Top 5 GREEN Kids Books to Encourage Your Little Environmental, Climate Change Activist, Anti-Plastic Eco-Warriors

Lately, I’ve been making small environmental changes – silicone lids to replace cellophane, soap nuts to replace washing powder, switching to a renewable energy provider. My wife and I even decided to use cloth nappies and reusable baby wipes (which are brilliant and every parent should at least give them a go).

It’s important to carry on making these small changes, but what we should also be doing is encouraging our children to adopt these green alternatives as well. Kids love reading so let’s make sure they read books that help them become part of the solution rather than the problem.

It’s what Greta would want, right!

So I’ve been searching through the libraries and the bookstores to uncover the best climate change combating, plastic straw scrapping, extinction rebellion-ish books out there to inspire the leaders of the future. And here are the best of the bunch.

5. Greta and the Giants by Zoë Tucker & Zoe Persico

This book is a wonderfully crafted allegory involving a real-life climate change activist – Noble Prize nominee Greta Thunberg.

In the narrative, governments and industry are represented by giants who destroy the environment, leaving the animals fearing for their future. Nobody wants to do anything because everybody is afraid of standing up to the giants. Everybody except Greta, that is. She starts by herself, but is soon joined by others, until there are so many that their complaints can no longer be ignored. And as you can see from the front cover, the illustrations are gorgeous!

Greta and the Giants somehow manages to simplify climate change and the power one child has to change the world into a story that reception kids will grasp. Despite this, parents and adults need to read this just as much as children. It’s a fable for the modern world. What makes this story even better is that the main character, Greta, has Aspergers in real life and so we now have a book that not only encourages environmental discussions but also champions positive representation . . . phew, that was a long and meaningful sentence.

PLUS – at the end, there is a little blurb explaining that in real life the fight against the giants is still raging on. It also gives suggestions on what they can do to be apart of the solution.

4. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

There’s nothing quite like a true story, and this one is so damn inspirational the boy in the story went on to do a TEDTalk!

William lives in Malawi, Africa, and faces the harsh realities of poverty. The young boy has it rough – he nearly starves during a famine, is forced to drop out of school due to poverty, and his only hopes are in an extremely minimal library of books that aren’t even in his own language. Despite the odds, he manages to build a working windmill that generates electricity to his home and pumps water to feed the crops . . . and also builds a radio station! Like, wooooooooow, this kid is AMAZING!

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind would be perfect for a whole class read through (and then build mini windmills of their own). If you want your kids to learn resilience and the importance of learning, this is the book to do just that.

3. Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

If you’re looking for an eco-book disguised as a brilliant middle-grade book then I’ve found it for you.

“I’m not exactly in the Lake District.”

Indeed he is not. He’s not even on Earth. With that small, understated sentence Frank Cottrell Boyce introduces readers to his twelve-year-old narrator, Liam. He is really tall; tall enough to ride any amusement park ride he wishes, tall enough to drive, tall enough to be repeatedly mistaken as an adult (like on his first day at secondary school when his classmates mistake him for being their teacher). Liam ends up in a rocket blasting off towards the moon . . . with a bunch of kids . . . who thinks he is a dad.

Boyce is a very funny writer. He really does know how to craft a good sentence. For example: “I don’t think the world has vanished. But it is worrying not being able to see it. After all, Earth is where I keep all my stuff.” But, he can also make you think. He writes fantastic books that star boys, that are laugh-out-loud-on-your-work-lunch-break-and-get-strange-looks funny (I speak from experience here), and that also makes you think about life, death, the universe, and everything in it. Cosmic pairs the story of a twelve-year-old who looks thirty with discovering our place in the universe and responsibility to not waste it.

I’m thinking 9-12’s for this, but I reckon any aged human who picked this up would start thinking more and more about their carbon footprint.

2. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

If endangered animals are your little eco-warriors prefered subject than take peek at this.

Hoot is about, you guessed it, endangered birds – the burrowing owl to be precise. Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a school bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t mashed his face against the school bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. He was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and – here’s the odd part – wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy goes on an adventure to find him and in the process meets a potty-trained alligator, a fake-fart champion, several endangered owls, a renegade eco-warrior, and several extremely poisonous snakes.

For anyone who has read a Hiaasen book for adults, you’ll recognise all his usual troupes in his middle-grade fiction: the quirky hero, the feisty female character, the grunt that seems bad but turns out to be not-so-bad, the odd law enforcement officer, the evil business owner, and a natural environment or animal that is endangered. All the ingredients are here mixed in with his trademark funny banter and quirky humour (except a PG version).

Hiaasen always manages to get a pro-environment and anti-development message into all of his books, as well as his love of Florida. So it’s nice to see this one got nominated for the Newbury Award, and well deserved too!

1. The Last Wild by Piers Torday

I’ve left the best to last. This book is the most astoundingly imaginative, breathtakingly creative and wonderfully inspiring book I’ve ever had the fortune to read.

In a world where animals no longer exist, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes sometimes feels like he hardly exists either. Locked away in a home for troubled children, he’s told there’s something wrong with him. So when he meets a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach, Kester thinks he’s finally gone crazy. But the animals have something to say. And they need him. The animals manage to save Kester Jaynes from his prison and take him to The Last Wild. But can Kester save the animals?

Yes, this book is pro-environment, but it is also very very very good. It is both incredibly educational and a thrilling read. It has the power to impact a children’s minds but is also is an enthralling story. And it’s the first of a trilogy (Book Two is called The Dark Wild is about living in harmony with nature and Book Three is called The Wild Beyond is about ocean pollution).

The Last Wild desires to be in every classroom, school library and children’s bookshelves!

. . . and, last but not least, here’s my Eco kids book

There are three things you should know about Seaweed:

1. He is an eleven-year-old boy (and not the slimy green stuff at the bottom of the ocean)
2. He is an Eco-Warrior and the only one in his hometown – Picklington
3. He is willing to do whatever it takes to save the planet . . . anything!

Here are three more things that make Seaweed really angry:

1. The people of Picklington are wasting far too much electricity. Bummer!
2. The Mayor of Picklington is profiting from the pollution by building his unsafe and unnecessary Nuclear Power Station. Double bummer!!
3. The Picklington Vegetable Society is campaigning tirelessly against the Mayor (which is hard work considering Seaweed is the only member) and they are getting zero results. Triple bummer with a non-biodegradable plastic cherry on top!!!

He feels like he is letting the planet down . . . until he joins The Carrot Bandits. Join him as he discovers that indoctrination isn’t so bad. Sure, joining a criminal organisation and stealing one million socks is probably wrong but he gets to hang out with Pank, his equally indoctrinated sidekick, and he is finally making a real difference.

But blowing up the entire town in a catastrophic nuclear explosion would be a step too far, wouldn’t it?

This hilarious book is perfect for the little and big Eco-Warriors in this world. It’s going to take everyone to save our planet, and that’s exactly what this book is here to say (and also to make you laugh, but mainly the saving the planet thing).

Top 5 Awarding-Winning Kids Book from 2019

With Christmas around the corner, all us parents are looking for solid gold reading material to put in our kid’s stocking. Something that will capture their imaginations and broaden their minds (and maybe stop them from looking at a screen for least a few minutes).

Here are my top five award-winning middle-grade fiction books for kids that have earned a badge of honour in 2019.

5. British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year 2019 Winner – The Ice Monster

The all-conquering David Walliams has been scooping up awards with a JCB Digger, and I say good for him (but it would be nice if he left some for everyone else).

This one bagged the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year for 2019. The Ice Monster takes young readers to the wintry wilds of the arctic for his most epic novel yet. Elsie, an adventurous Victorian orphan, hears about a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth being discovered at the North Pole which kicks off the expedition of a lifetime. While everyone else sees a beast, Elsie sees a friend. It’s chocked full of friendly humour and zany villains and crazy science stuff worthy of a Roald Dahl book.

The Ice Monster has only sold 625,000 copies. And it managed to sell a quarter of a million more than the second top seller (which also happens to be Walliams too, the show-off).

Other Notables on the Shortlist: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeymi (which won the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2018), The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2019), and Head Kid by David Baddiel (which is, well, it’s a good read).

4. CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 Winner – The Poet X

The Carnegie Medal (pronounced ‘car-neigh’, and now you’ll always think of a horse driving a mini cooper when you hear it) is the oldest book awards for children and young people in the UK.

By debut author, Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X was concocted whilst working as an English teacher at a secondary school in Maryland, USA, as you do. The daughter of Dominican immigrants, she realised that the books on the curriculum didn’t contain characters of colour. And she also noticed that this often leads to a disinterest in reading for those kids not being represented in kids books.

This book is a searing, unflinching exploration of culture, family and faith. Xiomara, does every type of verse through the story. She cries, laughs, loves, prays, writes, raps and, ultimately, offers hope. It’s a book that will show kids how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin. Which is a fantastic life-lesson for everyone!

Other Notables on the Shortlist: The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders (which won the Costa Children’s Book Award), A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge (who won also won the Costa Children’s Book Award, but for a different book), and Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls (which won the Waterstone Children’s Book Prize).

3. LOLLIES Winner 2019 – Tom Gates: Epic Adventure (Kind Of)

The LOLLIES (or the Laugh Out Loud Book Awards) is the only prize dedicated to funny books, which makes it my favourite! But the best thing about the Lollies is that the winners are chosen by the readers, so anyone who reads the books and wants to have their say can vote.

The winners in all three categories in 2019 were all women, another reason to like this award. Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates: Epic Adventure (Kind Of) won in the 9 – 13 category. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of flicking through the pages of a Tom Gates book you’ll know that an infinite amount of imaginative doodles fly off the paper. It’s a delightfully addictive series that, as the award says, makes you laugh out loud.

The Other Winners: Mr Bunny’s Chocolate Factory by Elys Dolan (Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book), The Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp (Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6 – 8s)

2. FCBG Children’s Book Award Winner 2019 – The Explorer

The Children’s Book Award is the only national award voted solely by children from start to finish. Everyone loves it – kids, parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, children’s authors and the illustrators. Why? Because every year nearly 12,000 books are donated to hospitals, women’s refuges, nurseries and schools. Isn’t that incredible!

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell won the most votes in 2019. Fred, Con, Lila, and Max are travelling back to England when the plane crashes in the jungle. That’s not the worse bit . . . the pilot dies upon landing. For days they survive alone until Fred finds a map that leads them to a ruined city, and to a secret. This tale of friendship and discovery is a long, but thrilling read.

The Other Winners: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson (Winner of our Older Readers Category), I Dare You by Reece Wykes (Winner of the Younger Children’s Category).

1. Blue Peter Book Award Winner 2019 & Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize Winner 2019 – The Boy at the Back of the Class

This book decided one award wasn’t enough, so it went and won another. If you’re from the UK you can skip over the next paragraph.

So, Blue Peter is a children’s TV programme that has been going for over 60 years which aims to encourage reading. And Waterstones is a chain of bookstores dotted across the UK that are rather marvellous because, as you already know, books are wonderful.

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf’s is a book that, in my opinion, everyone should read. Four classmates befriend the new kid at school, Ahmet, who they discover is a refugee from Syria. Through their sensitivity, curiosity, ingenuity, bravery and innocent niceness, they make a massive impact on Ahmet’s life, friends, class, school, community and wider world . . . and also you, if you read it.

Other Notables on the Shortlist: The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher (no relation to Princess Leia), The Train to Impossible Places by P.G. Bell (no relation to the telephone guy), and The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd (who may or may not herd sheep).