Explore going green, sustainability, and eco-friendly habits with these picture books for elementary students.
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Going Green: Eco-Friendly Picture Books
Over the years, I’ve worked on cutting a lot of waste and saved a lot of money in the process. With a small handful of rare exceptions, I no longer use plastic sandwich bags, paper towels, and napkins. Small changes make a big difference, and these books are a great way to encourage eco-friendly habits and trends. Reduce, reuse, and recycle doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
Use these books for spring, Earth Day, or to encourage great sustainable actions.
Plastic: Past, Present, and Future by Eun-ju Kim
Did you know that plastic lasts pretty much forever? I’ve been working on making a conscious effort to reduce plastic lately, so I really enjoyed this book about the history of plastic. I felt it offered a balanced perspective (ie no bashing or shaming!) while also stressing the importance of using less plastic.
Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel
In this story, recycling is a superpower! Michael encourages citizens who care about the earth to get creative with different ways they can keep our planet healthy and green.
The Adventures of a Plastic Water Bottle by Allison Inches
Told from the POV of a plastic water bottle, learn about the life cycle of a plastic bottle and how old, recycled materials can be turned into new.
We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child
Charlie and Lola discover a recycling competition and Lola wants to win. If she can recycle one hundred items in two weeks, she will win a tree to plant. Lola asks her friends at school to help her, and the team works together to get the job done.
The Lorax is a spokesperson for the trees, so when the Once-ler begins chopping them down at top speed, the Lorax warns that there will be dangerous consequences if he continues. Unfortunately, he chooses to learn this lesson the hard way.
Curious George Plants a Tree by H. A. Rey
Curious George finds out that the science museum is planning a “Green Day”, a special day with a focus on recycling and planting trees. George starts recycling with a passion, but he begins to recycle things that weren’t quite ready for the bin. The town pitches in to help the project, and soon George learns about the right way to recycle.
Not for Me, Please: I Choose to Act Green by Maria Godsey
This book shows a variety of scenarios and situations in which kids can choose to “act green”. Readers will be inspired to take a stand for the earth in brand new ways.
The Berenstain Bears Go Green by Jan and Mike Berenstain
The Berenstain family takes a trip to the city dump, and there discover an overflowing, stinking mess! Together they work to solve the problem before it’s too late.
Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg
Walter doesn’t think it’s very important to care for the earth. That is, until he enters a dream that completely changes his mind with its grim images of the future. The end will inspire your children to think of ways to care for the earth as well.
The Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean by Deborah Diesen
Mr. Fish has noticed a problem in his ocean home–it’s a mess! He rounds up a few friends and together they discover where the junk is coming from and how they can clean up the sea. As a team, they take responsibility for the trash and help the ocean return to a healthy state.
Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers
This book gives children an inside look into where the trash goes after the garbage man loads it in his truck. Follow the truck to the landfill, the recycling plant, and the incinerator to see how some trash is burned to create energy.
Snowy White World to Save by Stephanie Lisa Tara
A mother polar bear has made it her life’s mission to protect and nurture her young cub. This task is becoming increasingly harder, she finds, as the effects of global warming continue to encroach on her way of life.
What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet by Jess French
Learn about the eco-system, trash, and pollution with this heavily illustrated book.
One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul
Isatou Ceesay noticed a big problem in her community. Whenever people were done using plastic bags, they dropped them on the ground, creating ugly piles that attracted deadly mosquitoes, smelled horrible, and strangled livestock. Isatou was determined to find a way to solve the problem.
Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley
Colonel Trash Truck knows that our planet is a beautiful place that deserves to be protected and kept clean. He’s on a mission to go green and wants to teach children to join him on his quest!
Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
This is the remarkable true story of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who used her influence and platform to plant over 30 million trees in her country and helped to cultivate a passion for protecting and preserving nature amongst her countrymen.
On a windy day, a bulldozer moves trash around in the landfill and uncovers an empty plastic grocery bag. The breeze catches it and it flies away, journeying into the hands of several different people across town who each find a unique way to reuse the bag and keep it from the landfill.
Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter
In a land that was completely filled up with stinking trash and had nowhere to send it, a solution emerged in the Garbage Barge. This floating boat was loaded up with the unwanted trash, but soon the townspeople realized that they couldn’t just continue to produce trash pile after trash pile with no consequences.
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole
In traditional magic school bus style that combines humor and science, Ms. Frizzle takes her class on the trip of a lifetime to explore the causes of and cures for climate change.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh
This colorful, engaging book offers ten practical things that even the youngest among us can begin doing today in the fight to keep our planet a healthy place to live for years to come.