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Booklist: Books to Celebrate Earth Day and the Environmentalist in All of Us

Friday, April 22, 2016 is National Earth Day, a day celebrated around the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Started in 1970 and gaining momentum in the 1990s, Earth Day is great time to reevaluate the impact that we are having on the planet. Environmentalism has often been a cause taken up with passion by teens and new adults, and one recent study shows that during the recession years, conservations efforts among teens rose.

Copy of Copy of New nonfiction science for teens

In honor of Earth Day, here is a list of nonfiction and fiction titles that explore a variety of aspects of environmental issues and conservation actions.


It's Getting Hot In Here          Plants vs. Meats         Story of Seeds

It’s Getting Hot in Here: The Past, Present, and Future of Climate Change by Bridget Heos

Exploring the science behind global warming, Heos examines the past, present, and future of climate change, the effects of political denial, and how we can work together, tackle, and lessen the impacts of a warming world.

Plants Vs. Meats: The Health, History, and Ethics of What We Eat by Meredith Sayles Hughes

Covering the historical, nutritional, and ethical impacts of what and how humans eat, Hughes brings in discussion around popular diets; the health and science of what we ingest; environmental impacts of food production; political, ethical, religious factors that lead to personal decisions; and what the future of food may look like.

The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World by Nancy F. Castaldo

Another look at the impact that food production has on the environment with the importance of plant biodiversity prolonged by seed preservation. It also explores the impact of monocultures and genetic engineering on food production.

Eyes Wide Open          Unstoppable- Harnessing Science to Change the World           Climate Changed- A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman

A guide to help teens navigate conflicting information around environmental issues that are represented in a variety of newsfeeds. Full of resources and ways that teens can make a difference. Also, see the updated resources and information from Fleischman on the book’s website.

Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye

Nye applies his scientific rigorous understanding of the world to climate change, showing opportunities in today’s environmental crisis as a new beginning to create a cleaner and healthier world.

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni

Investigative journalism  in a graphic novel format  Part diary, part documentary, this looks at our relationship with the planet and explains what global warming is all about.

Primates       moonbird phillip hoose nonfiction seal       World Without Fish- How Could We Let This Happen? by Mark Kurlansky

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani (Great Graphic Novels 2014)

Graphic novel memoir about three leading primatologists that have often risked their lives to study endangered primates in their diminishing habitats.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind With the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip M. Hoose (2013 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist)

By looking at the remarkable life of B95, a 20-year-old robin-sized shorebird, we see a species of rufa red knots in peril of extinction due to environmental issues.

World Without Fish: How Could We Let This Happen? by Mark Kurlansky (2012 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Nominations)

Could it be possible that the main fish we eat, tuna, salmon, cod, and swordfish, could become extinct within fifty years? Kurlansky shows the environmental state of our oceans and the dwindling supply of our oceanic food supply, and what we can do to help preserve our seas.

We Are the Weather Makers- The History of Climate Change by Sally M. Walker          Omnivore's Dilemma          The Green Teen- The Eco-friendly Teen's Guide to Saving the Planet by Jenn Savedge

We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change by Sally M. Walker (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

An adaptation by Sally Walker of Tim Flannery’s adult book Weather Makers. This book  looks at climate change and gives suggestions for how young people can  reduce the carbon emissions in their homes, schools, and communities.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat by Richie Chevat and Michael Pollan (2010 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award Nominations)

An adaptation for teens of Michael Pollan’s book for adults. With facts, photos, graphs, and visuals, this book encourages youth to consider the personal and global implications of their food choices.

The Green Teen: The Eco-friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet by Jenn Savedge

Filled with easy  tips for things that teens can do increase conservation efforts.

Greasy Rider- Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-country Search for a Greener Future by Greg Melville         American Earth- Environmental Writing Since Thoreau          an inconvenient truth

Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-country Search for a Greener Future by Greg Melville (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

A humorous road-trip from Vermont to California fueled by leftover vegetable oil collected from restaurant grease and dumpsters along the way. Many stops on the way look at institutions seeking alternative energy options for a greener future.

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

Many teens encounter Henry David Thoreau and his writing during their course of study in the high school years. This anthology is a collection that explores some of the finest environmental writing in the United States since Thoreau’s Walden days.

An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming by Albert Gore

A young reader’s companion to the documentary of the same name, Gore explores the causes and effects of global warming.

The Ghost With Trembling Wings- Science, Wishful Thinking, and the Search for Lost Species by Scott Weidensaul             Silent Spring by Rachel Carson             A Sand County Almanac- With Essays on Conservation by Aldo Leopold

The Ghost With Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking, and the Search for Lost Species by Scott Weidensaul (2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

A look at the approximately 30,000 species of animals and plants that go extinct every year, and those rare occurrences when a supposedly extinct species makes a surprise reappearance.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1999 Outstanding Books for the College Bound)

First published in 1962 this book   caused enough alarm and outrage that it led to the banning of the pesticide DDT. Still considered a quintessential book in the environmental cannon.

A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation by Aldo Leopold (2009 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners)

Another classic for nature lovers and conservationists, this collection of essays and photos has been hailed as some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau’s Walden.


Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar            Threatened             the story of owen

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Younger teens will appreciate this fictional and thrilling account of biotechnology gone awry, and what the frightening implications could be if ever an event was to occur.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer (2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

A tale of survival in the deep wilds of Gabon, living among a group of Chimpanzees threatened by hunting and deforestation.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston (2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2015 Morris Award Finalist)

An alternate world where dragons thrive on carbon emissions. In an alternate  world where dragons thrive on carbon emissions, and people are unable to give up their use of fossil fuels. Dragon populations are starting to boom requiring the dependency of dragon slayers.

skink audio          endangered eliot schrefer cover          shipbreaker

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Filled with ecological mysteries and online predators this is one wild ride through the Florida wilds.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer   (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 14-year-old Sophie’s life is upturned when her mother’s bonobo sanctuary is attacked and she has to rescue the apes and somehow survive in the jungle.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (2011 Printz Award, 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

A look into the potential future where we need to scavenge our oil from grounded oil tankers. Young Nailer spends his days dismantling toxic waste heaps, until he finds a girl on a shipwrecked tanker, and has to make the choice to strip the tanker or save the girl.

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things that Might Kill Me              empty             carbon diaries 2015 saci lloyd cover

Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

A modern Romeo and Juliet with the differing sides being over the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

When oil supplies are gone and global warming is leading to devastating storms, teens join together to lead others to a more environmentally-friendly society.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

In this eco-thriller, England is the first country to start carbon dioxide rationing in an attempt to combat global warming. Sixteen-year-old Laura documents the first year with  rationing as things spiral in and out of control.

Law of Ueki                     Boys, Bears, and A Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

The Law of Ueki by Tsubasa Fukuchi

Manga series full of supernatural beings in a tournament over who gets to be the next god of The Celestial World. Each being picks a junior high school student to fight for them. Ueki has the power for recycling trash, giving this an underlying conservationist message.

Boys, Bears, and A Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Jenna, an ardent environmentalist, is spending the summer in rural Canada. She finds that not everyone agrees with her beliefs  and her “Green Teen” initiative is not as well-received as she anticipated.

–Danielle Jones, currently reading The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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Danielle Jones

Danielle is a teen and youth librarian at Multnomah County Library - Hollywood in Portland, Oregon. Her interests include rabbits, reading, and redefining "work appropriate" clothing. Usually she has a song from Hamilton stuck in her head.


  1. Great list! It’s got something for everyone!

  2. Fred Stoss Fred Stoss

    The quality of this list is uncanny! I have been involved with things environmental since the first Earth Day (April 22, 1970), as a sophomore biology major. That exposure was prefaced by my first environmental class a semester earlier, “Man and and the Environment,” and followed by a graduate degree in zoology that was a focus on aquatic ecology and eco toxicology. An eight year research career prefaced my Syracuse University IST MLS degree, and I have been “Knee Deep in the Big Muddy” of reproductive and developmental toxicology, chemical hazard assessment, acid rain, community response to environmental issues and concerns, climate change, sustainability, from a data/information perspective for more than a third of a century. Kudos!!!

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