Earth Day is April 22, but learning about our impact on the environment and ways we can protect our planet is a lifelong commitment. Looking for books to read with your students to spark conversations about climate change? Below are some suggestions of fiction titles paired with nonfiction books that supplement each theme.
Check out the Earth and Environment category on our website for a full list of all our books on this topic, including the My Great Bear Rainforest series, Orca Footprints series and more!
My Wounded Island by Jacques Pasquet, illustrated by Marion Arbona
There’s an invisible creature in the waves around Sarichef. It is altering the lives of the Iñupiat people who call the island home. A young girl and her family are forced to move to the center of the island for refuge from the rising sea level. Soon the entire village will have to relocate to the mainland. Heartbroken, the young girl and her grandfather worry: what else will be lost when they are forced to abandon their homes and their community?
Addressing the topic of climate refugees, My Wounded Island is based on the challenges faced by the Iñupiat people who live on the small islands north of the Bering Strait near the Arctic Circle.
The Night the Forest Came to Town by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Annie Wilkinson
From dusk to dawn a forest creeps into a town where the grown-ups are too distracted to notice. But the children do. They see greenery take root in the lifeless cracks of dull sidewalks. They see an eagle build her nest atop a forgotten fountain and saplings start to sprout in dark corners. A gray-drab city defined by concrete and steel, vibrations and notifications, transforms into a living garden where apartment buildings overflow with window boxes full of flowers, birds sing songs through day and night and children laugh and tend to their gardens. Watch as nature reclaims this town.
Nonfiction pairing: Going Wild: Helping Nature Thrive in Cities by Michelle Mulder. Just like in The Night the Forest Came to Town, what if the new key to making our lives safer (and even healthier) is to allow the wilderness back into our cities? Going Wild offers suggestions for ways children can participate in rewilding.
What Matters by Alison Hughes, illustrated by Holly Hatam
What happens when one small boy picks up one small piece of litter? He doesn’t know it, but his tiny act has big consequences. From the miniscule to the universal, What Matters sensitively explores nature’s connections and traces the ripple effects of one child’s good deed to show how we can all make a big difference.
Nonfiction pairing: Trash Talk: Moving Toward a Zero-Waste World by Michelle Mulder. This book pairs well with What Matters because it also explores the impact of our waste. Our landfills are overflowing, but with some creative thinking, stuff we once threw away can become a collection of valuable resources just waiting to be harvested.
The Vegetable Museum by Michelle Mulder
Thirteen-year-old Chloë left her whole life back in Montreal, including her mom and her best friend. Now she’s stuck in Victoria with her dad and her estranged grandfather, Uli, who recently had a stroke. When Chloë agrees to help Uli look after his garden, she’s determined to find out why he and her dad didn’t speak to each other for years.
For decades Uli has collected seeds from people in the community, distinct varieties that have been handed down through generations. The result is a garden full of unusual and endangered produce, from pink broccoli to blue kale to purple potatoes.
But Chloë learns that the garden will soon be destroyed to make way for a new apartment complex. And the seed collection is missing! Chloë must somehow find a way to save her grandfather’s legacy.
Nonfiction pairing: Home Sweet Neighborhood: Transforming Cities One Block at a Time, also by Michelle Mulder. Home Sweet Neighborhood explores how placemaking—personalizing public and semi-private spaces like front yards—is a growing trend in cities and suburbs around the world, drawing people out of their homes and into conversation with one another.
The Summer We Saved the Bees by Robin Stevenson
Wolf’s mother is obsessed with saving the world’s honeybees, so it’s not too surprising when she announces that she’s taking her Save the Bees show on the road—with the whole family. Wolf thinks it’s a terrible plan, and not just because he’ll have to wear a bee costume—in public. He likes his alternative school and hates the idea of missing weeks of classes. His teenage stepsister doesn’t want to leave her boyfriend, and one of his little half sisters has stopped talking altogether, but Wolf’s mom doesn’t seem to notice. She’s convinced that the world is doomed unless ordinary people take extraordinary action. It isn’t until the kids take some drastic action of their own that she is forced to listen when Wolf tells her that dragging the family around the province in a beat-up Ford panel van may not be the best idea she ever had.
Nonfiction pairing: What’s the Buzz?: Keeping Bees in Flight by Merrie-Ellen Wilcox. All over the world, bee colonies are dwindling, but everyone can do something to help save the bees, from buying local honey to growing a bee-friendly garden. What’s the Buzz? celebrates the magic of bees—from swarming to dancing to making honey—and encourages readers to do their part to keep the hives alive.