Recommended Reads: Book Suggestions, Toddler to Adult

With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in about a month, now is the perfect time to seek out reading material for the young people in your life to spark their interest in nature, environmental science, and conservation. We’ve compiled a list of books by age level, including one fiction and one nonfiction selection for each. Consider seeking out these titles in your local library, reading them with your child, or gifting one to a teenaged relative!


  • Curious George Plants a Tree, by H.A. Rey
    • “George loves to go to the science museum. So, when he finds out that the museum is planning a “Green Day” dedicated to recycling and planting trees, and George is curious and wants to help out! But little monkeys eager to help can sometimes become little monkeys getting into trouble. When George begins to find and recycle things around town that aren’t quite ready for the recycle bin, he gets into a jam. Thankfully, George isn’t the only one who wants to help—the whole community can’t wait to lend a hand—and help George and the museum plant some trees!” (Google Books)
  • Compost Stew, by Mary McKenna Sidals
    • “Apple cores; Bananas, bruised; Coffee grounds with filters, used; Just add to the pot; and let it all rot; into Compost Stew! From eggshells to wiggly worms, this delightful recipe in bouncy verse features items—some familiar and some not so—that are fit for the home compost bin and will nourish Mother Earth.” (Google Books)

Early Elementary

  • Over and Under the Pond, by Kate Messner
    • “In this book, readers will discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. Over the pond, the water is a mirror, reflecting the sky. But under the pond is a hidden world of minnows darting, beavers diving, tadpoles growing. These and many other secrets are waiting to be discovered…over and under the pond.” (Google Books)
  • The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge, by Joanna Cole
    • “Like it or not, global warming is a hot topic, and it will affect the younger generation the most. With trademark simplicity and wit, Joanna Cole explains why the earth is getting warmer, and Bruce Degen’s bright, action-filled illustrations make the science easy to understand and fun to learn. This team brings a new, improved understanding to climate change, engaging kids and empowering all.” (Google Books)

Late Elementary/Early Middle School

  • Judy Moody Saves the World, by Megan McDonald
    • “Where would the world be without Judy Moody? Judy Moody’s in the mood to whip the planet into shape. Her class is learning about the environment, and Judy is startled to learn about the destruction of the rainforest and the endangered species in her own backyard, not to mention her own family’s crummy recycling habits. So, never one to take things lying down, Judy Moody gets on the case.” (Google Books)
  • Who Was Rachel Carson?, By Sarah Fabiny
    • This short biography of Rachel Carson will introduce kids to how scientists can protect the environment and teach them about the importance of Rachel Carson to the conservation movement. “Though she grew up in rural Pennsylvania, Rachel Carson dreamed of the sea. In 1936 she began work with the Bureau of Fisheries and soon after published Under the Sea Wind, her first of many nature books. Her 1962 bestseller, Silent Spring, sent shockwaves through the country and warned of the dangers of DDT and other pesticides. A pioneering environmentalist, Rachel Carson helped awaken the global consciousness for conservation and preservation.” (Goodreads)

Late Middle/Early High School

  • Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen
    • “Carl Hiaasen (Basket Case, etc.) plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies–three middle school kids determined to beat the screwed-up adult system. Sure to be a hoot, er, hit with middle school mystery fans.” (
  • The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth, by Rachel Ignotofsky
    • “An illustrated tour of our planet’s ecosystems both large and small, from reefs, deserts and rainforests to a single drop of water – from the bestselling author of Women in Science. Through exquisite illustrations, maps and infographics, bestselling author Rachel Ignotofsky explains how our planet works, from its incredible ecosystems and the plants and animals that live there to the importance of biodiversity, weather cycles and more. Including information on the dangers of climate change and ideas for how to protect Planet Earth, this utterly charming guide is perfect for all nature-loving readers on the planet we call home.” (Google Books)

High School to Adult

  • Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
    • Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver’s riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world.” (Amazon)
  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
    • “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.” (Goodreads)

If you are interested in connecting with other book lovers and exploring environmental topics through reading and discussing books, you’re in luck! NNC will be starting a book club this summer for adults and teens ages 16 and up. Please email if you are interested – this will not commit you to participating, but will help us gauge potential participation for planning purposes.