Five Great Environmental Picture Books

Nicola Edwards: Like the Ocean We Rise, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins

Over the past few years children have become more and more involved in the environmental movement. With activists like Greta Thunberg leading the way, children all over the world are taking action and using their voices to protect the environment and their futures. 

There is now an exciting trend for environmentalism in children's books. We’ve pulled together some of our favourite eco-awareness books which celebrate the natural world and will get children excited about taking care of the environment.

Like the Ocean We Rise by Nicola Edwards 

Nicola Edwards: Like the Ocean We Rise, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins
Like the Ocean We Rise by Nicola Edwards,
illustrated by Sarah Wilkins. 

 
Like The Ocean We Rise is a brightly coloured peek-through book and a call to arms which puts the well-being of our planet front and centre. With a nod to Greta Thunberg, this book teaches children about environmental issues while also showing them that no one is too young to make a difference. 

Nicola Edwards: Like the Ocean We Rise, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins
Sarah Wilkins' illustrations are bright and engaging. 

 
The visuals of the book reflect the growing strength of the environmental movement. Sarah Wilkin’s illustrations grow more colourful and the peek through raindrops get larger as more people join the movement. The illustrations also highlight the global nature of environmentalism as people from all over the world are shown joining the fight to protect the planet. 

When read aloud, Nicola Edwards' rhythmic rhymes sound like a chant you might hear at a march, making this an exciting and engaging read for children. Like The Ocean We Rise deals with environmentalism in an accessible and hopeful way that will inspire children to take care of the planet.

Over and Under the Rainforest by Kate Messner 

Kate Messner: Over and Under the Rainforest, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Over and Under the Rainforest  by Kate Messner,
illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.
 
In Over and Under the Rainforest, Kate Messner takes readers on an adventure through the mysterious rainforests of Central America. Christopher Silas Neal's illustrations, in a range of muted teals and violets, capture the vastness of this incredible landscape. One moment the reader is gazing up at the canopy high above them, the next they're on a rope bridge looking down at long winding rivers.

Kate Messner: Over and Under the Rainforest, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

There are all kinds of wonders hidden in the rainforest.

There is something new to discover on every page of this book. At the end, children will find fun facts about all the creatures they’ve been reading about. This combination of fiction and fact make Over and Under the Rainforest an excellent introduction to one of the most complex and diverse ecosystems on our planet.

 

I Am The Storm by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple: I Am the Storm, illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

I Am The Storm by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple,
illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell.

As a result of climate change, children all over the world are facing strange and often frightening weather. I Am The Storm explores four families’ experiences of four different kinds of extreme weather: a tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire and a hurricane. 

Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple: I Am the Storm, illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell
This family passes the time with books and card games.


The rich and colourful illustrations by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell express the immense power of these extreme weather conditions. At the same time the brightness of these images creates a sense of hope and positivity. Each family finds ways to happily and safely wait out the storms. Afterwards they work with their communities to restore any damage done.

Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple: I Am the Storm, illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell
After the blizzard is over, it's time to shovel the front steps!

 
At the end of the book there is a lot of helpful information for children to learn more about extreme weather conditions. With its informative, comforting tone, I Am The Storm acknowledges children’s fears but also reassures them. This book shows that that with the right preparation we can all stay safe and weather any storm.

We Will Live in This Forest Again by Gianna Marino 

 
When a tiny spark starts a fire that spreads through the whole forest, all the animals living there have to flee for safety. The deer who narrates We Will Live in this Forest Again believes she has lost her home forever.  

Gianna Marino: We will Live in This Forest Again
The red colour palette creates a sense of danger.

In her emotive watercolour illustrations author-illustrator Giana Marino uses red and orange hues to express the feelings of fear and panic the animals feel when the fire starts. Later, when the fires die down, the soft blue and green tones create a sense of hope and peace as the animals gradually return to the forest.

Gianna Marino: We will Live in This Forest Again
The forest slowly comes back to life.

We Will Live in this Forest Again was inspired by Marino’s own experiences of the Sonoma wildfires in 2017, when she nearly lost her home. This book is a great way to start discussions with children about the effects of forest fires but it will also give them a sense of hope by showing them the resilience of nature.

The Keeper of Wild Words Brooke Smith

Brooke Smith: The Keeper of Wild Words, illustrated by Madelin Kloepper 

The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith,
illustrated by Madelin Kloepper.

When Brooke Smith discovered the Oxford Junior Dictionary had decided to remove over 100 natural words from its pages, she was heartbroken. But, being a talented writer, she decided she would rescue these words and keep them safe in this wonderful book

The Keeper of Wild Words explores the ways we can protect nature by preserving the wild words that describe it. If we don’t use wild words like starling, poppy or babbling brook, we’ll forget them and then we’ll forget the very important things they signify.

Mimi and Brook go searching for wild words together.

Illustrated by Madelin Kloepper in soft earth tones and pops of bright colour, this book celebrates the beauty and importance of the natural world and will inspire young children to get out into nature. What’s more, there’s a special envelope at the end of the book where they can write down all the wild words they’ve collected on their own. 

Brooke Smith: The Keeper of Wild Words, illustrated by Madelin Kloepper
What are some of your favourite wild words?

Getting children interested in the environment is important for so many reasons. Books like these are a great way to start discussions about climate change, conservation and how we can all make a difference.

Check out our whole range of eco awareness books here

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