Read any good books lately? Perhaps that’s a question best left for the children in your life to answer. The next time your sweet little ones place the back of their hands on their foreheads while moaning and whining about how there’s nothing to do – expressing how they could potentially even die of flat-out boredom if you don’t take action really really soon – perhaps it might be wise to make a visit to your local library. It is there in that magical world where learning and imagination collide that you will be able to procure one or more of the following eco-inspired titles.
Who knows… upon reading and digesting them, your kiddies could very well recognize that the world is their oyster and that real, beneficial and sustainable change lies within. Maybe they’ll experience a light bulb moment that will pave the way for a local effort or a grand-scale eco project, or maybe they’ll simply just spread the good green word among their peers to waste not, want not. Whatever direction they choose, the whole point is to get their juices flowing -- and these 6 eco-inspired texts will certainly do that. Yay for the printed word!
Author(s): Janet S. Wong
Age Range: 4 – 8 years of age
What’s It About? Using a humorous, dry tone wonderfully accented with whimsical watercolors by illustrator David Roberts, The Dumpster Diver focuses on the story of Steve the handyman who delights in outfitting his digs with rescued bits and pieces that people regularly purge from their homes. Accompanied by an eager and equally efficient dumpster diving team, an unexpected accident forces Steve’s eco-posse to instead go door-to-door for castaways so that they can build a wheel chair that will help facilitate his recovery. Little boys in particular will go crazy for the Inspector Gadget-like ideas and trash-to-treasure imagery pictured within.
Author(s): Barbara Brenner, editor.
Age Range: All ages
What’s It About? Just as appropriate for the budding eco-Shakespeare as for little ones who simply just appreciate the majesty of Mother Nature, this collection of 91 environmental-themed poems by the likes of Theodore Roethke, Shel Silverstein and Carl Sandburg helps to paint a cerebral picture of the treasures available right outside our window. Complementary watercolor illustrations by S.D. Schindler bring the magic to life, offering children a springboard for their own real-life environmental stewardship.
Author(s): Jonah Winter
Age Range: 4 to 8 years of age
What’s It About? Based on the true story about the town of Islip, New York which -- when deluged with 3,168 tons of garbage and no feasible place to put it -- heaped its junk on a barge destined for someone else’s backyard. Six months later, the garbage-filled tugboat ends up back right where it started (since everyone along the Atlantic coast refused its not-at-all-special delivery), with its contents ultimately burned in a Brooklyn facility. Winter manages to inject a welcome comical twist to this otherwise all-too-familiar reflection on people who adopt an out of sight, out of mind philosophy.
Green Street Cred: Chris Sickels’ irresistible illustrations offer further delight since they’re created with recycled objects that illicit imagination as well as trash-to-treasure creativity. (See exactly how his fantastic recycled sculptures were created here.)
Author(s): Laurie David and Cambria Gordon
Age Range: 8 years and older
What’s It About? Offering an easy-to-digest understanding of how global warming impacts humans, wildlife and all natural systems, this fact-packed text is well-balanced with a writing style that inspires action rather than daunting or scaring the bejeezus out of its younger audience.
Green Street Cred: The book is made with 100% FSC-certified post consumer paper pulp printed with soy based inks. Furthermore, David is a well-known environmental activist and best-selling author with a comprehensive list of eco-credits to her name, including producer of two notable nature documentaries (An Inconvenient Truth and Too Hot Not To Handle).
Author(s): Lara Bergen
Age Range: 4 – 6 years of age
What’s It About? Serving up the three Rs – recycling, reusing and reducing – in a simple yet visually effective style, this fun, exploratory book appeals to small hands with its use of flaps that, when lifted, reveal trash-to-treasure items that can be easily made with the assistance of a little creative ingenuity. Readers are led along their eco-journey thanks to the help of a pigtailed heroine outfitted in superhero gear (appropriately made with recycled items).
Green Street Cred: Printed with vegetable ink on 100% recycled, cardboard-like paper board.
Author(s): Janet Wilson
Age Range: 7 to 12 years of age
What’s It About? How old do you really have to be to make a difference on behalf of Mother Nature? The ten profiles of real-life global eco-activists featured in this book prove that age is merely just a number. From Sam Levin’s student-run organic garden appropriately entitled Project Sprout (which continues supplying his school cafeteria and local food bank with fresh vegetables) to 14-year-old William Kamkwamba’s DIY windmill using nothing more than the assistance of a book (which resulted in his small African village enjoying electricity for the first time), Our Earth shows the younger generation that they can most certainly pave the way to a greener future.
Image via San Jose Library
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