Just last weekend, my nephew and I went to go see Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. It was a fabulous movie, and my nephew was absolutely riveted (of course, he was in a popcorn coma, which helped). If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve likely read the book, so you’ll know that at its heart, The Lorax is a story about environmentalism. A boy named Ted lives in the walled city of Thneed-Ville, where everything is artificial, and in order to win the heart of his dream girl, Audrey, he tries to make her wish of seeing a real tree come true. Ted seeks out the Once-ler, an old businessman outside of town, and upon hearing of how the hermit gave into his greed for profits and devastated the land, Ted is inspired to undo the disaster.
I love stories like this, especially in the wake of news about melting ice caps, horrific oil spills, polluted lakes and endangered species. Tales of environmental heroism give us hope, and when the message is packaged for children, it inspires our little ones to take action, and to care of their world.
According to a recent study, over the past few decades, fewer children’s books have included any images of nature. Picture books increasingly show a world that humans have shaped, with an emphasis on houses, stores, and anything man-made. But there are still a few gems out there that illuminate the natural world in an entertaining and approachable way, and (you guessed it) you can find them at the library:
Yucky Worms by Vivian French
Who would want to be friends with a wiggly, slimy worm? You can’t even tell which end is which! But there’s more to these lowly creatures than meets the eye. Kids are invited to find out where worms live, see how they move, and understand why gardeners consider them friends with the help of this humorous and informative look at an unappreciated — and fascinating — creature.
Our World of Water: Children and Water around the World by Beatrice Hollyer
Wherever we live in this world—whether our country is rich or poor—water is vital to our survival on this planet. This book follows the daily lives of children in Peru, Mauritania, the United States, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Tajikistan, and explores what water means to them. Where does it come from? How do they use it? With the growing threat of climate change affecting all our lives, this book invites discussion on the ways different countries and cultures value this most precious of our planet’s natural resources.
Recycled Crafts Box by Laura C. Martin
Using such materials as paper, plastic, metal, and cloth usually consigned to the recycling bin or the garbage can, a master crafter presents 40 craft projects that show budding artists how to make something beautiful and save the planet at the same time.
The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Kate Smith Milway
A young Honduran girl is left in charge of the family garden when her father must leave home to find work, and is introduced to sustainable farming practices by a new teacher at her school.
Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli
Noted author Spinelli re-teams with illustrator Kennedy in this follow-up to their “Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class” that puts Miss Fox’s class on a mission to go green. Includes practical suggestions for kids and families wanting to protect the environment.
Our Earth: How Kids Are Saving the Planet by Janet Wilson
From the author of One Peace comes a new book of beautiful portraits and exciting profiles of ten young environmental activists from around the world. They include fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba from Malawi, who realized that the strong winds in his country could be put to good use and so borrowed a book from his library, taught himself how to build a working windmill, and brought electricity to his village. Full of environmental facts and advice, this book will inspire budding young eco-activists everywhere to start making a difference for their planet