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Earth Day: Inspiring Tales to Save Our Planet

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Earth Day: Inspiring Tales to Save Our Planet

earth day blog post

Earth Day, first celebrated in 1970, is a day when we honor our planet and remind ourselves of the importance of protecting and healing it now and for all the generations to come. Here is a selection of children’s and young adult books that share powerful messages about saving our environment. Find these and many more on our shelves! (descriptions taken from the publisher)

saving american beach

Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch, by Heidi Tyline King

MaVynee loved going to the beach. But in the days of Jim Crow, she couldn’t just go to any beach – most of the beaches in Jacksonville were for whites only. Knowing something must be done, her grandfather bought a beach that African American families could enjoy without being reminded they were second class citizens; he called it American Beach. Artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Ray Charles vacationed on its sunny shores. It’s here that MaVynee was first inspired to sing, propelling her to later become a widely acclaimed opera singer who routinely performed on an international stage. But her first love would always be American Beach.

After the Civil Rights Act desegregated public places, there was no longer a need for a place like American Beach and it slowly fell into disrepair. MaVynee remembered the importance of American Beach to her family and so many others, so she began her second act as an activist and conservationist, ultimately saving the place that had always felt most like home.

my life at the bottom

My Life at the Bottom: The Story of a Lonesome Axolotl, by Linda Bondestam

From award-winning Nordic author and illustrator Linda Bondestam comes a new kind of climate change story, narrated by an adorable axolotl who is possibly the last of its kind.

At the bottom of a lake in Mexico City, our axolotl narrator goes to underwater school, collects treasures tossed away by the big lugs on land, and has dance parties with tiger salamander friends. Life is good!

But as the world gets hotter and hotter, the water gets murkier. Friends become harder to find, and the lonesome axolotl grows even lonelier. Until one day when, out of the blue, a colossal wave carries the axolotl into a surprising new future….

to change a planet

To Change a Planet, by Christina Soontornvat

Spare, poetic text and breathtaking pictures invite readers on a stirring journey that gently illuminates the causes of climate change as well as how our individual and collective actions can make the world better.

With calm, truthfulness, and beauty, To Change a Planet demonstrates the importance of caring for our planet. Eye popping explosions of color on every page create a stunning visual narrative that invites readers to find and follow the same characters through their daily lives and ultimately to a climate march on Washington, where their storylines converge.

Clear endnotes vetted by a climate expert answer a myriad of questions in simple language. Meticulously researched and brimming with hope and hands-on solutions that will edify and empower even the youngest readers, To Change a Planet is a loving ode to our only home and vital for every child, classroom, and family.

the last beekeeper

The Last Beekeeper, by Pablo Cartaya

In a future shaken by climate disasters, Yolanda Cicerón knows that nature is something to be feared. While life in the Valley is brutal and harsh, Yoly dreams of leaving her farm to live in Silo – the most advanced town for miles around. But first, Yoly will need to prove she belongs in a place where only the smartest and most useful are welcomed.

As she cracks long-guarded secrets, Yoly, along with those closest to her, is put in grave peril and the only chance of surviving may lie in the rediscovery of a long-extinct species – the honeybee. Can the last surviving beehive be the key to pulling the Valley out from under Silo’s thumb, or will they destroy what remains of Yoly’s future?

haven jacobs

Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet, by Barbara Dee

Twelve-year-old Haven Jacobs can’t stop thinking about the climate crisis. In fact, her anxiety about the state of the planet is starting to interfere with her schoolwork, her friendships, even her sleep. She can’t stop wondering why grownups aren’t even trying to solve the earth’s problem–and if there’s anything meaningful that she, as a seventh grader, can contribute.

When Haven’s social studies teacher urges her to find a specific, manageable way to make a difference to the planet, Haven focuses on the annual science class project at the local Belmont River, where her class will take samples of the water to analyze. Students have been doing the project for years, and her older brother tells her that his favorite part was studying and catching frogs.

But when Haven and her classmates get to the river, there’s no sign of frogs or other wildlife – but there is ample evidence of pollution. The only thing that’s changed by the river is the opening of Gemba, the new factory where Haven’s dad works. It doesn’t take much investigation before Haven is convinced Gemba is behind the slow pollution of the river.

She’s determined to expose Gemba and force them to clean up their act. But when it becomes clear taking action might put her dad’s job–and some friendships–in jeopardy, Haven must decide how far she’s willing to go.

willodeen

Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate

Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests, even monsters, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature.

Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why.

When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she’s determined to speak up for the animals she loves, and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.

a snake falls to earth

A Snake Falls to Earth, by Darcie Little Badger

Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories.

Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake.

Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries.

And there are some who will kill to keep them apart.

war girls

War Girls, by Tochi Onyebuchi

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

jelly

Jelly, by Clare Rees

The biggest problem with being trapped on a jellyfish isn’t what you’d expect. You get over the fear of death (because you start looking forward to it) and the smell of fish (because it quickly becomes your breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Boredom is an issue, sure, but it’s not the main one; the biggest problem is not being able to get away from everyone.

Martha is stuck on the back of the jellyfish and has been for a long time. She and everyone else living there don’t know how exactly they got there or how long they’ve been there or where they’re going – they just remember that something traumatic happened. And they can’t escape.

But now, the crew has finally had enough. They’re going to escape the jellyfish – or die trying. (Which probably means dying.) Funny, strange, and completely original, Jelly is an unforgettable young adult debut.

Happy reading!

Melanie Bruchet, Youth Services Librarian

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