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Top kids' books to save the environment

Inspire a new generation of eco travellers with books to save the environment — swapping preachy evangelism for clever creativity.

Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:41 BST, Updated 15 Jul 2021, 15:57 BST
Children picking up trash.

It's never too early to start sharing the message that we're part of the natural world, and books can help teach this lesson to children.

Photograph by Getty

The movement to give up single-use plastic is gathering force, so it's good to see the arrival of This Book is Not Rubbish: 50 Ways to Ditch Plastic, Reduce Rubbish and Save the World! by Isabel Thomas. Aimed at ages 9–11, it's not at all moralising. Instead, through quirky illustrations, pithy texts and lists of concrete actions, it encourages kids to see how all of us can start to take control of our future.

Topics range from ditching straws and glitter to 'taking a bag for a walk' — reusing a plastic carrier bag in the service of the planet by employing it as a receptacle when you're out clearing litter. As someone who's far from green-fingered, I was particularly taken by the idea of us letting our garden 'get messy' to encourage wildflowers and small animals.

It's never too early to start sharing the message that we're part of the natural world, not its master. This is why Lifesize by Sophie Henn captured my attention, inviting 3–5-year-olds to compare themselves with various species. Kids can high-five a polar bear to discover who has the biggest paw and peer through a die-cut to find out how they'd look with a giant squid eye, among other marvels.

50 Ways to Ditch Plastic, Reduce Rubbish and Save the World! by Isabel Thomas, RRP: £6.99 (Wren & Rook); Lifesize by Sophie Henn, RRP: £8.99 (Red Shed)


For… preschoolers (ages 2–4)
Little Acorn
Gorgeously illustrated, this new board book introduces tots to the fascinating life cycle of trees. RRP: £6.97 (Igloo)

For… primary schoolers (ages 5–11)
The Book of Trees by Piotr Socha & Wojciech Grajkowsk
This arboreal read traces the history of trees from the time of the dinosaurs. RRP: £18.95 (Thames & Hudson)

For… tweens and early teens (ages 12–14)
National Trust: I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree by Fiona Waters & Frann Preston-Gannon
The lavishly illustrated new collection offers up a nature poem for every day of the year. RRP: £25 (Nosy Crow)

For… young adults (ages 14–17)
Geomorphia by Kerby Rosanes
Anything that gets teens away from their screens and focused on nature is a winner in our eyes — and this colouring book does exactly that. RRP: £6.99 (LOM Art)

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Published in the Family 2019 guide, distributed with the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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