With Earth Day coming up on 22nd April we thought it was the perfect time to share some chapter books with environmental themes. Children's chapter books about nature and the environment can transport young readers to breath-taking landscapes, introduce them to fascinating creatures and inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them.
There’s also a growing trend for children's books that encourage kids to take action to protect the natural world. These books inspire children to care for the planet, develop empathy for nature and take meaningful actions to make a positive impact. From teaching about recycling and conservation to advocating for endangered species and raising awareness about environmental issues, these books ignite a sense of environmental activism in children and inspire them to be advocates for a greener, more sustainable world.
We have curated a list of 15 of the best children's chapter books about nature and the environment that are sure to captivate young readers. As parents, these books are a great way to prompt meaningful conversations with kids about the environment alongside encouraging empathy, compassion and responsibility.
These book ideas may also provide KS1 and KS2 teachers with a creative and engaging way to incorporate environmental topics into their lesson plans, spark classroom discussions, promote critical thinking and raise environmental awareness among students.
Whether your child is an avid nature lover, an aspiring environmentalist or simply in need of a good book to read, we think this list has something for everyone.
So grab a cosy blanket, head outdoors and dive into these captivating stories that will inspire young readers to appreciate the beauty and importance of nature, and motivate them to take action to protect our planet this Earth Day and beyond.
Four chapter books that help children understand and celebrate the natural world
Ariki and the Giant Shark by Nicola Davies
Ariki lives on tropical Turtle Island and has a natural affinity for the creatures that live on it and in the sea that surrounds it. When an enormous shark threatens the village, it is only Ariki that understands it’s true intentions. This beautifully illustrated story is the first in a series of adventures that kids aged 5+ will love.
By Ash, Oak and Thorn by Melissa Harrison
Three tiny, ancient beings - Moss, Burnet and Cumulus - wake from winter hibernation in their beloved ash tree home. When it is destroyed, they set off on an adventure to find more of their kind. Readers aged 8+ will explore the flora and fauna of the British countryside and cities through this charming, classic-feeling story.
Bigfoot Mountain by Roderick O’Grady
When Minnie discovers four giant footprints on a mountain trail her home, her life becomes intertwined with that of Kaayii, a Bigfoot. Kaayii and his clan must move across the mountain to escape huge forest fires but find their ancient paths blocked by new holiday cabins. Can Minnie and Kaayii’s help each other? This captivating novel for children aged 8+ raises important questions about how we look after the world around us and what it means to share it with the other creatures who also call it home.
The Map of Leaves by Yarrow Townsend
Orla lives alone, isolated from her community with only her garden for company. When her beloved plants are blamed for a mysterious sickness, she must find a cure and uncover some terrible truths to save her garden. This gripping adventure takes place in a stunning setting and explores the complex relationships between the three central characters as well as between humans and the natural world. Perfect for 8+.
4 chapter books about children taking action to protect the natural world
Sona Sharma, Looking After Planet Earth by Chitra Soundar
In this beautifully illustrated chapter book for early readers, Sona learns about the climate crisis at school and decides to take action at home. She meets resistance from some members of her family but her determination to make a change wins through. Part of a charming series set in India for readers aged 5+.
The Last Bear by Hannah Gold
April is living on a remote Arctic island with her father when one day she meets a starving, lonely polar bear that’s far from home. Determined to save him, she sets out on a life-changing adventure. This award-winning story will be continued in Finding Bear, due to be published in September 2023. Ideal for readers aged 8 and up.
My Name is River by Emma Rea
When Dylan's farm is snatched away by a huge global company, he can't sit back and watch. But the journey to rescue his home takes him deep into the heart of the Amazon, where he discovers uncomfortable truths he’s determined to set right. A globe-trotting adventure for 8+.
Burning Sunlight by Anthea Simmons
Zaynab and Lucas come from completely different parts of the world, but when they meet in rural Devon they discover one common cause that matters to them both: the climate crisis. When Zaynab uncovers a plot that could destroy the environment and people's lives back home in Somaliland, she will stop at nothing to prevent it. A thought-provoking story for readers aged 11+
Two chapter books focused on the importance of recycling
The Tindims of Rubbish Island by Sally Gardner
This book is the first in a series set on Rubbish Island, which the Tindims have built entirely from things humans have thrown away. In this story Ethel B Dina is blown out to sea and the Tindims must launch a rescue operation with the help of some friendly fish. Beautifully illustrated adventures for age 5 and up.
The Dangerous Life of Ophelia Bottom by SusieBower
Ophelia and her family are always on the move as a travelling theatre. When they are forced to stay in the idyllic town of Stopford it soon becomes apparent that someone is trying to drive the Bottoms out. There’s also the issue of the strange Stopford motto: PLASTIC IS FANTASTIC – DIFFERENT IS DANGEROUS. Can Ophelia discover what lurks behind Stopford’s perfect appearance before she loses everything that makes her family so special? A rip-roaring adventure for age 8+.
4 eco-dystopian books raising awareness about the importance of protecting the planet
The Lorax by Dr Seuss
Though first published in 1971 and technically not a chapter book, the clear environmental message in this book is as important as ever. Humour, rhyme and colourful illustrations help tell the story of the Lorax, a creature who stands up for the trees as they are gradually destroyed by a greedy businessman.
The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare by Zillah Bethel
This thrilling and breath-taking adventure is set in a near future where water has become such a rare commodity that wars are being fought over it. Against this backdrop, Auden and his friend Vivi are drawn into a mystery that leads them to befriend an humanoid robot and race to outwit sinister forces that are at work. Ideal for age 8+.
How to Bee by Bren MacDibble
Set in a future Australia in a time when there are no bees and children are employed to scramble through the fruit trees with feather wands to pollinate them. This is the beautiful and thought-provoking story of Peony who dreams of being ‘a bee’ but is forced in a more challenging direction by her complex family life. An eye-opening read for age 8+.
Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold
This eco-thriller for readers aged 8 and up, see Juniper Greene and her brother living in a walled city from which nature has been banished because of a deadly man-made disease. When scientists discover that Juniper and her brother might be the key to unlocking a cure they must escape the city and search for their mother in the natural world beyond the walls.