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Nonfiction books for young and middle readers highlight the overarching impact that climate change has on different ecosystems and the steps humans can take to bring change to their world.
The planet is warming more rapidly than scientists previously thought, with consequences being suffered all over the globe. These books highlight some of the ecosystems that hang in the balance, the plants and animals who depend on them for life, and ways humans affect and are affected by life on a changing planet.
Animal Homes. By Mary Holland. 2020. 32p. Arbordale, o.p. Gr. 1–3. 591.
Full-page photos show the homes of select bugs, birds, and mammals, highlighting the importance and fragility of an animal’s habitat.
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng. By Sophia Gholz. Illus. by Kayla Harren. 2019. 32p. Sleeping Bear (9781534110243). K–Gr. 3. 333.
Seeing the impact of erosion from flood waters in India’s Brahmaputra River region inspired Jadav Payeng to create positive change in his local environment.
Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet. By Elizabeth Rusch. Illus. by Teresa Martínez. 2019. 40p. Charlesbridge (9781580895811). Gr. 1–3. 363.738.
Mexican American Mario Molina is a modern-day hero who discovered that CFCs, used in millions of refrigerators and spray cans, were tearing a hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer. His story shows that we can make progress in the fight against global warming.
Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. By Sandra Neil Wallace. Illus. by Rebecca Gibbon. 2020. 56p. Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman (9781534431546). K–Gr. 3. 333.72092.
This illustrated biography of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shows how her lifelong environmental activism helped save the diverse animal and plant species living in the Florida Everglades.
Nesting. By Henry Cole. Illus. by the author. 2020. 40p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen (9780062885920). PreS–Gr. 1.
Text and black-and-white illustrations, highlighted only with robin’s egg blue, depict one year in a robin family’s life as parents support the hatchlings’ survival.
Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive. By Etta Kaner. Illus. by Ashley Barron. 2020. 48p. Owlkids (9781771473699). Gr. 1–3. 580.
This book visually portrays 12 plants and the unusual adaptations they have developed to survive the challenges of life.
You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks. By Evan Turk. Illus. by the author. 2019. 56p. Atheneum (9781534432826). PreS–Gr. 3. 917.3.
In a visual tribute to 25 national parks, Turk personalizes these landscapes, highlighting the beauty, grandeur, and importance of our “home.”
The Big One: The Cascadia Earthquakes and the Science of Saving Lives. By Elizabeth Rusch. 2020. 80p. Clarion (9780544889040). Gr. 5–8. 551.2209795.
Follow scientists through the Pacific Northwest as they look for geologic evidence of past and potential future earthquakes.
Child of St. Kilda. By Beth Waters. Illus. by the author. 2019. 64p. Child’s Play (9781786281883). Gr. 3–7. 941.14.
St. Kilda, an island in a remote archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, experiences such volatile weather that supplies can only be delivered for half the year. This is the story of the last inhabitants, who finally evacuated in 1930 when the island was deemed uninhabitable.
Fighting for the Forest: How FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps Helped Save America. By P. O’Connell Pearson. 2019. 208p. Simon & Schuster (9781534429321). Gr. 5–8. 973.917.
This history of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) combines personal stories with information about how the CCC constructed state and national parks, restored almost 120 million acres of land, and planted some 3 billion trees.
Journey under the Arctic. By Fabien Cousteau and James O. Fraioli. Art by Joe St. Pierre. 2020. 112p. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry (9781534420915). Gr. 4–6. 741.5.
This graphic-novel adventure takes readers underneath the world’s coldest ocean to discover how Earth’s changing climate affects the inhabitants of the ocean.
North Pole/South Pole: Pole to Pole: A Flip Book. By Michael Bright. Illus. by Nic Jones. 2020. 64p. Quarto/words & pictures (9780711254749). Gr. 3–5. 559.
This fact-filled flip book compares and contrasts the natural and human environments at both poles.
Old Enough to Save the Planet. By Loll Kirby. Illus. by Adelina Lirius. 2021. 32p. Abrams/Magic Cat (9781419749148). Gr. 2–4. 550.
These stories of 12 young climate activists who are raising awareness in their communities will inspire other kids to help to save the planet from the effects of global warming.
Pika Country: Climate Change at the Top of the World. By Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Marlo Garnsworthy. Illus. by Dan Hartman. 2020. 32p. Web of Life (9781970039023). Gr. 3–5. 550.
The pika, a small mammal, can’t live in temperatures higher than 77°F. In this book, photos, diagrams, and words work together to show how the pika is being threatened by climate change.
Return from Extinction: The Triumph of the Elephant Seal. By Linda L. Richards. 2020. 96p. Orca (9781459821361). Gr. 4–7. 599.79.
This fact-filled ecological success story recounts how elephant seals were once hunted to extinction but are now a thriving species in the western Pacific Ocean.
Sea Otters: A Survival Story. By Isabelle Groc. Illus. by the author. 2020. 128p. Orca (9781459817371). Gr. 4–8. 599.769.
Discover how the sea otter impacts the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean and the difficulties that prey, humans, and changing ecosystems have imposed on otters throughout the years.
Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot, and Provide Healthy Habitat for Creatures Close to Home. By Mary Kay Carson. 2020. 176p. Storey (9781635861068). Gr. 3–6. 591.
This field guide suggests activities to turn backyards into personal learning and wildlife-conservation preserves using everyday materials.
The Woolly Monkey Mysteries: The Quest to Save a Rain Forest Species. By Sandra Markle. 2019. 40p. Lerner/Millbrook (9781512458688). Gr. 3–6. 599.8.
Learn how scientists in the Manu Biosphere Reserve in Peru are discovering the crucial role of woolly monkeys in maintaining the rain forest.
Sonja Cole, a former school library media specialist, is the author of Booktalking around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9–14 (2010).
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