11 Books and Children's Books to Read for Earth Day


Apr. 22 2021, Updated 2:59 p.m. ET

International Environmentalist Books
Source: Composite: Lawrence Kayku, Flatiron Books, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, Penguin Group

Books, even children’s books, can offer a rare insight into the importance of the environment, and this is especially important around Earth Day. The holiday was created in the 1970s as a way of celebrating the planet and educating people about the problems that it was facing. We can think of few methods more suited to this purpose than books, so we rounded up 11 books that are perfect Earth Day reads.

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Inspiring books for children to read this Earth Day:

earth day books about environmentalists
Source: Getty Images

We have split the list of 11 books into two different categories: those for children, and those for adults. That way, adults can become more educated about the seriousness of our current environmental issues, while children can become inspired to do good right from the get-go. 

'Don't Let Them Disappear' by Chelsea Clinton

Source: Philomel Book

Written by Chelsea Clinton — yes, that Chelsea Clinton — Don’t Let Them Disappear is a book about one of the former First Daughter’s longtime passions: endangered animals. Brilliantly illustrated by Maria Gianna, the book is a colorful but cautionary look at 12 unique endangered species that might just go extinct without our help. 

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'Greta and the Giants' by Zoe Tucker

great and giants
Source: Frances Lincoln Children's Books

Inspired by climate activist Greta Thunberg, Greta and the Giants is a story about a young girl who wants to save the forest from the callous giants who have chopped nearly all of it down. It’s an important allegory about how, with courage and cleverness, one small person can make big changes in the world. 

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'Seeds of Change' by Jen Cullerton Johnson

Source: Lee & Low Books

Seeds of Change is the true story about a hardworking Kenyan girl named Wangari Maathai, whose opportunity to go to school allowed her mind to “sprout like a seed.” Maathai went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. It’s an empowering story about the value of education and the importance of women’s rights.

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'The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps' by Jeannette Winter

Source: Schwartz & Wade

Based on the life and accomplishments of famous primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps follows Jane from her London childhood to her years living with chimpanzees in the forests of Tanzania. The book is full of wonderful illustrations and possesses a clear-cut message about curiosity, conservation, and accomplishment. 

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'Girls Who Looked Under Rocks' by Jeannine Atkins

Source: Dawn Pubns

The pre-teen book Girls Who Looked Under Rocks portrays the youth and careers of six famously curious women throughout history: Anna Comstock, Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, Miriam Rothschild, Maria Merian, and Frances Hamerstrom. This is a great book for any young woman because it teaches you to lean into your passions, value your curiosity, and push hard against any obstacles that might stand in the way of your dreams.

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Adults can check out these books about environmentalism.

Here are five books about environmentalism for adults, which we highly recommend checking out this Earth Day.

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'Green Living' by Green Matters

green living
Source: Rock Point

In honor of Earth Day, we at Green Matters are excited to announce our book: Green Living: A Step-By-Step Guide to a Healthy and Happy Sustainable Lifestyle. The book is an expansion of this website, and will guide you to an eco-friendly lifestyle through approachable, easy-to-implement strategies.

Green Living will hit bookstores on Sept. 14, 2021, and is now available for preorder!

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'The Uninhabitable Earth' by David Wallace-Wells

davidwallacewells theuninhabitableearth
Source: Tim Duggan Books

Written by columnist and editor David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth is an in-depth look at the climate crisis and a grim prognostication about our future. Rather than harp on this seemingly inevitable apocalypse, however, the author focuses on the solutions and opportunities that might prevent that future from happening. 

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'The Right to Be Cold' by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

The Right to Be Cold is a memoir written by Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier. The book focuses on her environmental activism as well as her desire to safeguard her people's way of life. It’s a rare look into the issues currently facing marginalized communities like the Inuit, but it is also an unabashed admonishment against pollution, overfishing, and global warming. 

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'No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference' by Greta Thunberg

gretathunberg book
Source: Penguin Group

It’s safe to say that Greta Thunberg is the leading force behind climate activism in the modern age. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference is a collection of Greta's own historic speeches, given at the mass protests, government buildings, and international conferences over the past years. It includes all of Greta's inspiring messages, and it might be just the motivation that young readers need to get out there and do something. 

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'The Ends of the World' by Peter Brannen

Source: HarperCollins Publishers

Another book about the so-called apocalypse, The Ends of the World is more about the planet’s five previous extinctions than the one that’s waiting for us just around the bend. Science journalist Peter Brannen finds humor in annihilation as he investigates the fossil record for evidence of “what went wrong” in the previous apocalypses, all the while delivering advice on how to avoid another catastrophe of our own making. 

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'Migrations' by Charlotte McConaghy

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy is something of a departure from the nonfiction books presented on this list. It’s the extraordinary fictional story of a young woman named Franny Stone who ends up chasing the world’s last flock of Arctic terns to the very ends of the Earth. On the way, she finds adventure, solace, and if she’s lucky, redemption from personal demons that seem to have her always on the move. 

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This article is part of Green Matters’ 2021 Earth Day programming, #GreenMattersGreenlight: A week-long campaign spotlighting ways you can protect the planet for Earth Day and beyond. We’re celebrating planet Earth giving us the greenlight to take climate action.

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