Children’s books with an environmental message
In Part One of my series on Eco Children’s Entertainment, we take a look at a selection of children’s books with an environmental message.
When it comes to children’s entertainment, parents often choose the educational route, and with good reason; it is far easier to teach children when they don’t know they’re being taught. The fables and fairy tales of old are prime examples, and in recent years environmentalism has wormed its way into children’s stories.
Below are some of the ones I found the most intriguing, but there are tons more out there all either addressing individual environmental concerns or climate change as a whole.
1. The Lorax
Probably the most well-known eco children’s book, The Lorax was published in 1971 (and later adapted, but we’ll get to that), and tells the story of the Once-ler. The Once-ler has discovered that he can make a marvelous product called a Thneed out of the Truffula tree, but finds opposition in the form of the Lorax. He speaks for the trees, and warns the Once-ler about the dangers of depleting a finite resource.
2. The Giving Tree
There are stories about a boy and his dog, but never a boy and his tree. Published in 1964, the book tells the story of a boy’s relationship with a tree throughout his life. Some argue that it shows the boy as extremely selfish and taking advantage of the tree, but I see it as a depiction of humanity’s relationship with nature, which can unfortunately be one of humans taking and rarely reciprocating.
3. The Curious Garden
A popular one on children’s fiction lists, The Curious Garden was published in 2009, and tells the story of a little boy named Liam who finds and tends to an urban garden, ultimately transforming his city.
4. Flight of the Hummingbird: A Parable for the Environment
Published in 2008, this story of a hummingbird trying to put out a forest fire that threatens her home is actually a retelling of a parable from the Quechuan people of South America. In addition to the rather short tale are two essays, one by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai, and another by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
5. The Trouble with Dragons
Published in 2009, Scottish writer Gliori tells the story of our current environmental crises through the troubles dragons are having on their own planet, from pollution and deforestation to the often ignored (at least in children’s literature) over-population. But just like humans, the dragons are given the opportunity to change.
6. The Green Start Series
Published in 2010, this adorable series introduces children to the idea of being eco-conscious by teaching them about different animal habitats, how to grow their own food, and how to help the planet. As an added bonus, the books are made out of 98% post-consumer recycled materials and printed with eco-friendly inks.
More environmentally themed children’s entertainment
See Kate’s favourite eco cartoons for kids here.
For more information on this author see her profile here +Kate Fathers