Get Inspired. Take Action. Be a part of the green revolution. For Earth Day 2023, we need to act boldly, innovate broadly, and implement equitably. Get started today with this book list to inspire planet-saving action at any age.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
Youth Picture Books LIN
Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all… When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource. Inspired by the many indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption.
Cast Away: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye
Youth Nonfiction J 811.54 N
With poems about food wrappers, lost mittens, plastic straws, refugee children, trashy talk, the environment, connection, community, responsibility to the planet, politics, immigration, time, junk mail, trash collectors, garbage trucks, all that we carry and all that we discard, this is a rich, engaging, moving, and sometimes humorous collection for readers ages twelve to adult. Includes ideas for writing, recycling, and reclaiming, and an index.
Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery
Youth Picture Books HIL
Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration.
The First Rule of Climate ClUb by Carrie Firestone
Youth Fiction FIRESTONE
When twelve-year-old Mary Kate joins a special science pilot program focused on climate change, she and her friends come up with big plans to bring lasting change to their community.
Rising Seas by Keltie Thomas
Youth Nonfiction J 363.73 T
Rising Seas: Flooding, Climate Change and Our New World gives youth an eye-popping view of what the Earth might look like under the rising and falling water levels of climate change. Photographs juxtapose the present-day with that same area’s projected future. The shocking images will help them understand the urgency for action. Key issues in today’s news will be better understood, such as the 2015 Paris Protocol in which the world agreed to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (ideally 1.5 degree).
Stand Up! Speak Up! by Andrew Joyner
Youth Picture Books JOY
After attending a climate march, a young activist is motivated to make an effort and do her part to help the planet… by organizing volunteers to work to make green changes in their community, from cleaning a lake, to planting trees, to making composting bins, to hosting a clothing swap and more!
Save the People! by Stacy McAnulty
Youth Nonfiction J 576.84 M
Scientists estimate that 99% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. Whoa. So, it’s not unreasonable to predict humans are doomed to become fossil records as well. But what could lead to our demise? Supervolcanos? Asteroids? The sun going dark? Climate change? All the above?! Humans—with our big brains, opposable thumbs, and speedy Wi-Fi—may be capable of avoiding most of these nightmares but we’re also capable of triggering world-ending events. Learning from past catastrophes may be the best way to avoid future disasters.
Imaginary Borders by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
Teen Nonfiction 304.28 M
In this personal, moving essay, environmental activist and hip-hop artist, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, uses his art and his activism to show that climate change is a human issue that can’t be ignored.
How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other by Naomi Klein
Teen Nonfiction 363.738 K
Full of empowering stories of young leaders all over the world, this information-packed book from award-winning journalist and one of the foremost voices for climate justice, Naomi Klein, offers young readers a comprehensive look at the state of the climate today and how we got here, while also providing the tools they need to join this fight to protect and reshape the planet they will inherit.
Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97 by Jamie Bastedo
Teen Nonfiction 363.72 B
Many young people are rudely awakening to the fact that unchecked climate change and other widespread environmental issues paint a gloomy picture of their future. This knowledge can lead to a sense of fear, helplessness or worse, apathy. This book aims to help stem those concerns by shining an inspiring and entertaining light on the lives of daring, dedicated individuals whose great passion, talents, and heart are helping to tip the environmental balance away from destruction and collapse towards hope, healing and personal empowerment.
Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought by Christy Mihaly
Teen Nonfiction 613.2 M
The United Nations supports a compelling solution to world hunger: eat insects! Explore the vast world of unexpected foods that may help solve the global hunger crisis. Weeds, wild plants, invasive and feral species, and bugs are all food for thought. Learn about the nutritional value of various plant and animal species; visit a cricket farm; try a recipe for dandelion pancakes; and discover more about climate change, sustainability, green agriculture, indigenous foods, farm-to-table restaurants, and how to be an eco-friendly producer, consumer, and chef.
The Story of More (Adapted for Young Adults) by Hope Jahren
Teen Nonfiction 363.738 J
Hope Jahren, acclaimed geochemist and geobiologist, details the science behind key inventions, clarifying how electricity, large-scale farming, and automobiles have both helped and harmed our world. Jahren explains the current and projected consequences of unchecked global warming, from superstorms to rising sea levels, resulting from the unprecedented amounts of greenhouse gases being released into our atmosphere. The links between human consumption habits and our endangered existence are very real, with consequences leading to a crossroads of survival and extinction.
One Earth: People of Color Protecting our Planet by Anuradha S. Rao
Teen Nonfiction 363.73 R
This nonfiction book for middle readers profiles twenty environmental activists of color from around the world. Their individual stories show that the intersection of environment and ethnicity is an asset, not an obstacle, to helping the planet. Illustrated with photos of each of the people profiled.
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Teen Nonfiction 363.73 R
Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?
Welcome to Carl Hiaasen’s Florida—where the creatures are wild and the people are wilder!
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Adult Fiction POWERS
The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Powers’ 12th novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
Farming While Black by Leah Penniman
Adult Nonfiction 630.68 P
Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. Throughout the chapters Penniman uplifts the wisdom of the African diasporic farmers and activists whose work informs the techniques described―from whole farm planning, soil fertility, seed selection, and agroecology, to using whole foods in culturally appropriate recipes, sharing stories of ancestors, and tools for healing from the trauma associated with slavery and economic exploitation on the land.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Adult Nonfiction 590.89 K
Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
Adult Fiction MCCONAGHY
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool―a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime―it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny’s dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
Adult Fiction MBUE
Told from the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold on to its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom.
A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington
Adult Nonfiction 304.2 W
From injuries caused by lead poisoning to the devastating effects of atmospheric pollution, infectious disease, and industrial waste, Americans of color are harmed by environmental hazards in staggeringly disproportionate numbers. This systemic onslaught of toxic exposure and institutional negligence causes irreparable physical harm to millions of people across the country-cutting lives tragically short and needlessly burdening our health care system. But these deadly environments create another insidious and often overlooked consequence: robbing communities of color, and America as a whole, of intellectual power.
Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science by Jessica Hernandez
Adult Nonfiction 304.2 H
Through case studies, historical overviews, and stories that center the voices and lived experiences of Indigenous Latin American women and land protectors, Hernandez makes the case that if we’re to recover the health of our planet–for everyone–we need to stop the eco-colonialism ravaging Indigenous lands and restore our relationship with Earth to one of harmony and respect.