Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg has taken the world by storm with her passion for environmental activism and tireless efforts to effect change on a global level. In 2018, the then-15-year-old decided she could no longer sit around and wait for politicians and world leaders to take action, so she made a sign and went on strike in front of Stockholm’s parliament building.
What started as one girl holding a sign in protest grew into a worldwide movement with millions participating in School Strike 4 Climate. Greta’s efforts have not only inspired environmentalists young and old but also a new book for young readers—Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet, an unofficial biography about her and her willingness to fight for a better future.
We’ve rounded up seven other books for kids of all ages about environmental activism and climate change to help get young readers and their grown-ups talking about what we can all do to help stop this crisis in its tracks. Check out our picks.
The Earth Book, by Todd Parr
Todd Parr’s signature playful and sensitive style offers an age-appropriate take on the importance of protecting our planet and conserving its resources. Colorful drawings with heavy black outlines jump off the pages as children learn ways they can make a difference when it comes to saving the earth. “I take care of the earth because I know I can do little things every day to make a BIG difference…” Kids and caregivers alike will finish the book with some simple ideas like bringing their own bags to the grocer, turning off the water when brushing their teeth, using both sides of the paper when making art, and more. Ages 3–5.
The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss
Looking for a Dr. Seuss tome to inspire your little nature lovers? The Lorax has been beloved by kids and parents since its release in 1961 for its wonderful message about environmental stewardship that remains relevant to this day—“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Budding environmental activists will be raring to go after a rousing reading of the legend of the Lorax aloud. Its classic Seussian language and pictures keep young readers engaged while also enlightening and educating. Ages 6–9.
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge, by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
This wonderfully wacky bestselling science series gets down to real facts about climate change, introducing them in an approachable way with the help of Ms. Frizzle and her magic school bus. But it doesn’t just paint a picture of gloom and doom about our warming planet—it engages and empowers kids, so they understand exactly how they can get involved to help solve this global crisis. With accompanying helpful and entertaining illustrations to break down the science, the text teaches young readers about greenhouse gases, melting ice, rising temperatures, carbon dioxide emissions, and more in the way that only the Friz and her amazing fashion sense can. Ages 7–10.
What Is Climate Change?, by Gail Herman, Who HQ, and John Hinderliter
From the incredible What Was? series for kids comes What Is Climate Change?, which offers a well-rounded look at climate change and its effects on the planet. Author Gail Herman presents both sides of the debate—the perspective agreed upon by many scientists that humans have a big role in the crisis along with the counterargument. The 112-page volume deftly breaks down what climate change is, what’s being affected by it, what the effects could look like in the future, as well as the scientific, social, and political angles of the issue—all in a way that’s easy for young readers to understand. Ages 8–12.
The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, by EarthWorks Group and Sophie Javna
Published in advance of the celebration of Earth Day in 1990, the original 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth was a cultural phenomenon, selling more than 5 million copies and inspiring an entire generation of environmental warriors. Now the book is back in print and updated for the 21st century with both original content and brand-new easy-to-do and kid-friendly projects to make a difference in our world. The new edition contains tons of tips and facts about the state of the planet sure to inform and engage young readers excited to start saving the earth. Ages 9–15.
Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen
“This is a work of fiction,” reads the copyright page in Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot. “The owls, however, are quite real.” So are Roy Eberhardt’s struggles as the new kid at school—yet again. The middle schooler recently moved from Montana to south Florida, and thanks to his new school’s biggest bully mashing his face up against the bus window one day, Roy notices a barefoot boy running down the sidewalk. Roy soon discovers that the boy is the mystery vandal attempting to derail construction of a pancake restaurant set to be built over the burrows of some endangered owls. Can Roy help save the owls, fend off the bullies, and adapt to life at a new school? Also, be sure to read Hiaasen’s Flush and Scat for similar environmental adventures. Ages 10–14.
It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!, by Chelsea Clinton
For most burgeoning philanthropists in the ’90s, 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth was the most well-read book on their shelves (along with The Baby-Sitters Club #57: Dawn Saves the Planet). And former First Kid Chelsea Clinton was no exception. Now the vice chair of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, she’s bringing young readers her own vision of making the world a better place with the book It’s Your World. Filled with stories about real kids who have made an impact, this book is sure to inspire a new generation to do their part. Ages 10–14.
What books would you recommend for budding environmentalists?