Children's books that address environmental issues and lessons for the future

  • Books
  • Saturday, 05 Jun 2021

A video still from Tom and Bee Rivett-Carnac's 'What Happened When We All Stopped' as narrated by Jane Goodall. Photo: Handout

As climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts and heat waves continue to make headlines all over the world, the call to action is more urgent than ever.

Everyone can play a part, in small and big ways.

With children, one simple yet powerful approach to engage them in conversation about caring for the planet is through books.

With this year’s World Environment Day theme being "Ecosystem Restoration", we have rounded up a few children’s books that offer meaningful messages about balanced ecosystems, finding solutions and making the world a better place.

'Kate, Who Tamed The Wind' by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Lee White

There is a man who lives on the tippy-top of a very steep hill, whose life is turned upside down every time the wild wind blows. It sounds like an impossible task, but little Kate comes up with an environmentally-sound way for her neighbour to live with the howling wind - by planting trees all around his house. Armed with a wheelbarrow of seedlings, she pushes it up the steep path to the top of the hill and together, they find a way to make a difference.

'Winston Of Churchill: One Bear’s Battle Against Global Warming' by Jean Davies Okimoto, illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell

Every winter, the polar bears gather on the frozen waters of Hudson Bay to frolic and hunt. But this year, Winston the bear notices that their icy home is melting and shrinking. He embarks on a mission to save their home, rallying the other polar bears to convince the humans that everyone must do their part in the fight against global warming.

Bee And Me by Alison Jay

A bee flies into a home and the little girl who lives there takes care of it. They become fast friends and she learns about the bee and its friends and family. We have heard so much about the plight of the bees and how their population is in decline. This picture book shows young readers the importance of bees in our ecosystem and what action can be taken to aid in conservation.

Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler

Miss Maple takes in orphaned seeds who have not found a home for themselves. She teaches them what it means to be a seed, brings them on field trips where they can explore places to grow, and tucks them into bed each night. “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small, ” she tells them. She lets them go when Spring arrives, and they find their place in the world to set down roots and stretch high into the blue sky.

What Happened When We All Stopped by Tom Rivett-Carnac, illustrated by Bee Rivett-Carnac

When lockdowns happened all around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the animals came out to play. The rivers ran clear, the birds started singing, the trees could breathe again. This book invites us to ponder on living in harmony with nature, and the choices we can make for our environmental future. It is a collaboration between Tom, who wrote this poem, and his sister, Bee, whose watercolour illustrations bring this story to life. Jane Goodall narrates in this animation.

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