The 6 Best Children’s Books about the Environment for Every Age

Written by Katie Begley
Published: September 22, 2022

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Reading with your child is a great way to encourage literacy and let them tap into interests and passions, learning more about things in the world around them. Books about the environment can be fun, interactive, and educational. The best children’s books keep the reader’s development in mind, including things like helpful pictures and graphics, as well as steps that they can take to help the environment.

Books for toddlers are ideal for reading together. They can be brightly colored and have pictures that help your child understand the concepts of taking care of the earth. As they learn to read independently, challenge them with books that use more complex language and structure, introducing scientific concepts that they can use to make their own observations. If your child is passionate about the environment or even wants to pursue a job in that field, books can be one of their first entry points to a lifelong career.

If you want to raise a reader who cares for the earth, here are the best children’s books about the environment for everyone from young children just learning about books to teens and young adults ready to take on the eco world.

  1. The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth
  2. The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth
    • 18 pages.
    • Customers recommend this book for children ages 4 through 7.
    • Features information about the planet's geology, geography, weather, and atmosphere.
    Check Amazon
  3. The EARTH Book
  4. The EARTH Book
    • 40 pages.
    • Customers recommend this book for children ages 2 through 5.
    • A picture book about caring for the environment and being eco-friendly.
    Check Amazon
  5. What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet (Protect the Planet)
  6. What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet (Protect the Planet)
    • 72 pages.
    • Customers recommend this book for children ages 4 through 8.
    • An informative book about recycling.
    Check Amazon
  7. The Adventure Is Now
  8. The Adventure Is Now
    • 336 pages.
    • Customers recommend this book for readers ages 9 through 12.
    • A middle-grade novel.
    Check Amazon
  9. Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids: 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors (Exploring for Kids Activity Books and Journals)
  10. Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids: 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors (Exploring for Kids Activity Books and Journals)
    • Fifty creative ideas for outdoor projects
    • Great for building skills and deepening relationships
    • Helps instill love for nature in your kids
    Check Amazon
  11. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
  12. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
    • 80 pages.
    • A collection of speeches by young environmental activist, Greta Thunberg.
    Check Amazon

Best Overall: The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth by Anne-Sophie Baumann

Best Overall
The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth
  • 18 pages.
  • Customers recommend this book for children ages 4 through 7.
  • Features information about the planet's geology, geography, weather, and atmosphere.
Check Amazon

In our review, the overall best children’s book about the environment is The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth by Anne-Sophie Baumann. This book has something for all ages and is my go-to recommendation for children’s books. It is written with Kindergarteners in mind but many of the concepts are engaging for older children as well. It details the science behind many of the phenomena that happen in the natural world, such as magma flowing out of a volcano, how different weather patterns form, and the water cycle.

Younger kids who aren’t reading yet can follow along with the helpful illustrations and pop-up portions of the book. There are things to open and close, tabs to pull, and even wheels to turn that show new and interesting facts. How much fun is that?!?!

All of this is a great introduction to the later portions of the book that show how each of us can care for the earth. If your child shows an interest in one particular area, there are other books by Anne-Sophie Baumann that go into even more detail. The Ultimate Book of Animals is another great option to help them really connect with the wildlife that they can help by taking care of the environment.

Best for Toddlers: The EARTH Book by Todd Parr

Best for Toddlers
The EARTH Book
  • 40 pages.
  • Customers recommend this book for children ages 2 through 5.
  • A picture book about caring for the environment and being eco-friendly.
Check Amazon

This brightly-colored board book has been a favorite in my house since my first child was born. In fact, we put it on our baby registry because we wanted to introduce the concept of caring for the world in a baby-friendly way from the beginning. Using his characteristic drawing style, Todd Parr creates a world that even young babies will be drawn to. The illustrations depict children and adults picking up litter, conserving water when they brush their teeth, planting things in the earth, and other things.

Board books are ideal for this age because they are easy for baby’s hands to turn the thicker pages. They also hold up well to babies who like to tug on the pages or even put them in their mouths. Three kids have used and loved this book in my home and it is still going strong.

It also comes with a fold-out poster in the same style. While it won’t be such a selling point for the youngest readers, you can set it aside for your child to use as they get older. Todd Parr has a number of other books that your child will also fall in love with that cover how to take care of each other as well as the environment.

Best for Early Readers: What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet by Jess French

Best for Early Readers
What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet (Protect the Planet)
  • 72 pages.
  • Customers recommend this book for children ages 4 through 8.
  • An informative book about recycling.
Check Amazon

This book connects readers to the actual things that they see and create through their daily lives, trash. It provides steps that your family can take right away to take better care of the earth, including recycling and reusing items rather than putting them in the trash. With plenty of examples, your child will be able to practice around the house. This also reinforces real-world concepts and the connection to what they read.

With plenty of pictures, this book keeps the interest of pre-readers as well. They can make connections between the things that they see and the words on the page. There is a mix of illustrated pictures and photos, making another link between what your child reads and experiences in the book and the real-world application.

The author, Dr. Jess French, is a veterinarian and has a passion for both animals and the planet. If your child really connects with her writing, you can also see her in her TV series, “Minibeast Adventures with Jess.” She explores small organisms, such as beetles and worms, as well as the amazing world that they live in. This is a great way to engage your new reader in multiple ways.

Best for Middle School: The Adventure is Now by Jess Redman

Best for Middle School
The Adventure Is Now
  • 336 pages.
  • Customers recommend this book for readers ages 9 through 12.
  • A middle-grade novel.
Check Amazon

This sweet coming-of-age tale centers on Milton P. Greene and his alter ego, Sea Hawk, the naturalist explorer that he becomes when he plays his favorite video game. He goes to Lone Island to work alongside his uncle, who is an environmental researcher. Milton gets to live out his dreams of being an adventurer while deciphering a field guide with clues to saving the island and its wildlife.

There are plenty of real-life tie-ins in this book that show your middle schooler what career paths there are as environmentalists, while still keeping the story fast-paced and exciting. They may also relate to the lovable main character, his love of video games, his desire to make a difference, and just the path that he takes to learn who he is.

The book is written for grades 4-6 and it is just over 300 pages long. If your child is comfortable with chapter books and reading on their own, they’ll love this story that is full of exotic places, animal species, and adventure. “The remote island filled with Dr. Dolittle–style flora and fauna helps to keep this message-driven tale afloat, and readers will likely wish for even more scenes with the imaginative fancies,” said Booklist.

Best for Budding Environmentalists: Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids: 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors

Best for Budding Environmentalists
Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids: 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors (Exploring for Kids Activity Books and Journals)
  • Fifty creative ideas for outdoor projects
  • Great for building skills and deepening relationships
  • Helps instill love for nature in your kids
Check Amazon

My kids also have this book and we’ve done so many projects out of it that some pages are beginning to show their wear. It is geared toward elementary-aged kids, ages 6-12, but even older kids will enjoy the activities. Even adults, including me, have fun! The book has one project or activity on each spread and includes written instructions, materials needed, a helpful drawing, and the skills that your kids will practice and develop.

Some of the projects can get messy and need special materials, such as building birdfeeders with peanut butter. Fortunately, you can see this ahead of time and plan on doing those projects outside. My favorite ones are those that encourage my kids to stop and observe the world around them. Not only is this a valuable skill for any child to develop, it almost always leads to more questions and inquiries. We end up learning about the animals that we see in our neighborhood or the lifecycle of certain bugs that they find.

There are plenty of tie-ins to other areas your kids may like as well, such as science or arts and crafts. If you are trying to do an activity with multiple children with different interests, you can still find something in this book that will appeal to them all. There are also extension questions on each page to spark discussion or challenge your older children to think deeper about the concepts.

Best for Teens: No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

Best for Teens
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
  • 80 pages.
  • A collection of speeches by young environmental activist, Greta Thunberg.
Check Amazon

Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg made headlines when she passionately and tirelessly called for reforms to address climate change. This collection of her most memorable speeches will inspire your teen to take action to make their voice heard.

Greta focuses on taking action, so be ready for some demands from your teen to make changes in your home. This can be a great opportunity for them to take ownership of your family’s green plan. Not only does this help the environment, but it can also be a great lesson in responsibility for your young adult. The speeches in this book are mostly short, easy reads, although they are full of fire and passion. They may just inspire your teen to write and deliver a few speeches of their own!

Criteria: How to Choose the Best Children’s Book About the Environment

There are three main things to consider when picking any book for your child. They are:

  • Reading level
  • Interest
  • Independence

Let’s look at these in more detail to give some insight on how to find the best book for your reader.

Reading Level

There are plenty of books out there for pre-readers that they will enjoy and that still encourage literacy. One of the first things that even young babies learn when reading is the concept of a book. Just hearing you read aloud and seeing you turn the pages teaches them that these amazing things called books contain fun, new ideas. As your child starts to read, look for a book that is at their level. You can challenge them a bit but beware of pushing them too fast. They may get discouraged and lose interest in reading.

Some great options include plenty of pictures and interactive features that non-readers will enjoy as well as main text that is accessible for most elementary readers. Inset boxes with more advanced facts and vocabulary will engage more advanced readers while the surrounding text and illustrations give enough context for even young readers to enjoy the book.

Interest

If your child loves the ocean, they may be more interested in books about how to protect the ocean. If they can’t get enough of animals, a book about wildlife might be more up their alley. Whatever your child is passionate about, try to find a children’s book that piques their interest. Even reluctant readers get very excited when they see a book about their favorite things.

There are also plenty of hands-on ways for your child to read and learn. Activity books with written instructions still provide the opportunity for them to build literacy skills while still giving the hands-on application and activity that appeals to them.

Independence

Does your child prefer to read on their own or do they like to share what they are reading with you, siblings, or friends? If you have a social reader, look for books that you can interact with and that have plenty of fun facts to share. For those who prefer their reading time to be solitary, a story that they can get lost in is a good option.

The 5 Different Types of Children’s Books about the Environment

Different types of books are geared toward different ages. Here are some of the most common kinds.

  • Board books – These are made of thicker cardboard that resists bending and tearing. They also tend to be simpler with plenty of pictures for young babies and toddlers to enjoy.
  • Picture books – These books have plenty of pictures that accompany the words on each page. They can be large and have a hardcover or softcover. They are good for kids just starting to read as well as their younger siblings who will enjoy the pictures.
  • Chapter books – Simple, short-chapter books are ideal for early elementary readers. Many have a designated reading level on the cover to help you find ones that are right for your child. As they progress, they can move up to longer and more complex chapter books.
  • Essays – These are written by interesting people and can be geared toward everyone from late elementary students to adults. Look for essays written by kids around the same age as your own to encourage them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes who is around their age.
  • Activity books – These are great for all ages. Many activity books have recommended ages on each project or activity and include a variety. Some can be geared to specific age groups or interests.
About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches Creative Writing at Indian Creek School and was awarded an Author Fellowship to Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She also enjoys spending time with her three kids and cat.

The 6 Best Children’s Books about the Environment for Every Age FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do you teach children about environmentalism?

Children often learn by watching those around them. One of the best ways for them to learn about taking care of the environment is to make it a daily part of your home routine. This can be by setting up a recycling can, turning off the faucets when you brush your teeth, or walking to the bus stop instead of driving.

What is the best environment for books?

If you want to teach your child about taking care of the earth, consider taking your reading time outside when possible. You can set up a blanket under a shady tree or lounge in a hammock with your favorite read. This also encourages your child to observe the natural world and gives them the chance to make connections with what they are reading.

How do you explain the environment to kids?

Books are a great tool to explain complex topics to children. Not only do they include vocabulary and language that is helpful, but many also have illustrations and photos that help even the youngest readers think and learn about new things.