Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Nine Youth Books with Earth Stewardship Themes

There’s nothing like a book to plant the seed of an idea or to explore an issue. Below are nine titles to interest youth in earth stewardship themes. Obviously, the list is not exhaustive, but it will give parents and teachers an idea of what’s available for tweens and teens—dystopian fiction, humorous mysteries, chick lit, problem novels, and engaging nonfiction. For more ideas, talk to your local librarian.

Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Fiction : Teen
In the year 2015, the United Kingdom becomes the first country to ration carbon, issuing carbon debit cards to citizens in a plan that inadvertently causes disaster. Sixteen-year-old Laura is consumed by normal teenage interests—her band, her exams, her crush—but when drought and fire cause riots, Laura and her family are forced to face the devastation around them. Told in diary format, this is the first book in a series.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Fiction : Teen
After the Gulf Coast is ravaged by ecological disasters, teenager Nailer survives by scavenging copper wiring off grounded oil tankers.  When he happens upon a beautiful clipper ship, he’s faced with a difficult decision—strip the vessel to make more money or save the life of the ship’s only survivor. A National Book Award finalist and Winner of the 2011 Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature.

Firestorm by David Klass
Fiction : Teen
Seventeen-year-old Jack discovers that he has special powers and abilities and that he’s been sent from the future to save the earth when he’s plunged into a space-time–bending game of survival following the murder of his adopted parents. This is the first book in the Caretaker Trilogy, a series of eco-thrillers.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Fiction : Grades 5-8
In a humorous middle school mystery, three unlikely kids protest the building of a Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House to save endangered burrowing owls. Winner of a 2003 Newbery honor award. Hiaasen’s more recent middle school novels, Scat, Chomp, and Flush also include earth stewardship themes.

Home, and Other Big Fat Lies by Jill Wolfson
Fiction : Grades 5-8
When Whitney joins her twelfth foster family, she develops a love for the trees in her new town and finds herself in opposition to her new family and the entire town when she and her friends fight to save an old redwood.

My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald
Fiction : Grades 5-8
In this funny, sweet novel, twelve-year-old Lucy comes up with a plan to save her family’s struggling drugstore after she joins her school’s Earth Club. This is a book equally full of makeovers and 7th grade angst as recycling and earth advocacy.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Fiction : All Ages
The classic Seuss children’s book tells the tale of the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, in a fable that cautions against consumerism at the expense of the earth. With the new movie out, children of all ages will be interested in this title.

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsom, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns
Nonfiction : Grades 5+
Oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash—from sneakers to bathtub toys—spilled into the ocean and uses the data to understand and protect the ocean. This work has been very well-reviewed and praised for its engaging text and photographs.

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss
Nonfiction : Grades 4+
Considering all the water on Earth as “One Well” used by all life, Strauss presents a discussion, filled with interesting facts and illustrations, of the use and abuse of water resources. A section for children on “Becoming Well Aware” and notes for adults and youth to consider the quality and quantity of their water usage are included.
If you are concerned about potentially unsuitable material in any of these titles, please check http://www.commonsensemedia.org for content reviews or preview the book before sharing it with your child or student.

  • Peter says:

    Looks like an excellent list, fitting nicely with our monthly theme of nurturing environmental awareness in the next generation.  I can only speak to the two I’ve read, (Hoot and the Lorax), but I echo your recommendation of those two.