Climate change is big news, and it’s becoming apparent that making small changes to the way we live now, could be amplified, to have an even greater effect in 10 or 20 years time.
With this in mind, The Reading Agency chose the theme – ‘Wild World Heroes’ for the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge. With ideas from World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the Challenge focuses on encouraging children to learn about real-world environmental issues, from plastic pollution and deforestation to wildlife decline and nature loss.
We have created a very special collection of books for ‘Earth Heroes’ to help children learn about the environment and nature, through stories, information on real-life climate heroes or simple, but effective actions they can take to make a difference right now.
If your child hasn’t signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge yet there’s still time. Participating children, who visit their local library, will receive a special collector’s poster and stickers when they read books – on any theme or topic. Children who finish the challenge can collect a certificate and medal from their local library too! For more information and to sign-up online please visit our Kids’ Zone website.
We will follow this collection with another selection of digital titles for older children and teenagers and a collection of books for adults, which will be released to coincide with the COP26 UN Climate Conference this autumn.
Story books (fiction)
The Last Bear, by Hannah Gold, with illustrations by Levi Pinfold
There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to this remote Arctic outpost for six months. But one endless summer night, April meets one. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life…
“This is an important first novel, important for us, for polar bears, for the planet. It is deeply moving, beautifully told, quite unforgettable.” Michael Morpurgo.
Jungledrop, by Abi Elphinstone
Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember, but when they are whisked off to’ Jungledrop’, a magical unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand.
Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples as they race to find the long-lost Forever Fern and save the world.
A Good Day for Climbing Trees by Jaro Jacobs
Marnus is tired of feeling invisible, living in the shadow of his two brothers. His older brother is good at breaking swimming records and girls’ hearts. His younger brother is already a crafty entrepreneur who has tricked him into doing the dishes all summer.
But when a girl called Leila turns up on their doorstep one morning with a petition, it’s the start of an unexpected adventure. And finally, Marnus gets the chance to be noticed…
Nominated for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal Spectator Best Books of the Year selection
Hope Jones Saves the World by Josh Lacey
Hope Jones’ New Year’s resolution is to give up plastic, and she’s inspiring others to do the same with her website. When she realises her local supermarket seems to stock more unnecessary plastic than food, she makes it her mission to do something about it. She may be just one ten-year-old with a homemade banner, but with enough determination, maybe Hope Jones really can save the world.
The Bear in the Stars by Alexis Snell
There was once a bear, a great, white bear – Queen of Beasts. Her kingdom was a beautiful, cold, glistening place. But over the years the ice disappeared, slipping away like sand through an hourglass. Slowly, slowly, one by one, the other animals moved on. The Great Bear has no choice but to leave her snowy realm to search for food, friends and a new home. She soon discovers a world that is growing hotter whilst hearts grow colder – until one small act of kindness changes everything.
A boy lives in a remote, snow-bound village with his elderly grandmother. Their traditional way of life is threatened by the changing snow and ice: it melts faster every year. When the sea-ice collapses while he is out hunting, he only just escapes with his life and is left stranded in the Arctic tundra.
Meanwhile a girl is trying to adapt to another new school. Her father promises his new job at an oil company will mean they never have to move again, but not long after he starts, his behaviour becomes odd and secretive. When their fates take a drastic turn the girl’s world collides with the boy’s and they find themselves together in a desperate search for survival, and for the truth.
Earth Friends, Fair Fashion by Holly Webb
Researching her school project on Fairtrade has been a real eye-opener for Maya. She loves clothes and is appalled to find that her favourite sparkly T-shirts are made by children in other countries who lead very different lives from her own. She knows she must do something about it, but how can she make a difference without revealing her pop star secret to the world?
Burning Sunlight by Anthea Simmons
Zaynab is from Somaliland, a country that doesn’t exist because of politics and may soon be no more than a desert. Lucas is from rural Devon, which might as well be a world away. When they meet, they discover a common cause: the climate crisis.
Together they overcome their differences to build a ‘Fridays For Future’ group at their school and fight for their right to protest and make a real impact on the local community. But when Zaynab uncovers a plot which could destroy the environment and people’s lives back home in Somaliland, she will stop at nothing to expose it. Lucas must decide if he is with her or against her – even if Zaynab’s actions may prove dangerous…
Wick has always lived in the dark and dreadful Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage, working tirelessly for greedy Old Ma Bogey. He only dreams of escaping, until one day a bird drops something impossible and magical at his feet – a tiny baby in an acorn cradle…
As midnight chimes, Wick is visited by the Hobs, miniature protectors of the forest. Grateful for the kindness shown to their stolen child, they offer Wick the chance of a lifetime – escape from Harklights and begin a new life with them in the wild…
Information books (non-fiction)
Climate change is happening, now. But it’s not too late to change the story. Meet the people, who are fighting to save our planet. Featuring 25 hopeful stories including Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, Wangari.
This book will transport you from the poles to the oceans, to the rainforests. These are true stories to make you think, make you cry, make you hope – and these are stories to make us all stand together and protect our home.
David Attenborough – Sanchez Vegara & Maria Isabel
His passion for animals led David Attenborough into a career in television, visiting animals in their natural habitats and sharing their untold stories with the world. This moving, illustrated book about his life features includes a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the broadcaster’s life.
Little People, BIG DREAMS is a bestselling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.
Helping our planet – Jane Bingham
Caring for the Earth is the biggest challenge facing us all today, but what can YOU do to help? This practical, hands-on guide is filled with helpful checklists of actions to take and choices to make in your daily life. There are chapters on planet-friendly eating, shopping and travelling, and on ways to save energy and cut down on waste. There’s also clear advice on getting drastic about plastic, and taking better care of the natural world, and links to recommended websites with more information.
Rebel Animals – Kimberlie Hamilton
Discover secrets, stories, and facts about the world’s most at-risk animals!
This beautifully illustrated collection tells the story of over 60 real-life courageous creatures. With incredible facts about animals from all seven continents and the oceans of the world.
This fascinating book includes information about animal conservation and climate change, making it an ideal read for those who love nature and animals and want to make a difference.
How You Can Save the Planet – Hendrikus van Hensbergen
YOU have the power to change the world! Climate breakdown, species extinction, environmental disasters – we know the planet is heating up and running out of time; but what can we do about it?
Lots of things actually like: building a green wall; making recycled bird feeders; rewilding; setting up a ‘swapshop’; organising cycling groups at school.. and so much more!
The Extraordinary Life of Greta Thunberg – Devika Jina
The story of a girl who is changing the world. Greta Thunberg is an activist best known for calling attention to the devastating effects of climate change on our planet. A bold voice even against people that want to silence her, Greta has become a source of inspiration for millions of people who want to work towards tackling the climate crisis.
From taking part in school strikes and owning that her Asperger syndrome is her superpower, to crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a powerful stand against carbon emissions, this is the incredible story of a schoolgirl who is changing the world.
Guardians of the Planet – Clive Gifford
This environmentally positive book contains everything children need to become guardians of the planet. Kids can learn how to become keepers of the coasts, friends of the forests, home heroes and much more through a mix of compelling facts, creative activities, and proactive tips.
Key environmental topics are clearly explained, and the easy-to-follow projects and suggestions help to put the issues in an everyday context. From reusing clothes and composting food to reducing water waste and giving wildlife a helping hand, this book will encourage children to engage with environmental problems and inspire them to take care of our wonderful planet.
Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth – Nicola Davies & Emily Sutton
Winner of the Margaret Mallett Picture Book Award, as part of the English 4-11 Picture Book Awards.
There are living things everywhere: the more we look, the more we find. There are creatures on the tops of the tallest jungle trees, at the bottom of the coldest oceans, even under the feathers of birds and in boiling volcanic pools. So how many different kinds are there? One, two, three … lots Lots, a beautifully illustrated introduction to the concept of biodiversity for younger readers. With words from Nicola Davies and exquisite artwork by Emily Sutton, this ground-breaking book is certain to enchant and inspire children.
Drastic Plastic and Troublesome Trash – Hannah Wilson
Most of us don’t think twice before we buy something new and when we go to the shops we take the packaging for granted. But where does all our rubbish go to and how can we keep it under control so that it doesn’t ruin our planet?
This thoughtful but incredibly fun book enters the mysterious world of recycling, discovering how materials such as plastic, glass, paper and electronics are made and recycled. It also looks at the many ways we can help to reduce the amount of waste we throw out, has suggestions and activities for upcycling and explains how recycling is crucial to preserving the beautiful and life-sustaining world we live in.
The Lost Spells – Robert MacFarlane
The Lost Spells is a pocket-sized treasure that introduces a beautiful new set of natural spell-poems and artwork by beloved creative duo Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.
As in The Lost Words, these “spells” take their subjects from relatively commonplace, and yet underappreciated, animals, birds, trees and flowers — from Barn Owl to Red Fox, Grey Seal to Silver Birch, Jay to Jackdaw. Written to be read aloud, The Lost Spells summons back what is often lost from sight and care and inspires protection and action on behalf of the natural world.
When faced with climate change, the biggest threat that our planet has ever confronted, it’s easy to feel as if nothing you do can really make a difference . . . but this book proves that individual people can change the world.
With twenty inspirational stories celebrating the pioneering work of a selection of Earth Heroes from all around the globe, from Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to Yin Yuzhen and Isatou Ceesay, each tale is a beacon of hope in the fight for the future of our planet, proving that one person, no matter how small, can make a difference.