Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Books for thinking about the planet. From picture books to YA fiction, these all pack a punch but there is room for optimism too.
It’s Up To Us: A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People and Planet by Christopher Lloyd
£16.99 What On Earth Books (in partnership with the Prince’s Foundation)
Out on 1 November, this beautiful picture book, with a heartfelt Foreword from Prince Charles, should be on every family bookshelf. Calmly explaining what is happening to the natural world and our part in it, the book ends with a ‘terra carta’, a plan of action for the Earth. Each spread is illustrated by a different artist from around the world and the end result is a powerful and ultimately uplifting manifesto.
Wild Child: A Journey Through Nature by Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls £14.99 Macmillan
“Always remember, you are a guardian and a seeker.” Armed with this advice, let naturalist McAnulty take your kids on a nature walk that is both lyrical and practical. Learn about birds (it’s a ‘charm’ of goldfinches, who knew!), trees, migration and metamorphosis from species and landforms on our doorsteps. Make a bird feeder, a terrarium, a journey stick, an experiment to find out what is living on an oak tree… Learn why you shouldn’t pick bluebells and why Latin matters. The brilliant McAnulty will inspire a generation of impassioned naturalists. Wonderful illustrations too.
What the Elephant Heard by Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Sam Usher £12.99 Wellbeck
Follow a herd of African elephants through time and across the continent as their way of life becomes harder and harder. Charlotte Guillain’s rhyming text is perfectly complimented by Sam Usher’s beautiful illustrations. Gentle and poignant.
Earth is Big, a Book of Comparisons by Steve Tomecek, illustrated by Marcos Farina £14.99 What on Earth Books Often the sheer enormity of numbers stops them having any relevance. By starting with relatable comparisons, Tomacek cleverly draws kids into some quite complex scientific facts about the natural world, the universe and our place in it.
Earlier this year, we particularly enjoyed When We Went Wild by Isabella Tree, illustrated by Allira Tee £6.99 Ivy Books. The picture book version of her re-wilding journey at Knepp is a compelling story of nature taking the lead.
Green Kids Cook: Simple, Delicious Recipes & Top Tips by Jenny Chandler £14.99 Pavilion
Get kids aged between 7 and 14 cooking and eating food that’s as good for them as it is for the planet. There are over 60 recipes for fun family food and also lovely sewing projects, foraging tips and ideas on how to sprout your own pulses.
Fiction for Older Children
The Wild Before by Piers Torday £12.99 Hachette
This much-anticipated prequel to the brilliant The Last Wild trilogy does not disappoint. At its heart is the urgent message that we must act now to save our planet before it’s too late. And what a beautiful world, worth saving it is! Fall in love with his cast of brave and foolish hares, stubborn badgers, funny harvest mice, birds and butterflies. Echoes of Watership Down, but with a magic all of its own. It’s about searching for hope, even in the very darkest of times, something we all need to be reminded to do. Ages 8+.
The Summer We Turned Green by William Sutcliffe £7.99 Bloomsbury
We read this refreshing and very funny book over the summer holidays. It’s about an awkward teenage boy whose summer doesn’t turn out as he had planned when his sister moves ‘across the road’ to a community of climate rebels protesting about a planned airport expansion. Ages 12+.
Older children wanting to read novels with an underlying ‘eco’ them will enjoy the beating heart of the earth at the centre of The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis (£6.99 Bloomsbury)
In the fast-moving Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes (£7.99 Orion), a group of city kids find themselves in a frightening situation in a national park, inspired by real life events.
Claire Gill and Emily Turner
25 October 2021