11 Middle Grade Books for Environmentally Conscious Kids
by Dena McMurdie
As a parent, one of my goals is to raise environmentally conscious kids. I want my children to grow up with an understanding that their choices have consequences for the environment, animals, and even other people.
One of the ways I plan to do this is by reading books to my kids with an environmental element. Whether it’s a heartfelt story about animal rights or a cautionary tale about the dangers of chemical waste, books can be effective teachers.
Here are some fantastic books that encourage kids to be environmentally responsible.
Using humor and a coming of age adventure, Hoot is an engaging novel that tackles issues like land development, wildlife habitat, and local activism. If your child likes this book, make sure to check out Hiaasen's other middle grade novels like Flush, Chomp, and his upcoming release Squirm.
While spending their summer in a sleepy Florida town, three highly different girls — Ofelia, Aster, and Cat — come together for a shared mission: to put an end to an endangered-species-unfriendly tradition carried out by the Floras, a local Scouts group. A story of friendships and small revolutions, it’s both a delightful and instructive read. (Readers who dig the rebellious-girl vibe should check out Perez’s debut, The First Rule of Punk.)
When three kids get lost in the woods, they never expect to uncover the dangerous side effects of a scientist's experiments. Genetic engineering, a toxic environment, and middle school drama collide in this suspenseful novel from the author of Holes.
What Is Climate Change?
Climate change is a vast, confusing topic to digest — for adults and children alike. In this balanced and well-researched guide from Who HQ, climate change is approached from multiple angles — scientific, social, and political — to help young readers understand the complex conversations and some of the theories for how we got here.
The Last Wild
A secret island, talking animals, and a courageous boy make The Last Wild an enthralling environmental adventure. With humor, action, and heart, this epic middle grade novel encourages kids to be aware of the impact they have on the world around them.
Who Was Rachel Carson?
This slim little biography chronicles the life and times of an environmental pioneer, her books about nature, and her efforts to ban harmful pesticides. Informative and engaging, this is a wonderful choice for kids interested in protecting the environment.
The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth
Rachel Ignotofsky, bestselling author of Women in Science, combines her signature artwork with a thorough and accessible discovery of our wild and wondrous planet. Filled with fascinating, well-researched information, stunning visuals, and calls to action, kids will pore over this book again and again.
Who Was Jacques Cousteau?
Kids that love the ocean and marine life will find a hero in Jacques Cousteau. This illustrated biography is full of interesting facts about the man who captured his passion for undersea life on camera and shared it with the world.
Start Now! You Can Make a Difference
For kids ready to get involved, this is a great read. It addresses everything from endangered animals and climate change to bullying and healthy eating. Jam-packed with stories, facts, and advice, this book is for aspiring environmentalists and young activists eager to change the world.
Who Is Jane Goodall?
Jane Goodall is one of the greats — a leading primatologist who’s changed the way we think about multiple species while paving the way for other women in science to break new ground. This middle grade biography outlines her life in the wild, from her childhood in London to her first trip to Africa, and on to her work today.
The Line Tender
Lucy was seven when she lost her mother, a marine biologist who studied great white sharks. Now, 12 years old and living with her father in Cape Cod, Lucy’s working on a field guide with her friend Fred, documenting all the living things they find around town, when a great white shark returns to the cape. A story of grief and adaptation, The Line Tender is a poignant, unforgettable novel, opening with an apt line from Rachel Carson: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
This article was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2020.