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Jeanne Nolan grows food. Starting as a teenager, she managed rural organic farms for 17 years. She returned to her hometown of Chicago in 2004 where she has since grown hundreds of farms and food gardens in and around the city — in downtown parks, public school yards, suburban estates, inner-city shelters, restaurant rooftops, even the mayor’s back yard. Her book, From The Ground Up: A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love and the Movement That's Changing the Nation, will be published by Random House in July. She lives in Glencoe, IL with her husband and daughters in a home where all are encouraged to have dirt under their fingernails.

Amanda Little writes about the environment. She has traveled from deepsea oil rigs into the guts of the electricity grid, from Kansas cornfields to rooftop farms in Queens, to investigate America’s changing environmental landscape. She teaches journalism at Vanderbilt University and has written for The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Outside. She's the author of Power Trip: The Story of America's Love Affair With Energy and co-wrote From the Ground Up. Amanda lives with her husband and kids in Nashville TN and is the sort of eco-activist who uses disposable diapers, eats too much meat, and has a passion for all-terrain vehicles.

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Read for the Trees! 10 Stellar Kids’ Books for the Future Environmentalist

By Jeanne & Amanda |

Nature plays a big role in most children’s books — usually it’s a lush, sunny paradise with talking animals. But few books explore the complexity of the natural world, and the impact humanity has on it.

Today, more than ever, our kids have a huge stake in the environment as they inherit a world with 7+ billion inhabitants and a climate out of whack. The impacts of climate change could be devastating in many major U.S. cities by 2050; that’s in 37 years, when our 5-year-old daughters will be 42 and may have 5-year-olds of their own. As our kids grow up, we want them to love the sunny playground of nature, but also to understand its power and its fragility.

Getting kids outdoors is surely one great way to foster a respect for natural world and help kids feel invested in its wellbeing. Reading good books is another.

Below we’ve listed our top 10 children’s books about nature and the environment, including picture books for the younger set and chapter books for tweens. Each in its own way illuminates not just the beauty of nature, but the complex relationship between humans and the environment. And each inspires young readers to become part of the solution.

There are some great titles we left out when narrowing the trove down to 10, including the many gems in the animals genre, from Little Bear and Charlotte’s Web to The One and Only Ivan. Big thanks to our friend and kid-lit savant Hope Moeller who teaches second grade at Ensworth school in Nashville and shared some of her faves for this list. We consider it a work-in-progress and want to hear your own favorites. Please post your top titles in the comments section.

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10 Stellar Kids' Books for the Future Environmentalist

"The Lorax", Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss does the impossible in all his books, but in The Lorax perhaps more than any other. Here, he celebrates the spectacular glory of nature and condemns the spectacular greed of humanity while inspiring kids to “speak for the trees” — all without being preachy, smug, finger-waggy or precious. Plus, this book holds the single best, most hopeful word ever written in children’s literature: UNLESS.

 

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About Jeanne & Amanda

littlenolangyo

Jeanne & Amanda

Jeanne Nolan grows food. Starting as a teenager, she managed rural organic farms for 17 years. Her book, From The Ground Up: A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love and the Movement That's Changing the Nation, will be published by Random House in July. Amanda Little writes about the environment. She has traveled around the world to investigate America’s changing environmental landscape. She co-wrote From the Ground Up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Jeanne & Amanda's latest posts →

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One thought on “Read for the Trees! 10 Stellar Kids’ Books for the Future Environmentalist

  1. Michael Oakleaf says:

    What a tough list to create; I can think of so many outstanding picture books dealing with nature and the environment.

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