These picture books about sustainability help you start discussions about what can be done to improve the environment and the consequences of our actions. By reading about sustainability, your students can develop strategies for taking positive environmental actions.
What is Sustainability? Why is it Important?
Sustainability means taking care of the Earth and ensuring we can use its resources long-term through positive environmental actions.
Children need to learn how to think sustainably and be aware of the environmental issues that affect our planet. They should understand why it is essential to reduce waste, conserve energy, and protect natural habitats.
By learning about sustainability, children can develop strategies for making better decisions and taking positive environmental actions that will benefit their communities and the environment.
Why Read Picture Books about Sustainability?
These picture books about sustainability offer meaningful ways to protect the environment and see effective environmental actions. You can discuss the consequences of our actions and what we can do to protect the environment.
Teaching about sustainability with picture books promotes an appreciation for nature and encourages your students to become environmentally conscious citizens. Additionally, learning about sustainability can help children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Teaching children about sustainability is essential for helping them build the skills and knowledge necessary for creating a better future for all.
The children's books about sustainability illustrate:
- Saving the environment is important for future generations.
- Acting now to prevent large-scale environmental catastrophes.
- There are many ways to help conserve and sustain the environment.
- Everyone can get involved in helping to preserve our planet.
- The importance of renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power.
- The effects of reducing our consumption of non-renewable resources like coal or oil.
- By reusing and recycling materials, we conserve natural resources and decrease pollution.
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Picture Books about Sustainability
111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh
Sundar Paliwal valued gender equality, but his village only celebrated the birth of boys. He resigned from his job and became the leader of Piplantri. Sundar persuaded the villagers to celebrate the birth of girls by planting 111 trees. Over time, these trees provided food, water and the opportunity for women to earn their own living.
Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood
In Paraguay, Ada Río grows up in poverty and can't afford to follow her dream of playing the violin. The arrival of a new music teacher who made instruments out of rubbish changed Ada's life forever. Based on the true story of the Recycled Orchestra.
Beatrix Potter's Countryside by Linda Elovitz Marshall
Beatrix Potter is most famous for being the author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books. She used the money from the sales of her books to buy 4,000 acres of land in the Lake District. She donated the land to the National Trust, and this part of the countryside is still undeveloped because of her actions and beliefs.
A Forest by Marc Martin
A forest peacefully grows for thousands of years until people chop down its trees. In its place grows a city and its factories. The consequences of deforestation are devastating when a flood destroys the town. A lone tree is left standing and gradually becomes part of a new forest.
The Girl Who Planted Trees by Caryl Hart
A young girl is inspired by her grandfather to plant a new forest in her village. Despite the difficulties, she preserves and the saplings peak through the earth. Just as her hard work pays off, the trees are destroyed by a storm. This tragedy brings out the villagers to help the girl recreate the forest.
Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood by Tony Hillery
Tony Hillery turned an abandoned space in Harlem into an inner-city garden with the community's help. Local children learn about sustainable eating, healthy living and collaboration. One man's inspiring vision now provides thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to Harlem families.
Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family and the Planet by Elizabeth Suneby
During the monsoon season in Bangladesh, Iqbal's family must cook indoors. The smoke from the open fire affects the family's health. Iqbal learns about solar energy cooking and develops a solution to his family's health problems.
The Last Rainbow Bird by Nora Brech
Jo and Alex are looking for a mate for the soon-to-be-extinct Rainbow Bird. They travel through a forest surrounded by the most extraordinary birds. Still, They cannot find the Rainbow Bird until the bird appears when they are about to give up.
Read to promote discussions on hope, persistence, endangered animals, and the work of scientists in different areas of conversation.
The Last Seaweed Pie by Wenda Shurety
The Sea-ple live in the ocean, and the Tree-ple live in the jungle. The Sea-ple are living with the consequences of the Tree-ple throwing their rubbish and waste into the sea. A young Tree-ple comes up with an idea, and the two communities work together to solve the problem.
Last: The Story of a White Rhino by Nicola Davies
Sudan, a white rhino, lives in a grey city zoo in the Czech Republic. It remembers his life before its captivity, including his mother and the smell of the earth and rain. Sudan believes he is the last white rhino. When he is rescued and released back into the wild, Sudan discovers there are more like him, and he is no longer alone.
Read to start discussions on conservation, freedom, extinction and hope.
The Last Straw by Zoe Matthiessen
Sippy is a plastic straw that is discarded and blown into the sea. It learns about the negative consequences of single-use plastic on different animals.
The Last Tiger: A Story of Hope by Becky Davies
This is the first of two books about sustainability by Becky Davies.
Aasha's once-thriving home is changing. Trees in the rainforest are being cut down, and other tigers are disappearing. She wonders if she is the last tiger. She decides to leave her home, and together with Teman, an orangutan, they find a new home and hope.
Little Turtle and the Sea by Becky Davies
This is the second of two books about sustainability by Becky Davies. A young turtle grows up swimming in the ocean repeatedly to reach the coral reefs. As the turtle ages, it notices the oceans' environment change as it becomes full of pollution.
The Old Boat by Jarrett Pumphrey
A boy and his grandmother go fishing in their old boat. They see the wonders of the oceans but also the pollution. As the boy grows, he continues to fish from the old boat and decides to take action on the pollution, inspiring others to do the same.
Omar, The Bees and Me by Helen Mortimer
New student Omar brings his mother's honey cake to school. He tells the class how his grandfather used to keep bees. Omar's knowledge sparks a class project about bees before spreading into the local community.
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole
We follow the journey of a durable paper bag from a tree growing in a forest to a supermarket checkout and carrying a young boy’s lunch. Three generations of the boys’ family use the bag, and when the grandfather dies, it holds a sapling planted in his memory.
Our House is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet by Jeanette Winter
Jeanette Winter uses this quote from Greta Thunberg as inspiration for this book. “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic…I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” Greta’s Skolstrejk för klimatet in Sweden started a global moving, proving that “You are never too small to make a difference.”
This biography promotes discussions of activism, climate change, politics and the importance of taking action, no matter your age.
Rainbow Weaver by Linda Elovitz Marshall
Ixchel wants to continue the weaving tradition of her Mayan community. She walks around her village to find items to weave with but only finds colourful plastic bags.
As the bags pile up, Ixchel cuts them into strips and starts weaving them, producing a rainbow fabric.
Rocket Says Clean Up! by Nathan Bryon
Rocket visits her grandparents in Jamaica. While beachcombing, Rocket passes piles of rubbish and finds a baby turtle tangled in a net. She decides something must be done. She brings the community together to clean up the beach and teach them about plastic pollution.
The Secret Sky Garden by Linda Sarah
Funni creates a beautiful garden in a neglected carport where she flies her kite and plays her recorder. Zoo, a young boy, spots the garden from an aeroplane and, once landed, sets off to find this oasis of colour in the city.
The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann
A child takes in the sea's wonders on a whale's back. On their journey, the whale cannot avoid eating the plastic pollution littered throughout the ocean. Seeing the consequences of the human population's careless attitude to waste, the child returns home and promises to spread the ‘whale's tale' of the ‘plastic soup sea'.
There's a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom by James Sellick
A young girl finds an orangutan in her bedroom. It is very unimpressed with her shampoo and chocolate. The girl didn't understand until the orangutan explained that humans burn rainforests to produce palm oil, an ingredient in many everyday products. This prompts the girl to take action. Published in collaboration with Greenpeace.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed A City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins
This biography reflects on following your dreams and staying strong in adversity.
Walk of the Whales by Nick Bland
Different species of whales leave the ocean to walk on the land. The people are perplexed at the sight of whales doing human things. Soon, shops go out of business, farms flood, and the human inhabitants start to heckle the mammals with anti-whale words. It takes a little girl to discover the whales have left their home because of ocean pollution caused by humans.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
An Indigenous girl tells the reader about her village's attempts to protect the water. One day a black serpent (oil pipes) will come to poison the water, and her community's responsibility is to safeguard the water from harm and corruption.
When the Storks Came Home by Isabella Tree
This is the first of two books about sustainability by Isabella Tree. Beanie is fascinated with storks and learns her village was once famous for nesting stocks. She learns they have disappeared from Britain and takes action to help them return. Along with her community, Beanie does everything she can to bring wild storks back to nest on the house in the village.
When We Went Wild by Isabella Tree
This is the second of two books about sustainability by Isabella Tree. Nancy and Jake are farmers who use large machines and chemicals on their deteriorating land. On reflection, they make a big change and decide to go wild! They ban the chemical, stop using equipment and let the animals graze freely and the fields grow wild.
What picture books about sustainability do you use in your classroom? Let me know in the comments.