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Recycling And Green Living: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about recycling and green living?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to recycling and green living. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about recycling and green living.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about recycling and green living, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Dumpster Diver to popular sellers like The Night Gardener to some of our favorite hidden gems like Ada’s Violin.

We hope this list of kids books about recycling and green living can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Ada's Violin
Written by Susan Hood & illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A town built on a landfill. A community in need of hope. A girl with a dream. A man with a vision. An ingenious idea.

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What Grew in Larry's Garden
Written by Laura Alary & illustrated by Kass Reich
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world. In his tiny backyard next door to hers, Larry grows the most extraordinary vegetables. Grace loves helping him - watering and weeding, planting and pruning, hoeing and harvesting. And whenever there’s a problem - like bugs burrowing into the carrots or slugs chewing the lettuce - Grace and Larry solve it together. Grace soon learns that Larry has big plans for the vegetables in his special garden. And when that garden faces its biggest problem yet, Grace follows Larry’s example to find the perfect solution.

Inspired by a real person, author Laura Alary has written a heartwarming story about how amazing things can grow when you tend your garden with kindness. In this case, Larry, a teacher, is helping to grow community. He has his students grow tomato plants that they then give away to their neighbors with personal notes. It offers a powerful lesson on the influence of generosity, while encouraging young children to become community activists in their own neighborhoods. This uplifting story fosters an appreciation for neighborhood and community at a time when that sentiment seems to be eroding. The book also contains an environmental message about harvesting your own vegetables and, with Kass Reich’s colorful illustrations, works beautifully for a life science exploration of growth and changes in plants. There are character education connections to caring, cooperation, empathy, kindness, perseverance and teamwork.

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The Night Gardener
Written & illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Everyone on Grimloch Lane enjoys the trees and shrubs clipped into animal masterpieces after dark by the Night Gardener, but William, a lonely boy, spots the artist, follows him, and helps with his special work.

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Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt
Written by Kate Messner & illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In this exuberant and lyrical follow-up to the award-winning Over and Under the Snow, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt. Explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year! Up in the garden, the world is full of green—leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world—earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow—populated by all the animals that make a garden their home.

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Heal the Earth
Written by Julian Lennon and Bart Davis & illustrated by Smiljana Coh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Take a journey to help the Earth in the second book of the New York Times bestselling trilogy by Julian Lennon! Jump aboard the White Feather Flier, a magical plane that can go wherever you want. This time, Lennon’s interactive book immerses children in a fun and unique journey where they can: Bring medicine to people in need! Dive below the ocean to bleached coral reefs! Visit the city to cultivate green spaces! Help the rain forest return and give its animals a home! Explore the planet, meet new people, and help make the world a better place! The Flier’s mission is to transport readers around the world, to engage them in helping to save the environment, and to teach one and all to love our planet. Just press a button printed on the page, and point the plane up in the air to fly, or down to land it! An inspiring, lyrical story, rooted in Lennon’s life and work, Heal the Earth is filled with beautiful illustrations that bring the faraway world closer to young children. The book includes words to a new, special poem written by Julian Lennon, specifically for Heal the Earth. A portion of the proceeds from book sales will go to support the environmental and humanitarian efforts of the White Feather Foundation, the global environmental and humanitarian organization that Lennon founded to promote education, health, conservation, and the protection of indigenous culture.

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  • Don't Throw That Away! - You can keep that trash and reuse it in all kinds of wonderful ways! Do you see that old jar? Don’t throw that away! You can turn it into…a new vase! Follow an eco-conscious super hero as he teaches kids how to recycle and reuse common household items! The six large flaps throughout show that oridinary trash is really a treasure. From turning old clothes into fun costumes or an old box into a brand new car, kids will learn that saving the environment is super cool!

  • Why Should I Recycle? - Uses color illustrations and simple text to explore the importance and benefits of recycling bottles, cans, plastic, clothes, and paper. Original.

  • The Girl Who Spoke to the Moon: A Story about Friendship and Loving Our Earth - A sweet story that will inspire children to protect the Earth and encourage others to do the same. When Sofia dreams of visiting the Moon one night, she discovers people are hurting the Earth! With the Moon as her guide, Sofia learns how we can work together to make Earth feel better. With rhyming text and beautiful illustrations, this sweet, environmentally friendly story is a gentle lesson and clear reminder of the importance of caring for our planet. Previously published as Sofia’s Dream, this updated edition includes bonus back matter about pollution and the simple steps we can take to protect the Earth!

  • The Dumpster Diver - Once a month–every week in the summer–Steve the electrician dons special gear and, with the help of youngsters who live in his building, dives into a dumpster seeking useful objects that they can transform into imaginative new ones.

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What a Waste
Written & illustrated by Jess French
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Everything you need to know about what we’re doing to our environment, good and bad, from pollution and litter to renewable energy and plastic recycling. This environmental book will teach young ecologists about how our actions affect planet Earth. Discover shocking facts about the waste we produce and where it goes. Did you know that every single plastic toothbrush ever made still exists? Or that there’s a floating mass of garbage twice the size of Texas drifting around the Pacific Ocean? It’s not all bad news though. As well as explaining where we’re going wrong, What a Waste shows what we’re doing right! Discover plans already in motion to save our seas, how countries are implementing schemes that are having a positive impact, and how your waste can be turned into something useful. Every small change helps our planet!

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Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood
Written by Tony Hillery & illustrated by Jessie Hartland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“An inspiring picture book for youngsters with meaningful ties to the environment, sustainability, and community engagement.” —Booklist
“Hartland’s gouache illustrations wobble endearingly, colorfully capturing the children’s triumph, and the kinetic energy and colorful vibrancy of the city neighborhood.” —Publishers Weekly

Discover the incredible true story of Harlem Grown, a lush garden in New York City that grew out of an abandoned lot and now feeds a neighborhood.

Once
In a big city called New York
In a bustling neighborhood
There was an empty lot.
Nevaeh called it the haunted garden.

Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration.

Five years later, the kids and their parents, with the support of the Harlem Grown staff, grow hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables a year. All of it is given to the kids and their families. The incredible story is vividly brought to life with Jessie Hartland’s “charmingly busy art” (Booklist) that readers will pore over in search of new details as they revisit this poignant and uplifting tale over and over again.

Harlem Grown is an independent, not-for-profit organization. The author’s share of the proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to Harlem Grown.

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Thank You, Earth
Written & illustrated by April Pulley Sayre
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Acclaimed children’s book author and photographer April Pulley Sayre’s love letter to Earth is a stunning exploration of the beauty and complexity of the world around us. Remarkable photographs and a rich, layered text introduce concepts of science, nature, geography, biology, poetry, and community. April Pulley Sayre, award-winning photographer and acclaimed author of more than sixty-five books, introduces concepts of science, nature, and language arts through stunning photographs and a poetic text structured as a simple thank-you note. Touching on subjects from life cycles to weather, colors, shapes, and patterns, this is an ideal resource for science and language art curriculums and a terrific book for bedtime sharing. Thank You, Earth is a great choice for Earth Day celebrations, as well as family and group read-alouds. Includes backmatter with kid-friendly ideas for conservation projects information about the photographs, and additional resources.

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I Can Save the Earth!
Written by Alison Inches & illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

A new “green” series!: Little Green Books will educate children on what they can do to be more eco-friendly. The books in this line will be made from recycled materials, and the storylines will cover subjects such as improving the environment, learning about endangered animals, recycling, and much more. Meet Max the Little Monster. He is a cute, furry green monster who is an environmental nightmare. Among other things, he leaves on all the lights, keeps his computer plugged in, blasts the TV, hoards his old toys and uses so much toilet paper it clogs the toilet until finally, his excessive ways cause a power outage. With no TV to watch, computer to play on, video games to play with, Max finds there is a whole big world outside that he can make a difference in the environment. Kids can follow Max the Little Green Monster’s journey to environmental awareness and learn tips on how they can become little green monsters themselves. A kid-friendly glossary of terms is included in the back of the book. This 8x8 paperback is perfect bound and will be printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper with soy-ink. The paper is FSC certified.

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Michael Recycle
Written by Ellie Bethel & illustrated by Alexandra Colombo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Michael Recycle, the green-caped crusader, visits the town of Abberdoo-Rimey and proves to the residents that recycling can actually be fun.

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  • I Love the Earth - With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity, bestselling author Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this board book. This adaptation of The Earth Book includes child friendly reasons to love our planet–from appreciating a beautiful tree to taking care of animals all around the world. Equally whimsical and heartfelt, this sweet homage to our beautiful planet is sure to inspire readers of all ages to do their part in keeping the Earth happy and healthy.

  • Aaalligator! - When a hungry alligator moves to their town, the residents want him out . . . until they get to know him (and learn what he’s actually hungry for!). A timely tale about empathy, acceptance and a community’s response to injustice.<br/><br/>Though he’s scared at first, a boy who encounters an alligator in the woods soon realizes that all the alligator wants is companionship — and leftovers — and the two become good friends. But the mayor of the boy’s town simply won’t allow it. He even makes an official proclamation, ?NO ALLIGATORS! Blah, blah, blah.? The townspeople agree with the mayor. At first. But once they see how kind and helpful the alligator is (and how nice it is to have someone to eat all their leftovers!), they decide the alligator should be allowed to stay. They help the alligator avoid the mayor, for a while. But it’s becoming harder to find a place for him to hide. Can they all come together and find a way to keep the alligator in their town?<br/><br/>Judith Henderson’s funny, whimsical and heartwarming picture book tale offers a playful way to engage children with issues of injustice and civil disobedience. In this timely story, a boy and then an entire community move beyond their fear of the ?other? and respond with acceptance; then they movingly take it a step further to make change. It highlights the positive character education attributes of empathy, kindness, caring and courage. Andrea Stegmaier’s illustrations include loads of charming details that are not in the text, making them a perfect complement to the story’s warm and quirky style. This is a terrific book for lessons on communities and social justice.

  • Pete Moss and the Super Strong Spinach - Follow Pete Moss in this magical, beautifully illustrated story as he attends boarding school on Bloomers Island to learn about gardening and growing his own vegetables. When Professor Sage announces the Very Very Veggie Challenge, Pete immediately knows what he needs to grow spinach. It’s the one vegetable that can make him stronger. But does Pete have the patience to grow his spinach plants to win the contest? With the help of headmaster Professor Sage and his fellow Bloomers, Pete learns all about spinach, working hard toward his goals, and that good things take time to happen! The Bloomers series brings to life the world of gardening and healthy-eating to young children in new and exciting ways.

  • Mr. Posey's New Glasses - In a charming tale of an elderly man and his obliging young friend, former poet laureate Ted Kooser and newcomer Daniel Duncan invite us to look at the world with fresh eyes. Mr. Posey is feeling gloomy. Everything seems dull. Maybe he needs new glasses? Perhaps a trip to the Cheer Up Thrift Shop with his energetic young neighbor, Andy, will help. But when the duo try on the glasses in the shop’s barrel, they’re in for a big surprise. One pair with stars for frames shows only constellations in a night sky. Round frames reveal a world all aswirl, while a heart-shaped pair makes everything pink. And as soon as Mr. Posey puts on the cat-eye framed glasses, fierce dogs start chasing him. No, thank you! But when Andy makes a simple observation, Mr. Posey’s view opens to a whole new world – and finally everything is brighter, different, and exciting.

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A Dolphin's Wish
Written by Trevor McCurdie & illustrated by Cinzia Battistel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Dive under the sea with a family of dolphins and discover the dangers of plastic pollution.

Every year, huge amounts of plastic end up in our oceans. Luckily, there’s something we can do to change that! Follow along as Daddy Dolphin and his son show readers what we’re doing wrong, then be inspired to take action and make a difference!

Featuring charming rhymes, bold illustrations, and educational back matter, this beautiful ocean tale offers readers a peek into life under the sea and is perfect for anyone who cares about our planet.

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The Mess That We Made
Written by Michelle Lord & illustrated by Julia Blattman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The Mess That We Made explores the environmental impact of trash and plastic on the ocean and marine life, and it inspires kids to do their part to combat pollution. Simple, rhythmic wording builds to a crescendo (“This is the mess that we made. These are the fish that swim in the mess that we made.”) and the vibrant digital artwork captures the disaster that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Children can imagine themselves as one of the four multi-ethnic occupants of the little boat surrounded by swirling plastic in the middle of the ocean, witnessing the cycle of destruction and the harm it causes to plants, animals, and humans. The first half of the book portrays the growing magnitude of the issue, and the second half rallies children and adults to make the necessary changes to save our oceans, before it is too late. Facts about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, ocean pollution, and how kids can help are included in the back matter.

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The Blue Giant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
A poignant and timely picture book introducing children to the issue of ocean pollution, with ideas to help the world become a better, cleaner place.
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Rainbow Weaver / Tejedora del Arcoíris
Written by Linda Marshall & illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Bilingual English/Spanish. A young Mayan girl isn't allowed to use her mother's thread to weave, so with a little ingenuity she discovers how to repurpose plastic bags to create colorful weavings. Based on an actual recycling movement in Guatemala.
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Touch the Earth
Written by Julian Lennon and Bart Davis & illustrated by Smiljana Coh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A New York Times bestseller that TODAY calls “beautiful” and “stunning!”

This interactive book immerses children in a fun and unique journey. Jump aboard the White Feather Flier, a magical plane that can go wherever you want! Just press a button printed on the page, and point the plane up in the air to fly, or down to land it! Fly to the top of a mountain! Send clean water to thirsty people! Dive deep into the ocean (the Flier turns into a submarine!) to pick up pollution and bring back the fish! Explore the planet, meet new people, and help make the world a better place!

The Flier’s mission is to transport readers around the world, to engage them in helping to save the environment, and to teach one and all to love our planet.

An inspiring, lyrical story, rooted in Lennon’s life and work, Touch the Earth is filled with beautiful illustrations that bring the faraway world closer to young children. The book includes words to a special poem written by Julian Lennon, specifically for Touch the Earth .

This is the first book in a planned trilogy. A portion of the proceeds from book sales will go to support the environmental and humanitarian efforts of the White Feather Foundation, the global environmental and humanitarian organization that Lennon founded to promote education, health, conservation, and the protection of indigenous culture.

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  • The Year of the Garden - In this prequel to The Year of the Book, join Anna in a year of discovery, new beginnings, friendships, and growth.

  • City Green - Celebrate the 25th anniversary of City Green--the environmentally and community-conscious classic that shows the wonderful things kids can do when they put their minds to it--with this new paperback edition. This picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 5 to 7 who are ready to read independently. It's a fun way to keep your child engaged and as a supplement for activity books for children.

  • The Vegetable Museum - Thirteen-year-old Chloë left her whole life back in Montreal, including her mom and her best friend. Now she’s stuck in Victoria with her dad and her estranged grandfather, Uli, who recently had a stroke. When Chloë agrees to help Uli look after his garden, she’s determined to find out why he and her dad didn’t speak to each other for years. For decades Uli has collected seeds from people in the community, distinct varieties that have been handed down through generations. The result is a garden full of unusual and endangered produce, from pink broccoli to blue kale to purple potatoes. But Chloë learns that the garden will soon be destroyed to make way for a new apartment complex. And the seed collection is missing! Chloë must somehow find a way to save her grandfather’s legacy

  • Violet and the Eggplant Painting Problem - In Violet and the Eggplant Painting Problem, Professor Sage holds a contest between the young Bloomers, where each must choose their favorite vegetable to grow and care for. Here, young readers are introduced to the character of Violet, a painter who loves purple. So of course she chooses to grow eggplants, and decides to make paintings of them to track their progress. But she runs into a problem—there’s no more purple paint! Violet quickly learns that she can gather blackberries to make her own purple paint, and she is able to paint her vegetables after all. Bloomers Island Garden of Stories picture books take young readers and listeners to Bloomers Island to experience the world of plants, flowers, and gardens through lively stories and lush illustrations.

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Love the World
Written & illustrated by Todd Parr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A celebration of love, respect, peace, and unity by bestselling author and illustrator Todd Parr. Love your grin. Love your skin. Love the bees. Love the trees. Love giving a hand. Love taking a stand. LOVE YOURSELF. LOVE THE WORLD! What the world needs now is love–and who better than Todd Parr to share a message of kindness, charity, and acceptance. Touching upon themes including self-esteem, environmentalism, and respect for others, Todd uses his signature silly and accessible style to encourage readers to show love for themselves and all the people, places, and things they encounter.

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Bloomers Island: The Great Garden Party
Written by Cynthia Wylie and Courtney Carbone & illustrated by Katya Longhi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The popular Bloomers Island! gardening kits and online world blossom in a playful, beautifully illustrated new book aimed at getting kids to love everything about nature. Join the Bloomers on a whimsical adventure as they attend a magical boarding school on Bloomers Island. As Pete Moss, Rosey Posey, Big Red, Violet, and their friends prepare for the Great Garden Party, they learn about gardening, healthy eating, and caring for the environment. The treehouse school is held by the arms of Mr. Banyan, a tree about to celebrate his 200th birthday. His birthday party is filled with fun games that teach the curious students that gardening is not at all boring or hard–that it’s actually really fun!

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One Earth
Written by Eileen Spinelli & illustrated by Rogerio Coelho
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Celebrate our planet and discover easy ways to take care of it with this picture book that's perfect for budding environmentalists and nature lovers.
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The Green Giant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
A beautiful eco-tale encouraging us to put down our devices and save the planet; written by an award-winning author and illustrator.
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The Three R's
Written by Nuria Roca & illustrated by Rosa M. Curto
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Explains how reducing, reusing, and recycling can help decrease pollution, and provides examples of how to do these things, including finding new uses for hand-me-downs and placing bottles in collection areas instead of trash cans. Original.

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  • The Wrench - Bob’s tricycle is broken and he needs a wrench to fix it. He ventures out to buy one at the Megamart, where slick salesman, Mr. Mart, convinces Bob that it’s not a wrench he needs, but a fridge hat…singing pajamas…a screaming machine! Bob spends all his money on things that he really doesn’t need and before he knows it has no money and no wrench.
    Lively illustrations and quirky hand-lettering make The Wrench a delight to read while also conveying an important message about consumerism and excess.

  • Under Threat - Travel the world in a stunning, informative book about animals under threat of extinction. From the giant panda of China to Fiji’s banded iguana, creatures all over the world are imperiled like never before in human history. Visit all inhabited continents via a series of striking graphic stamps by printmaker Tom Frost, depicting more than thirty species – some familiar, some you may not have known existed – all of which are in danger of not existing for much longer. Fact files from conservation biologist Martin Jenkins introduce readers to some of the threatened fauna around the globe. A timely call to arms for animal lovers young and old, this oversize nonfiction book discusses the reasons that so many species are in danger of dying out and what we can do to help them.

  • Eco Babies Wear Green - The urban babies have gone green! Whether living life in the fast-carpool-lane, or eating locally grown produce, you’ll find these trendy tots going the extra mile to reduce, reuse, and recycle. The Urban Babies Wear Black series has sold more than 50,000 copies. Perfect fit for Earth Day promotions. Fifth book in best-selling toddler series.

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