Carl Hiaasen

This hilarious Floridian adventure has it all – alligators, eco-warriors, pancakes, and a new kid willing to take on the establishment to save a colony of endangered owls.  Full of off-beat humor with a cast of charmingly unforgettable characters, this timely Newbery Honor book for young readers is a true underdog story full of heart.

The Lorax
Dr. Seuss

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”  Since its first publication in 1971, young readers have explored the beauty and wonder of Truffula Trees, and the importance of speaking up for those who can’t. It’s never too early to learn to love the earth, and Dr. Seuss’s playful verses teach us that just one small seed, or one small child, can make a difference.


Hello, World! Ocean Life
Jill McDonald 9780525578772

Looking to engage the curiosity of a child?  With clear and easy language, featuring bright, cheerful illustrations, Hello, World! is a perfect way to bring science, nature, and culture to growing minds.  A delightful first lesson about oceans and the creatures and plants that live there.

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