Every Day Is Earth Day! (But Especially April 22nd): Books on Saving the Environment

April 22nd is Earth Day! And to celebrate Earth Day and the beautiful and fragile planet that we call home, we have compiled a list of books for kids of all ages with stories of people helping the environment. It’s easy to get bogged down in the destruction and problems of our environment and feel hopeless that we can ever fix it, but it’s important to remind kids not only of the problems that we humans have caused, but also that there’s a lot we can do to make it better. Here are stories of people from all over the world and of all ages working to save our planet. For more books on environmental and conservation issues try searching the keywords “Environmental protection”, “Green movement”, “Conservation of natural resources”, or “Wildlife conservation” with “Juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “Juvenile literature” for non-fiction books.
Picture Books

Berger, Carin.
OK Go. 2009.
In this almost wordless picture book, car drivers stuck in traffic under smoggy skies seek “greener” alternatives to driving, including riding bicycles, walking, and playing.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. B453o]

Brown, Peter.
The Curious Garden. 2009.
Liam discovers a hidden garden and with careful tending spreads color throughout the gray city.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SE. B812cu]

Cooney, Barbara.
Miss Rumphius. 1982.
As a child, Great-aunt Alice Rumphius resolved that when she grew up she would go to faraway places, live by the sea in her old age, and do something to make the world more beautiful–and she does all those things, the last being the most difficult of all.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books SE. C7832m]

Muldrow, Diane.
We Planted a Tree. 2010.
Simple text reveals the benefits of planting a single tree, both to those who see it grow and to the world as a whole.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. M897w]

Reed, Lynn Rowe.
Roscoe and the Pelican Rescue. 2011.
The Gulf Coast oil spill turns Tony’s summer vacation into an animal rescue mission.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SE. R251r]
Intermediate and Young Adult Fiction

French, S. Terrell.
Operation Redwood. 2009.
In northern California, Julian Carter-Li and his friends old and new fight to save a grove of redwoods from an investment company that plans to cut them down.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. F8892o]

Greenwald, Lisa.
My Life in Pink & Green. 2009.
When the family’s drugstore is failing, seventh-grader Lucy uses her problem solving talents to come up with solution that might resuscitate the business, along with helping the environment.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. G8555m]

Hiaasen, Carl.
Hoot. 2002.
Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S. H52h]

Lewis, Gill.
One White Dolphin. 2012.
When a baby albino dolphin caught in old fishing netting washes ashore, Paralympics sailing hopeful Felix and English school girl Kara work with veterinarians and specialists to save and reunite the dolphin with her mother, setting off a chain of events that might just save the reef from the environmental effects of proposed dredging.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. L58641o]

Taylor, Theodore.
The Weirdo. 1991.
Seventeen-year-old Chip Clewt fights to save the black bears in the Powhaten National Wildlife Refuge.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S. T2181we]

Burch, Joann J.
Chico Mendes: Defender of the Rain Forest. 1994.
Discusses the life and work of the Brazilian rubber tapper whose efforts to secure fair treatment for other tappers and to preserve the Amazon rain forests resulted in his murder in 1988.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. M5382B]

Hines, Gary.
Midnight Forests: A Story of Gifford Pinchot and Our National Forests. 2005.
Gifford Pinchot is regarded as the father of the conservation movement. Pinchot and President Teddy Roosevelt set aside large areas and designated them public lands; these are today’s National Forests.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. P647m]

Lawlor, Laurie.
Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World. 2012.
Retells the story of Rachel Carson, a pioneering environmentalist who wrote and published “Silent Spring,” the revolutionary book pointing out the dangerous effects of chemicals on the living world.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. C3213l]

Locker, Thomas.
John Muir: America’s Naturalist. 2003.
Presents an overview of the life of the naturalist who founded the Sierra Club and was influential in establishing the national park system.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. M953l]

Napoli, Donna Jo.
Mama Miti. 2010.
This book tells the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree-and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books Q. SB. M112n]

Winter, Jeanette.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps. 2011.
This book traces the life and career of Jane Goodall as a watcher of English fauna to her adult work as scholar of animal behavior in Africa.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S. 590.92 W7344w]

George, Jean Craighead.
The Eagles Are Back. 2013.
Presents a tribute to the efforts of dedicated volunteers who helped save the American bald eagle from extinction, including the story of a young boy who helped hatch an eaglet.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S. 598.942 G293e]

Petronis, Lexi.
47 Things You Can Do for the Environment. 2012.
Sure, we all know the planet is in trouble. We hear talk all the time about air pollution from cars, oil spills into oceans, trash overflowing into waterways, and toxic chemicals leaking into our water. Sigh. But the good news is there’s a lot we can do to start cleaning up the Earth. This book explores tons of small (and big) things that teens can do to make a positive difference in the environment.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. 363.7 P4489f]

Rohmer, Harriet.
Heroes of the Environment. 2009.
This inspiring book presents the true stories of 12 people, most of them teenagers or younger adults, from across North America who have done great things for the environment. Heroes include a teenage girl who figured out how to remove an industrial pollutant from the Ohio River, a Mexican superstar wrestler who works to protect turtles and whales, and a teenage boy from Rhode Island who helped his community and his state develop effective e-waste recycling programs.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. 333.72092 R6365h]

Rosenstock, Barb.
The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks. 2012.
Offers insight into the camping trip that President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir took to the redwoods of Yosemite in 1903, during which the two men had experiences and conversations that eventually contributed to the establishment of national parks in the United States.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books Q. S. 979.447 R272c]