Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth-Friendly Fiction for Kids

There are many great non-fiction "green" books out for kids, but I think a compelling story can be a great way to learn something new as well. Here are a few of my picks for Earth-friendly children's books. Feel free to share your favorites in the Comments section below.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
When my seven-year-old came home from school a month ago with a seed planted in a cup, I asked him what kind of plant it would be. He told me it was a truffula tree. Hmmm... I thought, I've never heard of that tree. It wasn't until we sat down to read this book that I realized Dr. Seuss had inspired the name. See the picture for how well his truffula tree (actually, a pinto bean) has done!

The Lorax has to be one of the first children's books to talk about conservation. In typical, whimsical fashion, Dr. Seuss rhymes his way through the story of the beautiful Truffula Trees discovered one day by the Once-ler. They are so beautiful, he can't resist chopping just one down to knit a very special Thneed. Of course, one Thneed leads to another and before long, the forest has been converted to a giant manufacturing plant. The Lorax pops down from the sky along the way to point out the danger of the Once-Ler's ways, but his warnings fall on deaf ears. But all hope is not lost - this is Dr. Seuss! What if there happened to be one seed left? What if that seed was given to a child?

Just Grace Goes Green by Charise Mericle Harper
The fourth book in a series, this story puts the reader in the shoes of a 3rd grader named Just Grace (to distinguish her from the other 3 Graces in her class). Her teacher has just announced that her class is "going green" and each of them will have to come up with their own project. Grace taps into her creativity (and mild superhero powers) to make a difference in the end. This book is full of humor and great illustrations - done by Just Grace, of course!

Hoot, Flush, and Scat All by Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen is one of my current favorite middle-grade (ages 8-12) authors. Each of these three books features a child from Florida trying to save some part of the environment. Whether its a special habitat for owls or clean ocean water and beaches, the children always have to face up to nasty grown-ups and greedy corporations. Full of interesting characters, challenging predicatments, and humorous situations, these books entertain just as much as they teach.

2030: A Day in the Life of Tomorrow's Kids by Amy Zuckerman and James Daly
What might life be like for kids twenty years in the future? This book offers a fun, illustrated look at a futuristic world. Can you imagine clothes with built-in solar panels that generate enough energy to run your electronic gadgets? Can you really just beam your health information from your watch to your doctor? Will schools and other buildings be built out of giant size Lego blocks that can be moved around when the needs change? The book gives some interesting ideas and sends your mind on a journey of all the possibilities.


  1. Thanks for the tip on the Lorax - what a wonderful book! Being Earth day, I thought I would treat the kids to a book that would stimulate thought about the environment, as well dinner table conversation. Worried that it would be a "boring" topic for them, I purchased Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Dr. Seuss can make even cleaning your room fun so... End result, not only did they love the story, but the kids had some great ideas about what they would have said or done to stop the chopping of the trees. All the while they didn't realize that they were talking about real life concerns, until I pointed it out to them, which made them even more more excited to come up with ideas to protect the world they live in. After dinner they decided to plant some Romano beans and peas. Of course they kept looking every 10 minutes to see if they had sprouted yet! Anyhow, great book - thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Almost forgot, another great book for younger children is The Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore). Great for preschool through 1st grade, although my 3rd grader thoroughly enjoyed it this evening as well. In the book the cubs learn about ecology, conservation and recycling, and that every little bit, even by young "cubs" helps to protect the environment. Enjoy!