Students around the world are increasingly engaging with (and in fact, driving) activism around the climate crisis. We’ve put together a list of six books about the environment, ranging from primary to secondary titles, for students interested in stories about conservation, endangered species, and sustainable practices.
1. Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker
‘My father says there has been a rainforest here for over a hundred million years.’ A boy and his father visits a rainforest bordered by the sea, wild and untouched by human intervention. The boy imagines what the environment was like in the past, and what it might be like in the future. Jeannie Baker’s picture book examines the effects of human impact on natural environments; the glimpse into the future at the end of the book is a warning to the reader that the effects could be damaging and irrevocable. Students can discuss the importance of conservation, learn about the Daintree Rainforest, and practise using persuasive language to write about a cause.
2. The Little Corroboree Frog by Tracey Holton-Ramirez and Angela Ramirez
If you ever go for a walk in the Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, you might come across a small, ground-dwelling frog with black and yellow markings. This striking creature is the Southern Corroboree frog, an endangered Australian species. Written and illustrated by sisters Tracey and Angela, The Little Corroboree Frog tells the story of a corroboree frog showing a human boy the danger his family is in because of humans. Importantly, the book makes clear that the threat is not only rubbish and pollution, but climate change too, and the story ends with the human boy wondering about long-term solutions to keep the frogs safe. This book shows readers that their actions have consequences, and we must all do our part to keep our environment clean and the animals safe.
3. Benny Bungara’s Big Bush Clean-Up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina
‘Rubbish is causing a lot of trouble in our bush. What can we do about it?’ This is the key question posed in this book aimed at early readers. When Benny Bungarra’s friends become injured by rubbish dropped in their bush by careless humans, he decides to host a Big Bush Clean-up. The story makes clear that human items like plastic bottles, fishing line and broken glass can hurt the animals who call the bush their home. Benny Bungarra and his friends suggest ways that human-readers can help make the natural world a safe place for everybody!
4. Here On Earth by Tim Flannery
‘We stand at a crossroads, where comprehension of our place in nature – of our true abilities and of our history – is supremely important.’ Tim Flannery, one of our leading voices on environmental issues and climate change, subtitled his book ‘An Argument for Hope’. It is a direct call for action to create a sustainable world. Students will explore the ways that science is written and read, how to recognise and employ persuasive strategies in texts, as well as navigate their way through criticism to the text.
5. Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
‘One of the most fundamental differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is the understanding of the relationship between people and land.’ In his groundbreaking book, Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe once and for all dismisses the myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were hunter-gatherers. Using a range of primary sources, including the journals and records by early Europeans, he demonstrates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders had sophisticated farming and irrigation practices, and that for millennia the land was managed with great skill and understanding, and also with a deep love.
6. The Deep: Here Be Dragons by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer
The Deep: Here Be Dragons is a graphic novel that features a family of underwater explorers who discover the existence of a creature from the deep… One of the key themes is the importance of respecting the environment – the Nekton family explore exciting new places but never damage the animals they encounter or their habitats. One of their nemeses is a reporter seeking sensationalist stories who deliberately spreads misinformation about the wildlife the Nekton family come into contact with, often putting innocent animals in danger.