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Books for a Better Planet

Celebrate the wonders of the world with Maricopa County Library District’s recommendations for Earth Day reads! These books are sure to spark love and appreciation for mother nature. Looking for more? Check out all your county library has to offer at


We Are Earthlings by Rachel Qiuqi

This board book uses limited words and gentle illustrations to depict all living things on the Earth as Earthlings. A bit more text is included on some pages to encourage readers in the simple things they can do to care for the Earth.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “You’ll enjoy the hopeful tone and sweet illustrations of Earthlings in unity with each other and the Earth.” —Janelle Y., Librarian

Little Hearts by Charles Ghigna

A group of animal friends go on a nature walk and discover that hearts can be found in many places outdoors.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “Adorable illustrations and rhyming text make this a sweet introduction to nature for little ones.” —Amy C., Librarian


Listen to the Earth: Caring for Our Planet by Carme Lemniscates

This nonfiction picture book offers a look at climate change, the Earth Overshoot Day, and how we can respond to it. It’s a call-to-action that emphasizes the urgency of what we must do, illuminated by an optimistic faith in kids.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “This is a book that’s beautiful because of all the different ways it can be used – simple enough for our youngest environmental champions, but full of depth for older kids and parents to explore topics further.” —Caroline L., Library Paraprofessional

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals

What do we do with our garden and food waste? Make compost, of course! An A-to-Z recipe for what gardeners refer to as “black gold,” presented in a brightly illustrated and rhyming format, will get kids eager to try their hands at playing in the mud and creating some environmentally friendly compost.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “This book is a great read aloud and will have kids eager to try their hands at composting. Rhyming rhythms and letter awareness combine with science to create the perfect book for Earth Day.” —Jennifer G., Librarian

1st – 3rd GRADE

The Day the River Caught Fire: How the Cuyahoga River Exploded and Ignited the Earth Day Movement by Barry Wittenstein

On June 22, 1969, a spark from a railroad car set the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio on fire. This wasn’t the first time a river had caught on fire, but this time people paid attention, thanks to Cleveland’s first Black Mayor, Carl Stokes. The mayor used the event to call attention to the plight of America’s heavily polluted rivers and declared a war on pollution. People responded and demanded action, including the first Earth Day protest held on April 22, 1970.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “Perfect prose, facts, and just a little bit of gross, along with kid-friendly and rather funny pictures of diverse people called to action, will appeal to kids in grades 1-3. Lots of additional information such as a list of other books, videos, organizations, and websites show kids how they can get involved and make a difference for our planet.” —Jennifer G., Librarian

This is the Planet Where I Live by K. L. Going & Debra Frasier

Modeled after the English nursery rhyme “The House that Jack Built,” this upbeat picture book tells the ecological tale of how we’re all connected by our reliance on nature and the planet.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “The concept of caring for each other by caring for our environment is introduced through rhyme, repetition, and lots of playful illustrations to pore over.” —Andrea B., Library Paraprofessional

4th – 6th GRADE

Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins

Neel loves the island village where he lives. When a tiger cub escapes from a nearby nature reserve, a rich newcomer with corrupt intentions offers money to anyone who brings him the cub. Although Neel’s family needs the money, he searches for the cub to save her from harm and return her to her mother.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “This satisfying adventure is infused with humor and offers a heartwarming peek into a different culture through the experience of a loving Indian family. It also touches on the fact that climate change is affecting people that contribute to it the least.” —Andrea B., Library Paraprofessional

Team Trash: A Time Traveler’s Guide to Sustainability by Kate Wheeler

Stuck working on a science project together, Charlie and Oliver find themselves hurtling through time and cultures to learn why and how various people reused materials in everyday life.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “It’s a graphic novel and has time travel, so it’s a great way to engage with tweens while sneaking in some social and environmental issues discovery.” —Janelle Y., Librarian


How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time by Will McCallum

Plastic is not going away without a fight! This book is a call-to-arms to join forces across the world and end our dependence on single-use plastic.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: “While there are many books out there with advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, this one is full of practical tips that are organized by where you can reduce plastic in day-to-day life, at work, and in the community! Anyone interested in how they can make a change that helps the planet will find something applicable in this guide to giving up plastic.” —Caroline L., Library Paraprofessional

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

In this collection of speeches, Greta Thunberg brings awareness to the climate crisis. These speeches have been heard across the globe and are a call-to-action for us to protect the living planet for the future.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: ”Greta Thunberg is a teenage climate activist, and serves to show that even a teenager can care and make a difference. No one is too small or too young to be heard or to make a change.” –Dannelle C., Librarian



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