100 of the Best Books for Children on Sustainability

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100 of the Best Books for Children on Sustainability

There are few things better than seeing my own children and the students in my care get grubby in the garden, enjoy the natural world around them and learn about how to care for the earth. The only thing that can top this for me is seeing them also enjoy and learn about sustainability though literature. As a librarian, it is probably no surprise to you that I like to start most ‘experiences’ for children with books, read with a loved and trusted adult. Literature is the best way I know for children to learn about new experiences, explore ideas, wonder, imagine and stretch their understanding. There is much to be said about learning by doing, but there is also much to be gained from exploring words and images in beautiful, age-appropriate literature.100 of the Best Books for Children on Sustainability, Nature and Gardening

I recently met Costa Georgiadis, host of ABC’s ‘Gardening Australia’  and the garden gnome on ‘Get Grubby TV’  and I was so inspired by all he had to say to the students he met and the teachers he spoke with. Costa is a wealth of knowledge and a passionate advocate for sustainability and he won the hearts of the librarians in attendance when he spoke of the barrage of information students experience everyday and filtering through that information to make informed decisions. He talked with incredible passion about knowledge, and emphasised that once you know something, that knowledge can’t be taken away from you. Information comes at our young people thick and fast through television, mobile technology devices and the digital games they play…and while there is much to be said for technology, there is also an incredible beauty in the power of a book, read with a loved adult, and taking the knowledge gained out into the garden or the big, wide beautiful world.garden bench

So today I want to share with you some of the books that I have been compiling over the last few years which focus on gardening with young children, issues of the environment, and sustainability in general. Sustainability is a cross curriculum priority in the Australian Curriculum and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) has connectedness as a learning outcome; kindergarten children are connected with and contribute to their world when they…become socially responsible and show respect for the environment. Literature which supports these curriculum priorities is an excellent starting point for both teachers and students, and now more than ever our home, school, kindergarten and childcare libraries should be stocked with books which support these principles.Marigold seedlings

Many of the gardening projects which I undertake in my own school kitchen garden and at home are inspired by books.  Our most successful gardening projects at home have been our worm towersour carrot pots and our fairy garden, which could just as easily be a dinosaur garden if that’s your preference.  Two years on, our fairy and dinosaur gardens are still flourishing and are easily the most played with ‘toy’ in our collection. The worms are a constant source of entertainment, the chooks in our backyard are often read to and feature in stories my children tell me and we regularly fill old teapots with succulents and grow carrots or lettuce in pots on our front deck. None of these things take huge amounts of time, effort or money…but the benefits for my children are obvious.Upcycled Pots as Succulent Gardens

At school, we use books and seed catalogues to plan our crops, find out information about how to grow our crops, we hunt down recipes to cook with our harvested corn, tomatoes and coriander and with the younger students, a book will often inspire an outside activity…after reading ‘Eco Warriors to the Rescue’, the Prep students and I searched out as many native plants as we could in our school landscaping and picked up litter along the way. Kindergarten students have greatly enjoyed reading ‘Yucky Worms’ and a variety of non-fiction books on worms and composting. The group have established their own worm farm and are planting more and more edible and native plants in the kindergarten playground. The kindergarten teacher and I work together closely, ensuring that at all times there are books available to our youngest students which encourage their interests and extend their understandings of the world around them. For example, when they spied a birds’ nest up high in a neighbour’s tree, they came straight to the library to borrow books about bird homes, and types of birds which may live in Brisbane.

Over several years now, the school library and community has had a focus on developing our collection of books which support sustainability. The collection is ever-growing and is used regularly by staff, students and the parent community who see this as a natural extension of how we live responsibly. The 100 books below are just the start of our extensive collection for our early childhood and primary school students. I also highly recommend as a teacher reference title, ‘Young Children and Their Environment’ (see here)…and not just because my child did the artwork on the front cover!young-children-and-the-environment

The Environment Award for Children’s Literature is also a fantastic place to start when developing your collection of books supporting sustainability and you can read more about the awards and how young people can be involved here.TWS updated logo_RGB_web

The Wilderness Society manages this award and they state: We believe that children’s books have a profound effect in shaping who we become as grown ups. The stories we read and enjoy as kids impact the adventures we take, the way we see and experience our landscapes, and sometimes our outlook on life. Promoting a love of nature in children is one of the fundamental elements to building a society that respects and protects our unique landscapes, and we want to celebrate books that promote a love of nature, a sense of caring for the world, and curiosity in children.

100 of the Best Books for Children on Sustainability

Click on title links to read more about each title and purchase from Australian owned and operated Booktopia. Book Covers 2 10 things I can do to help my world

All the wild wonders: poems of the earth

Are we running out of energy?

Belonging

Brilliant! : shining a light on sustainable energy

A Butterfly is Patient

Clothing: information and projects to help you live more sustainably

Conservation

Count them while you can…

The curious garden

Dear children of the Earth

Dear Greenpeace

Don’t throw that away: a lift-the-flap book about recycling and reusing

Dougal the garbage dump bear

Eating green

Eco warriors to the rescue

Energy: information and projects to help you live more sustainably

Fairy Houses Everywhere. For more on fairy gardens and houses see here.

Fairy Houses and Beyond

Fire

Flood

Food: information and projects to help you live more sustainably

A forest

Future energyBook Covers 3

Gardening projects for kids: fantastic ideas for making things, growing plants and flowers, and attracting wildlife, with 60 practical projects

The garden cook: grow, cook and eat with kids

George Saves the World by Lunchtime

Global warming: what can you do?

Going green at school

The great garden mystery

The Great Big Green Book

Green energy

 Green gardening and composting

How to Grow a Friend

I can save the earth

I saw nothing: the extinction of the Thylacine

Insect detective

Islands in my garden

It’s our garden: from seeds to harvest in a school garden

Kids’ garden adventure

Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids

The last dance

Last tree in the city

Leaf

Leaf litter: exploring the mysteries of a hidden world

Leaving a light footprint

Leisure: information and projects to help you live more sustainably

Let’s save the animals

Little seeds

Living green at home

Love your world: how to take care of the plants, the animals, and the planet

The magnificent tree

Matisse’s garden

Neptune’s nursery

A Nest is Noisy

Oil spill!

One less fish

One small island: the story of Macquarie Island

Organic Fruit Growing

Organic Vegetable Gardening

Our island

Pick up the park

The polar bears’ home: a story about global warming

Power & fuel

Python

Rain dance

Recipe for perfect planet pie

Recycled water

Recycling is fun

Reducing waste

RivertimeBook Covers

S is for save the planet: a-how-to be green alphabet

A sea of words: an ABC of the deep blue sea

Something about water

Sow and grow: a gardening book for children

The smallest carbon footprint in the land: & other eco-tales

Smart shopping

The Story of Rosy Dock

Sustainable energy

Sustainable living

Sylvia

Tap the Magic Tree

Terrarium Craft

Tiny World Terrarium

Tree: a little story about big things

That’s not a daffodil!

The tiny seed

The tomorrow book

True green kids: 100 things you can do to save the planet

Turtles’ song

Two summers

Uno’s garden

Using energy at home and school

Using energy to get around

Using water

Waste: information and projects to help you live more sustainably

Waste not want not

We can help the environment

We are the weather makers: the story of global warming

We need water

Welcome home

What does it mean to go green?

What if: a book about recycling

Where does the garbage go?

Where the forest meets the sea

Where there’s smoke

The windy farm

The wonder thing

The world that we want

The wump world

A year on our farm

You and me Murrawee

You can save the planet: a day in the life of your carbon footprint

Yates young gardener: get your hands dirty

Yucky Worms. My Full review can be seen here. 

Images

Download the full list here: 100 of the Best Books for Children on Sustainability

This post was part of my voluntary presentation for the Qld Early Childhood Sustainability Network who you can connect with on Facebook here. 

The titles of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great Article, I shared it on my google plus page. I think it is important to show children ways to help our environment so that they become good stewards of the earth and help to pass on this way of thinking to future generations because, after all, this is about them.

  2. Hi Megan

    I was inspired by the talk you gave at the QECSN day recently and immediately thought of a blog I had just posted with my favourite end pages included! I thought you might like to see them.

    https://followthatchild.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/viking-felt-flowers-for-everyone/

    It’s about the illustrations I’m doing (well changing actually) for a book I’ve written for my kindergarten children about picking flowers. Something that seemed to resonate with the other educators on the day.

    Hope you like the end pages!

    Cheers,

    Lucy

  3. Thank you so much for this list. I hope you don’t mind but I have shared it with other teachers in my district interested in Environmental Education and Sustainability. I have a copy of the list always on hand and am using it to add to our schools resources.
    Keep up the good work.

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