Published in time for Earth Day’s 50th anniversary year, these children’s books showcase the natural world, provide guidance for paving a path to sustainable living, and profile people making a difference.
Books showcase creatures on land, sea, and overhead: what they give us and what they need from us.
Leslie Bulion, illus. by Robert Meganck. Peachtree, Mar.
Verses offer facts about frogs, salamanders, and caecilians, highlighting the role they play in their ecosystems and the key threats facing amphibian populations.
The Bat Book
Charlotte Milner. DK, Feb.
In this companion to The Bee Book and The Sea Book, Milner focuses on the importance of the world’s only flying mammal to our planet.
April Pulley Sayre. Beach Lane, out now.
Poetic text and photos provide an up-close peek at frogs’ lives in the wild. (For a q&a with Sayre and author Sy Montgomery, see “Observation and Conservation.")
Curious About Birds
Cathryn Sill, illus. by John Sill. Peachtree, Mar.
Launching the Discovering Nature board book series, this title introduces early readers to the basic concepts and characteristics of birds.
The Elephant’s New Shoe
Laurel Neme and the Wildlife Alliance, illus. by Ariel Landy. Orchard, Aug.
In this true story, an orphaned elephant with a severe foot injury is rescued by the Wildlife Alliance—and becomes one of the first animals to receive a prosthetic limb.
Shana Keller, illus. by Ramona Kaulitzki. Sleeping Bear, Apr.
Based on an event witnessed by nature writer Rachel Carson, this is the story of a firefly that plunges into the sea after mistaking bioluminescence for other fireflies.
Candace Fleming, illus. by Eric Rohmann. Holiday House/Porter, out now.
The team behind the Sibert Honor book Giant Squid address the key role honeybees play in several ecosystems and the importance of conserving the species. “Fleming uses lyrical language to describe just how jam-packed Apis’s short life is,” PW’s starred review said, while “Rohmann’s realistic oil-on-paper illustrations artfully capture close-up details.”
Joey: A Baby Koala and His Mother
Nic Bishop. Scholastic Press, Jul.
Text and photos capture the interaction between a mother koala and her little one.
My Stinky Summer by S. Bug
Paul Meisel. Holiday House, Jun.
Meisel’s detailed illustrations accompany this account about how stink bugs and other invasive species impact ecosystems, which must be kept in balance.
Numenia and the Hurricane: Inspired by a True Migration Story
Fiona Halliday. Page Street, Jan.
Based on actual events, this book tells of a migrating bird that is separated from her family in a hurricane, including info about migration and the need to preserve birds’ breeding grounds.
Obsessive About Octopuses
Owen Davey. Flying Eye, Apr.
Davey’s illustrated guide to various kinds of octopuses features facts about where they live, what they eat, and how we can protect them.
One Day on Our Blue Planet... in the Outback
Ella Bailey. Flying Eye, May.
Joining this nature-themed series, Bailey’s story about a curious young kangaroo introduces children to animal life in Australia, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
Scientists in the Field: Condor Comeback
Sy Montgomery, photos by Tianne Strombeck. HMH, July.
Photos illustrate Sibert medalist Montgomery’s story of the scientists and citizens who have focused their efforts on returning endangered California condors to the wild. (For a q&a with Montgomery and author April Pulley Sayer, see “Observation and Conservation.")
Slide & Surprise in the Ocean
Natalie Marshall. Scholastic/Cartwheel, Feb.
In this interactive board book, kids uncover animals hidden underwater.
The Spirit of Springer: The Real-Life Rescue of an Orphaned Orca
Amanda Abler, illus. by Levi Hastings. Little Bigfoot, Mar.
When a killer whale calf was discovered swimming alone in Puget Sound in 2002, scientists worked to identify her and reunite her with her family off the coast of British Columbia.
Weird, Wild, Amazing!: Exploring the Incredible World of Animals
Tim Flannery, illus. by Sam Caldwell. Norton, Aug.
Flannery, a science researcher who heads up Australia’s Climate Council, examines animals living in various habitats in this book integrating concepts of climate change, evolution, and conservation.
Wildlives: 50 Extraordinary Animals That Made History
Ben Lerwill, illus. by Sarah Walsh. S&S/Atheneum, Feb.
These collaborators present true stories of animals who displayed extraordinary bravery, aided in groundbreaking discoveries, and demonstrated true friendship.
Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery
Meeg Pincus, illus. by Yas Imamura. Sleeping Bear, Mar.
In 1976, the destination of the monarch butterflies that annually pass from Canada to the United States to Mexico was discovered. (Spoiler alert: it’s an oyamel grove in Central Mexico.)
These titles for young readers explore the ramifications of climate change.
Climate Change and You: How Climate Change Affects Your Life
Emily Raij, Capstone, Jan.
Readers learn how climate change impacts everyday life, how scientists study it and what their current research reveals, as well as what children can do to reverse its effects.
Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy
Tara Daimon, illus. by Archana Sreenivasan. Putnam, May.
Extreme weather affects two children’s lives in very different ways in this picture book demonstrating how the power of nature can bring people together.
DK Findout! Climate Change
This handbook outlines what kids can do in their everyday lives to prevent further damage to the climate.
Journey Under the Arctic
Fabien Cousteau and James O. Fraioli, illus. by Joe St. Pierre. S&S/McElderry, Mar.
The second volume in the Fabien Cousteau Expeditions series of graphic novels follows a deep-sea dive and reveals how climate change impacts the ocean and its inhabitants.
My Little Golden Book About Weather
Dennis R. Shealy, illus. by Xindi Yan. Random/Golden, May.
Shealy covers such topics as the effects of the sun’s energy, the four seasons, how clouds are formed, and what a meteorologist is.
Scientists in the Field: The Big One: The Cascadia Earthquakes and the Science of Saving Lives
Elizabeth Rusch. HMH, Aug.
This account examines how scientists are studying to improve early natural-disaster warning predictions in the Pacific Northwest and how individuals and communities can prepare for them.
Biographies spotlight explorers and defenders of the environment
Darwin’s Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Search for Evolution
Christiane Dorion, illus. by Harry Tennant. Candlewick Studio, Mar.
A profile of Wallace, Darwin’s friend and competitor, who simultaneously discovered the process of natural selection.
The Elephant Doctor of India
Janie Chodosh. Chicago Review Press, Aug.
The author examines the work of Kushal Konwar Sarma, a modern conservationist working to save elephants in the Udalgari District of India.
Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Alexandra Stewart, illus. by Joe Todd-Stanton. Bloomsbury, Feb.
This book chronicles the lives and achievements of Hillary and Norgay, who in 1953 became the first people to reach the top of Mount Everest.
The Forest Man: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
Anne Matheson, illus. by Kay Widdowson. Flowerpot Press, Apr.
To save the forest on his native island of Majuli in India from being washed away, Payeng has spent four decades re-growing it and planting more than 1,400 acres of new trees.
Wangari Maathai: Get to Know the Woman Who Planted Trees to Bring Change
Lisa A. Crayton. Capstone, out now.
Crayton profiles a Kenyan woman who was a fierce protector of the environment, a courageous advocate for women’s rights, and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Books provide guidance for paving a path to sustainable living.
A Dolphin’s Wish: How You Can Help Make a Difference and Save Our Oceans
Trevor McCurdie, illus. by Cinzia Battistel. Sourcebooks Explore, Mar.
A family of dolphins stars in this tale about the dangers of plastic pollution, which aims to inspire readers to do their part to help solve the problem.
Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet
Nanette Heffernan, illus. by Bao Luu. Charlesbridge, Jan.
Pictures and words celebrate this annual endeavor, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, supporting energy conservation and advocating that nonessential lights be turned off for one hour.
The Future of Energy: From Solar Cells to Flying Wind Farms
M.M. Eboch. Capstone, Jan.
The author explains how traditional fossil fuels are damaging the environment and how solar, water, wind, and geothermal power are clean and renewable alternate energy sources.
How to Make a Better World: For Every Kid Who Wants to Make a Difference
Keilly Swift. DK, Mar.
Readers will learn how they can become activists for the environment and combat
Let's Get Gardening: 30 Easy Eco-Gardening Projects
This hands-on activity guide teaches kids about conservation, recycling, and sustainability.
My Green Day: 10 Green Things I Can Do Today
Melanie Walsh. Candlewick, Mar.
Walsh outlines 10 simple ways that children can help the environment.
One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey
Henry Cole. Scholastic Press, Apr.
This wordless tale follows the life cycle of a paper bag, sourced from a tree growing in the forest, as it becomes a beloved bag used and reused by multiple generations of a family.
Eun-ju Kim, trans. by Joungmin Lee Comfort, illus. by Ji-won Lee. Scribe/Scribble, Apr.
In a starred review of this digitally illustrated guide to the life cycle of plastic, PW said, “The book objectively presents the petroleum-based substance’s contributions to the field of medicine and to the accessibility of manufactured goods alongside its increasingly harsh toll on the environment.”
The Plastic Problem
Aubre Andrus. Lonely Planet, Apr.
The author of 101 Small Ways to Change the World encourages readers to be responsible stewards of the environment through actions such as cutting down on plastic usage.
Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation
Candy J. Cooper and Marc Aronson. Bloomsbury, May.
Based on Cooper’s reporting and featuring government documents and photos, this book chronicles the story of the Flint water crisis and the residents who demanded action. (For a q&a with Cooper and Aronson, see “Troubled Water.”)
Recycle and Remake: Creative Projects for Eco Kids
This roundup of activities, information, and ideas provides kids with the know-how to help the environment.
Taming Plastic: Stop the Pollution
Albert Bates. Orca/7th Generation, Feb.
Bates examines this environmental crisis; how we can help solve it by creating renewable, biodegradable options; and what kids can do to live more plastics-free lives.
Lyrical picture books, memoirs, and more highlight the importance of cherishing and protecting our planet’s ecosystems.
The Bug Girl: A True Story
Sophia Spencer, with Margaret McNamara, illus. by Kerascoët. Random/Schwartz & Wade, Feb.
Sophia, now in fourth grade, relates how she was bullied for loving insects until hundreds of women scientists rallied around her. McNamara is the author of 2018’s Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton and many other children’s books.
John Wood. Booklife, July.
Joining the Planet Protector series, this tale centers on one of four fictional environmentalist heroes on a quest to save Earth from the destructive humans who came before them.
Dive In: Swim with Sea Creatures at Their Actual Size
Roxie Munro. Holiday House, Apr.
This examination of coral reefs around the world includes true-to-size illustrations of ocean animals and information about protecting this ecosystem.
A Forest in the City
Andrea Curtis, illus. by Pierre Pratt. Groundwood, May.
Curtis traces the history of urban trees, underscoring their importance to cities and the need to create a healthy environment for them.
If We Were Gone: Imagining the World Without People
John Coy, illus. by Natalie Capannelli. Millbrook, Mar.
This cautionary picture book theorizes what life on Earth would be like if humans vanished.
I Am the Lorax: Based on Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax
Courtney Carbone, illus. by Tom Brannon. Random House, Jan.
Ages up to 3.
These collaborators bring the environmental message of Seuss’s classic to board book readers.
I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast
Michael Holland, illus. by Phillip Giordano. Flying Eye, May.
This illustrated overview of the role plants play in our lives (like providing the rubber in shoes and the grains in cereal) includes plant projects and activities.
If You Take Away the Otter
Susannah Buhrman-Deever, illus. by Matthew Trueman. Candlewick, May.
In a story about the need to preserve habitats, the author recounts a time when people hunted sea otters almost to extinction, leading to the growth of sea urchins and the destruction of kelp forests.
Charlotte Zolotow, illus. by Philip C. Stead. Holiday House/Porter, Mar.
Originally published in 1960 and featuring new illustrations by Stead, this tale pays homage to experiencing nature as a child and as an adult, celebrating, PW’s review said, the “companionable contentment derived from the simplest things, anchored in the natural world.”
Me and You and the Universe
Bernardo Marçolla. Free Spirit, Mar.
Brazilian author-illustrator Marçolla takes readers on a journey connecting Earth’s plants and creatures to the infinite universe.
My Friend Earth
Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Francesca Sanna. Chronicle, Feb.
With a lyrical voice and die-cut pages, Newbery Medalist MacLachlan’s ode to the Earth shows children all that the planet does for their benefit.
Melissa & Doug, Aug. 2019.
Aimed at encouraging kids to discover the world around them, this interactive line includes four Book Towers (each containing 10 chunky books): Little Nursery Books, Little Vehicle Books, Little Animal Books, and Little Learning Books (ages 8 months–up); Book Bundle: One Tree, Baby Animals and Animals Everywhere (ages 3–5); Book & Puzzle: Deep Blue Sea (ages 3–5); and Book & Game: Mamas and Babies (ages 3–5).
The Ocean: Exploring Our Blue Planet
Miranda Krestovnikoff, illus. by Jill Calder. Bloomsbury, Feb.
This series addition examines the creatures and plants that populate the world’s oceans, and the individuals who have explored them.
The Ocean in Your Bathtub
Seth Fishman, illus. by Isabel Greenberg. Greenwillow, May.
Words and pictures present the ocean ecosystem of Earth and how the planet’s five oceans affect people’s daily lives.
Eileen Spinelli, illus. by Rogério Coelho. WorthyKids, Mar.
Counting up to 10 and back down again, this picture book outlines reasons to love our planet and provides practical ways to help take care of it.
This back-to-the-basics overview answers questions including “What influences climate?”; “How does pollution affect soil?”; and “How do we protect our planet for the future?”
When opened and folded back, this board book introduction to geography becomes a freestanding globe.
Peter and the Tree Children
Peter Wohlleben, illus. by Cale Atkinson, trans. from the German by Jane Billinghurst. Greystone Kids, Apr.
The author of The Hidden Life of Trees for adults and Can You Hear the Trees Talking? for middle graders here teaches younger children about the forest through the story of a forester and a squirrel.
Professor Astro Cat’s Deep-Sea Voyage
Dominic Walliman, illus. by Ben Newman. Flying Eye, Apr.
In this series installment, Professor Astro Cat showcases ocean ecosystems that are increasingly threatened by climate change and human exploitation.
Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
Linda Elovitz Marshall, illus. by Ilaria Urbinati. Little Bee, Jan.
Text and art reveal how Potter’s love of nature and dedication to preservation helped save the English countryside from developers in the 20th century. PW’s review called this “an attractive introduction to an iconic creator.”
Carme Lemniscates. Candlewick, Mar.
Lemniscates, author-illustrator of Trees and Birds, here illuminates the literal and metaphorical potential of seeds.
Seek & Find Biomes
Jorrien Peterson. Gibbs Smith, Apr.
This picture book reveals plants and animals native to the tundra, alpine, forest, rainforest, savanna, grassland, desert, freshwater, and marine biomes.
This Raindrop Has a Billion Stories to Tell
Linda Ragsdale, illus. by Srimalie Bassani. Flowerpot, Apr.
A raindrop’s journey around Earth serves as an introduction to the water cycle and the importance of water conservation.
Under Your Feet: Soil, Sand and Everything Underground
Royal Horticultural Society, illus. by Wenjia Tang. DK, Apr. Ages 5–8.
This compilation of environmental facts about soil explains how it affects our daily lives and climate change.