Want books with environmental themes for kids? Check out these children’s books about climate change, from read alouds to middle school.
I’ll be the first to admit that, until a few years ago, I would tune out headlines about climate change.
Not that I was in denial of the plight of polar bears and monarch butterflies, or that I didn’t believe that rising seas would engulf communities. I also did my part, from recycling to shopping at the farmers market.
But hearing dreadful news made me feel anxious about how life would be different within my lifetime if nothing changes, not to mention in my kids’ future.
Since then, I’ve been feeling more hopeful, despite dire news of what will happen if we continue with the same lifestyles we’ve grown used to. That, despite big decision makers in corporate and political lobbies, I still have a voice in the matter.
And more importantly, I’m embracing new perspectives of what it means to care for our planet and its natural resources.
It’s holding onto high-value, quality items we can reuse over and over, and not buying so much stuff, especially single-use or cheap items. It’s realizing that there’s no such thing as “away,” even though our garbage is out of sight.
I don’t like that big companies pass the responsibility onto their customers, or that greenhouse gases and endangered species have become a political issue or hot topic. But as regular citizens, we can adopt lifestyle changes to combat global warming and collectively speak up with the choices we make.
Children’s books about climate change
The first step in making meaningful change is to talk about it with others. And what better way to start that conversation than by reading children’s books about climate change with your child? These amazing authors and illustrators share these important topics to our kids.
Because for this younger generation, thinking about the effects of climate change can lead to anxiety, especially when they feel like their futures are doomed.
The lessons in these books help them see that there is still plenty we can do during this critical decade, even if they may not be able to vote at the ballot yet. That the passion of everyday heroes like Greta Thunberg can make a global difference, and that they can be an activist in their own way.
These eye-opening books also explain why climate change issues are happening in the first place, and highlight why we should value nature as we know it.
Take a look at these children’s books about climate change, divided by age group. Then, read on for more tips on how to address this important issue as a family:
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission—at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase.
For lower elementary kids
For upper elementary and middle school kids
How to make a difference with climate change
Everyone has their own comfort level with what they’re willing to do to live in harmony with nature. Some can willingly go vegan for life, while others will only give up meat for one day a week. Yet that same vegan may not be so willing to part with her car, while our meat-eater can easily take public transportation.
To each their own, so long as we’re all aware of the part we play. Here are several tips you can try that will make meaningful changes:
Change your purchasing habits
- Choose reusable over disposable. Even eco-friendly disposable diapers are still secondary to the cloth ones you buy once and use over and over again.
- Reduce and reuse plastic purchases. Choose plastic-free alternatives, like toys made of mostly natural materials. If you can’t, reuse that plastic at least one more time to give it a life beyond being used once. For instance, use a finished bag of chips as a “mini trash can” to reduce the space in your kitchen trash can.
- Buy secondhand. I’ve since been shopping for clothes for myself and the kids at Thred Up, where you can shop online just like with any store (and even buy “new with tags” items). It’s not enough to donate items—we have to close the loop and buy secondhand as well.
- Buy with sustainability in mind. If you can’t buy secondhand, support businesses that are operating sustainably. For instance, buy local, shop for sustainable or handmade products online, or buy from companies that use recycled materials.
- Share with and give to neighbors. Find a Buy Nothing Facebook group in your neighborhood, which is a fantastic way to get items from your neighbors. This is community sharing and giving at its best. Simply make an ask for an item you’re looking for and pick it up at a neighbor’s house. Likewise, post items to give away to neighbors. Either way, you avoid the purchasing of raw materials for those that already exist.
Change how you eat
- Pack food in reusable containers. If you can, pack a lunch for both you and the kids instead of buying from a restaurant or even getting free cafeteria food. School lunches are riddled with disposable items and many get thrown out if they’re not eaten. Instead, get reusable containers, Thermoses, and water bottles to bring to work or school.
- Don’t waste food. The best way to cut down food waste is to plan your meals and eat leftovers. Of course, sometimes you need to throw out food, but by planning ahead, that should hopefully be rare.
- Compost kitchen scraps. To cut down on food waste even more, start a home compost. Rather than tossing banana peels in the landfill (where they emit methane as they “decompose”), you can turn them into high-nutrient soil.
- Grow your own food. Gardening is often started gradually, so even a window box of herbs is a great place to start. Through trial and error, you can eventually expand your garden. You might dedicate half your backyard to raised beds or grow vegetables in container pots on the patio.
- Bring reusable items to restaurants. Sadly, not all restaurants use reusable items like plates and utensils, even if you dine in. Just in case, bring a water bottle and reusable utensils if all they offer are disposable cups and utensils. Then, bring a reusable container for potential leftovers you’d like to take home, to cut down on take-home containers (and avoid food waste).
Change how you get around
- Walk or bicycle to nearby destinations. Challenge yourself to walk or bicycle to run errands or go to school or work if possible. Don’t think of it as an extra half hour you’ve “wasted,” but as a way to cut down on emissions and even get a workout.
- Batch errands together. Plan certain errands on the same run so you don’t have to make multiple trips to the same area. For instance, if you need to pick up office supplies, do it on the same day you plan to drop off library books if both places are on the way.
Make your voice heard
- Write to businesses. Thank them for things like using compostable take-home containers. For others, make suggestions on how they can do better, like using reusable dishes instead of throwaway plastic ones. This is all part of “talking about it” with others—the more people are aware, the more we can make actual change.
Read these next:
- Top Weather Books for Kids
- Children’s Books for Earth Day
- 7 Unique Ways to Care for the Environment as a Family
- 5 Things Resilient Kids Do Differently
- Children’s Books about Making the World a Better Place
Free printables: Want even more book ideas? Join my newsletter and grab the Read Aloud Book List! You’ll get hundreds of favorite selections to read aloud with your kids. Get it below—at no cost to you: