Sustainable, eco-friendly and green focussed books for kids and teens need to be interesting and relevant to our current challenges. It's not always easy to find great books in this genre so I'm briefly reviewing some of the books we have enjoyed that are worthy of adding to your bookshelf. Click on the linked book title to find a copy.
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It Starts With a Seed (ages 3-6)
This is one of our favourite books, featuring a simple idea and I'm in love with the organic feel of the cover not to mention the gorgeous illustrations inside. Take a poetic journey, following the life of a tiny seed transforming into a huge tree, which in turn creates a beautiful home for animals and begins to produce it's own seeds. It is a peaceful read to end a day with little ones and feed their appreciation of nature.
The Earth Book (ages 3-5)
Brightly coloured with lots of easy ideas to make small changes to help the earth, and it's printed on recycled materials with soy ink. Cute, playful and positive with a pull out poster too, this has helped to reduce our water usage and it has a strong message that no matter how young, kids do have the power to make small changes for the better. (Great Book for Earth Day too)
Neville the Devil (ages 4-6)
Kids naturally love animals and in this story you can follow Neville on his adventure and learn more about this much loved Tassie icon. You can also learn more about this Aussie author and his work with wildlife here. We like to get the most out of our books and really appreciate it when they lead to other activities, discussions and researching interests.
Coral Kingdom (ages 3-6)
Again, another book with beautiful illustrations, dive into it to view some of the wonders of the ocean and of course, the stunning coral reefs. The last page opens to a three page scene with some simple, yet useful explanations for kids on the significance of preserving coral and actions that could help. The inside cover has some interesting marine life along with their names, and it's fun to identify some of the unusual looking ones like the Unicorn Fish.
This one doesn't specifically have a green message, but I love that it is based in the Australian bush with plants and animals we can recognise on our own little adventures. The excitement of a child finding a Gumnut baby, Banksia Man or Ragged Blossom in real life is priceless and leads to lots of fun with natural objects where we can create our own characters and stories. Books like this classic really help to spark kids imaginations rather than their need to shop or collect figurines. I still have my very battered and worn hardcover book gifted to me a as child and it's a book I will never ever part with!
Ella Diaries #11: Going Green (ages 8-12)
Follow the funny adventures of Ella through her light-hearted and sometimes silly diary entries as their school goes green and is looking to elect a 'Planet Protector'. It covers many of the issues of recycling, compost and general trash that are being talked about in most schools these days. Definitely strongly aimed at girls, and probably more suited to upper primary kids, although my 6 year old absolutely loved it and has started coming up with her own plan to protect the planet more. I love that it's a fun, easy to read story that kids can directly relate to through fiction.
The Lorax (ages 5-10)
You've probably seen the movie (if you haven't, you should!), but Dr Seuss fans will appreciate the book, which they have now made in a recycled hard cover version. It's a kooky story with a deep message of how important it is to take of the planet and is a book that can not only be read many many times but one that will likely be handed down and appreciated by the next generation too. Entertaining, without lecturing and is particularly great for kids who might be oversensitive to hearing about some of the more serious impacts our modern lifestyle has on the planet. We want our kids to be empowered, not stressed about the future, and some messages they hear are sometimes a bit too gloomy.
There aren't many zero waste kids books and this one even discusses dumpster diving, freegans, hard rubbish and how trash is not necessarily things that can no longer be used. See how people around the world turn trash into useful items through creativity, and sometimes necessity. Learn cool facts, history and lifestyle changes including the great depression times where everything was used to its fullest capacity.... before plastic really took off.
Great for building current, relevant knowledge, adults will likely learn a few things too, and it would come in handy for school projects. I'd love to see this book series at every school library. There are several books by this author like Pedal It (about how bikes are used around the world and are evolving to make positive changes) and Brilliant (about green energy), plus she has a new book coming out in the next few months. These are all packed with great information, interesting photos and facts and available to download as an e-book.
True Cost Series (ages 8+)
I've probably mentioned these on the blog previously, full of awesome facts, figures and information for kids and young adults wanting to learn what goes on behind the scenes of the things we buy, and how to take a more critical, informed look at areas most people perhaps don't consider or are completely unaware of. I love all the books in this series which include The True Cost of Toys, The True Cost of Food and The True Cost of Technology . It is a little similar to the series above, although it is more U.K. based than Australian, it is highly relevant to todays industry and consumers.
Eco Warriors to the Rescue (ages 5-8)
A gorgeous adventure style book with the young eco warriors figuring out how to help our native plants survive. The photography and artwork (from the archives of the National Library) are a great showcase of our indigenous flowers and enables kids to get a great close up look and perhaps even be able to name a few. (I was a bit surprised recently when neither of our kids, or my partner for that matter, had heard of the Sturt Desert Pea, which is our states flower!.... so I'm hoping this book will lead to a bit more interest and general knowledge in our household!) I love that it encourages treading lightly when in the bush as well as not picking native flowers and types of plants that are great for our own backyards. Love this book on so many levels!
Electrifying Eco Race Cars (ages 7-12)
This book features some seriously impressive race cars to drool over that run on green power. From solar, wind gas/elecyric hybrids and even a hydrogen fuel cell which is so fast (488 km/h) it actually needs a parachute to slow down and stop. Lots of fun facts and we really really liked the formula 3 race car that runs on waste products from chocolate factories.
These cars bring a bit of excitement to being sustainable, and will be a big hit with car lovers, maybe inspiring some future innovators too.
Eco-gifts: Upcycled Gifts You Can Make (ages 8-14)
Upcycle common items and make beautiful gifts including candles, bath salts and birdhouses. There is also a project to upcycle a dog food bag into a usable tote that we really want to try. Another project teaches how to decorate, shrink and repurpose cut off pieces of plastic containers that may be headed to recycling. There are a lot of unique ideas that kids can take and put their own spin on and just goes to show trash can be made into beautiful things. Mari Bolte has published a number of books along this theme and you can check out some of her others here.
Amazing Outdoor Art You Can Make and Share (ages 8-14)
This is part of a series of craft books where the ''Sleepover Girls'' create some great projects. (Sorry, another girly focussed one). Follow step by step instructions and learn how to make your own terrarium, bug spray, solar powered jars lights, bird feeders and more. Lots of great ideas to use at home or for gifts that are really cute and relatively simple to do. (Plus, it is also a great way to prolong the inevitable focus on makeup, nail polish and Disney movies) at girly sleepovers). Younger kids can have a lot of fun with this book too, but will require some help with some of the more difficult steps.
The Usborne Outdoor Book (ages 6+)