Little Library Bookshelf: A Kids’ Guide to Going Green

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Explaining “going green” or other bigger ecological concerns to small children can sometimes be difficult and seem futile at best. A few years ago at the Libertyville Green Living fair we picked up a flyer from the Cook Memorial Public Library District. We found it again in some recent spring cleaning and thought we would share it with you.

A Kids Guide to Going Green – a reading list


DVD for Kids about the Earth:

Jim Henson’s The Song of the Cloud Forest and Other Earth Stories features a blend of music, puppetry and animation resulting in a vibrant landscape of color that echoes the natural beauty found in the real world’s rain forests. Starring a brightly colored cast of puppet animals, the show celebrates the beauty of the rain forests while educating the audience about the real dangers threatening the survival of both the rain forests and their inhabitants.





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Sid the Science Kid: Going, Going, Green! Sid the Science Kid is discovering that it takes care and conservation to protect the environment he lives in. He takes a special trip to The Science Center to discover cool facts about water, and when his toy robot breaks, he investigates how to recycle and reuse! When Sid and his dad clear out space in the yard for a basketball court, they observe a curious home for many little creatures! Sid and his friends embark on a journey to find out all about animals and their habitats. Through science-tastic experiments and songs, Sid is Going, Going, Green!




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PBS American Experience Earth Days DVD American experience earth days DVD. Earth days traces the origins of the modern environmental movement through the eyes of nine Americans who propelled the movement from its beginnings in the 1950s to its moment of triumph in 1970 with the original earth day and to its status as a major political force in America. Closed captioned. Run time: 120 minutes.





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The Curious Garden…and more stories about nature

This DVD features several stories (all good book options as well!):

  • The Curious Garden: Follow Liam on his quest for a greener world as he discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it.
  • The Lion and the Mouse: In this wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learns that no act of kindness is ever wasted.
  • Fletcher and the Falling Leaves: It is autumn and Fletcher is worried because his favorite tree is losing its leaves. He wants to help…until winter arrives and his tree is transformed.
  • Planting a Rainbow: A mother and child plant a rainbow of colors in their flower garden and bring to life the cyclical excitement of planning, planting, and picking flowers in a garden.

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Nonfiction Books about the Environment for Kids

The Air Out There: How Clean Is Clean? by Matthew Higgins

“This book helps young readers understand what happens every time living things take a breath–physically, chemically and culturally. It examines the science of air pollution, while discussing the hurdles presented by globalization, politics and basic human need. The book also separates fact from fiction when it comes to both manmade and natural pollution”–Provided by publisher.


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Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman

This book has won numerous awards for environmental education.  Plastic: it’s used to make everything from drink bottles and bags to toys and toothbrushes. But what happens when it ends up where it doesn’t belong like in the Pacific Ocean? How does it affect ocean life? Is it dangerous? And exactly how much is out there? A team of researchers went on a scientific expedition to find out. They explored the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where millions of pieces of plastic have collected. The plastic has drifted there from rivers, beaches, and ocean traffic all over the world. Most of it has broken down into tiny pieces the size of confetti.



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Make a Splash!: A Kid’s Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands by Cathyrn Kaye

This elementary-level counterpart to the award-winning Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands teaches elementary kids about the earth’s water crisis and empowers them to do something about it. Filled with facts about our waters, their inhabitants, and the threats they face, Make a Splash! presents inspiring stories of kids in action and practical tips for making a difference. In fun and age-appropriate language, kids are introduced to the ideas behind service



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How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming by Lynne Cherry

When the weather changes daily, how do we really know that Earth’s climate is changing? Here is the science behind the headlines – evidence from flowers, butterflies, birds, frogs, trees, glaciers and much more, gathered by scientists from all over the world, sometimes with assistance from young “citizen-scientists.” And here is what young people, and their families and teachers, can do to learn about climate change and take action. Climate change is a critical and timely topic of deep concern, here told in an age-appropriate manner, with clarity and hope. Kids can make a difference.


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Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang

Acclaimed Caldecott Artist Molly Bang teams up with award-winning M.I.T. professor Penny Chisholm to present the fascinating, timely story of fossil fuels.

What are fossil fuels, and how did they come to exist? This engaging, stunning book explains how coal, oil, and gas are really “buried sunlight,” trapped beneath the surface of our planet for millions and millions of years.

Now, in a very short time, we are digging them up and burning them, changing the carbon balance of our planet’s air and water. What does this mean, and what should we do about it?

Using simple language and breathtaking paintings, Bang and Chisholm present a clear, concise explanation of the fossil-fuel energy cycle that began with the sun and now runs most of our transportation and energy use in our world.

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What Happens to Our Trash? by DJ Ward

People in the United States make more trash per person every day than people in any other country.

What do we throw away, and where does it go?

How can we reduce, reuse, and recycle?


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What If There Were No Bees? by Suzanne Slade

Local author Susan Slade explains food chain reactions in a way children will understand. Grassland ecosystems can be found on nearly every continent. Countless animals and plants live in them. So what difference could the loss of one animal species make? Follow the chain reaction, and discover how important honey bees are.




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Earth-Friendly Buildings Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal of Corry Lapont by Etta Kaner

Introducing Corry Lapont: 12-year-old and aspiring green engineer. This dynamic title takes the form of Corry’s scrapbook. It’s a dazzling collection of postcards, brochures and other memorabilia documenting Corry’s research into green design. Kid-friendly language explains the engineering behind some of the planet’s most cutting edge towers, bridges, tunnels, domes, dams, dikes, locks and levees. These structures include the Vizcaya Bridge in Spain, where gondolas transport cars over the Nervion River, and the Channel tunnel, where trains speed between England and France in just 35 minutes. Readers will explore the environmental impact of structures, such as the pros and cons of dam construction and how rainwater can be used to cool buildings. Complex concepts are clarified with simple activities, as well as colorful drawings, fun facts and the occasional wisecrack from Corry’s kid brother, Riley.


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What in the World Is Green Food? by Oona Gaarder-Juntti

Describes the importance of organic, locally-grown foods in order to eat healthier and be environmentally conscious, and details how to obtain “green” foods, including buying directly from farms and planting vegetable gardens.




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Picture Books about Being Green

Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green by Eileen Spinelli When Miss Fox shows up at school riding her bicycle, Mouse asks, “Do you have a flat tire?” “No,” Miss Fox tells her students. “I am going green!” Soon everyone in the class is working to keep the earth healthy. Mouse takes shorter showers (and does her singing after!); Bunny brings a cloth bag to the supermarket; and Possum turns the lights off when he goes out. And Miss Fox’s simple act has ripples even beyond her own students…soon the whole school starts riding their bikes–including the principal.




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Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellingrton

When Gabby and Grandma get together, “Green Day” means “Fun Day.” From sewing their own cloth bags and buying vegetables at the Farmers’ Market to recycling their bottles, these two know how to have a good time while doing good things for the earth.

The illustrations in Monica Wellington’s popsicle-bright palette-enhanced with myriad shades of green-result in a perfectly “green” addition to her books for the very young.


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Just a Dream by Chris van Allsburg

Young Walter litters and refuses to sort trash for recycling, until he dreams of an overcrowded and polluted future which terrifies him into taking care of the earth.





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Stuff!: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Steven Kroll

Pinch is a pack rat. He collects lots of stuff. When his friends decide to hold a tag sale, Pinch is horrified. The last thing he wants to do is recycle his things. But then he realizes that he can make money at a tag sale—enough money to buy more stuff!

How Pinch changes and finds a way to beautify his town will reinforce the benefits of practicing the three R’s— reduce, reuse, and recycle!



Share your favorite books about going green in the comments!

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About Melissa Haak 626 Articles
Melissa is mom to 4. She used to dream of traveling the world, now she dreams of a clean kitchen. She can be found on most social media sites as @PBinmyHair because with this much hair and four kids, you're bound to find something in it.

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