Book Week: 8 Classic Kids’ Books About The Environment

29.08.16 By
This article is more than 7 years old

It’s Children’s Book Week – the perfect excuse to revisit your favourite picture book, or for those of us reliving our school days, dress up as your favourite literary character!

It’s also the perfect time to celebrate how stories can help us understand the impacts of climate change and the importance of protecting our planet. These are critical lessons for everyone, no matter how young or old.

Here are a few of our favourite children’s books doing just that. Happy reading!

1. Where the Forest Meets the Sea

Written and illustrated by Jeannie Baker

“My father says there has been a forest here for over a hundred million years.”

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a father and son take us on a journey to a lush tropical rain forest in North Queensland. Every time you look at the page, you discover something new hiding in each corner. The final question of the book – (will the forest be here when we come back?) – could be asked about many natural wonders in today’s world. This story offers a perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on the natural beauty of the wilderness – and why we must protect it!

2. The Lorax

Written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.”

This timeless rhyming tale of man vs. nature is made fun and goofy in the classic Dr. Seuss style we all know and love. The greedy Once-ler starts by cutting down one Truffula Tree, but before long he has used up all of the beautiful trees, leaving nothing but smogulous smoke for the Swomee-Swans, Brown Barb-a-loots, Humming-Fish and more that depend on them for survival. The final message is one that still deeply resonates; we all have the power to learn from the past and change for the future.

3. Not your Typical Book About the Environment

Written by Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Clayton Hammer

“It is not filled with doom and gloom messages about the state of the planet. It does not blame you, your baby sister, or your uncle Irving for climate change.”

These are just a few of the ways that Elin Kelsey’s book is different. This delightful picture book serves as a positive reminder of the amazing progress we are making towards tackling climate change. It gets kids (and adults!) to start thinking differently about the environmental impacts of what they do every day – and introduces some of the incredible technologies and possibilities that are already out there. While strongly supporting the need for change – this fun book is about solutions and possibilities. Described as 100% gloom-free by reviewers… who wouldn’t want to read this??

4 The Sign of the Seahorse

Written and illustrated by Graeme Base

“Beyond the ken of mortal men, beneath the wind and waves, there lies a land of shells and sand, of chasms crags and caves”

This story about the threatened inhabitants of a fragile coral reef may be all too close to home for Australians this year – but Graeme Base’s thrilling adventure tale still merits a mention! In this story, residents of Reeftown are threatened when a sneaky real estate deal made by the Greedy Groper floods their area with toxic waste. Fortunately the sea creatures eventually come to the rescue, and in the meantime we are treated to a wonderfully illustrated rhyming adventure tale that helps us connect to the vibrancy of underwater life.

5. The Wump World

Written and illustrated by Bill Peet

“We can’t breathe the air! We can’t drink the water! And we can’t stand the noise! We’ve had enough!”

The adorable wumps are enough to get this book on our list of favourites, but Bill Peet’s story has an important environmental message too. The Pollutians invade the Wump World after using up all the resources on their previous planet, only to do the same thing yet again as soon as they arrive. When even the Pollutians become fed up with the mess they’ve made, they re-locate to a new planet once more. While the Pollutians obviously haven’t learnt their lesson – the question remains, have we?

6. Atmospheric

Written by Carole Wilkinson

“Young people will be the ones grappling with climate change. Atmospheric reminds them they are key to the solution.” – Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council CEO

Atmospheric may not be quite as cheeky as some of the other names on our list – but this non-fiction book for older kids is definitely worth a read. Atmospheric narrates our longtime mistreatment of the atmosphere, how that affects our climate, and what we should be doing about it. Brimming with handy dates, vocab, websites, and other resources, we need more books like this on our shelves! Atmospheric cuts through the cr–, communicating complex ideas in a simple, readable way.

7. Dot and the Kangaroo

Written by Ethel Pedley, illustrated by Frank P. Mahony

“To the children of Australia, in the hope of enlisting their sympathies for the many beautiful, amiable and frolicsome creatures of their fair land; whose extinction through ruthless destruction is being surely accomplished.”

Published way back in 1899, this Australian classic with a deep environmental message has been a household favourite ever since. Lost and afraid in the bush, Dot is saved by the friendly Kangaroo, and taught by the other animals about the human destruction of the bush and the animals within it. The dedication at the front of the book is an important wake up call from an author writing over a century ago!

8. My Place

Written by Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Donna Rawlins

Like its illustrations, My Place is a book with many different layers. Set in what is now inner city Sydney, My Place moves back in time from 1988-1788, showcasing the changes that have been made to the land, environment, and society. The constants in the landscapes are the big tree and the creek, and if you look closely – you can spot the ways that human influence has changed them. Adults and kids alike have lots to learn from this ab fab picture book.

What’s your favourite kids book about climate change? Let us know on Facebook.


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