Earth First | Environmentalism Series Nonfiction

These spring 2020 selections on topics like sustainability, environmental conservation, and global warming will elevate critical scientific discussions in the classroom as well as at home.


In our current misinformation culture, educators are charged with guiding students to the most reliable and up-to-date scientific sources amid an ocean of fake science, unreliable commentary, and outright bias. A 2016 Stanford study surveyed over 7,000 middle school, high school, and college undergraduates to test their news literacy. Researchers concluded that the students’ ability to tell fact from fiction could be summed up in one word: bleak. However, teachers and librarians know that the young people they serve are capable of much more than they’re given credit for. This season’s selections on topics like sustainability, environmental conservation, and global warming will elevate critical scientific discussions in the classroom as well as at home.


Boothroyd, Jennifer. Be Water-Wise, Super Grover! ISBN 9781541572591.
––––. Fight Pollution, Big Bird! ISBN 9781541572614.
––––. Save Energy, Bert and Ernie! ISBN 9781541572577.
Lindeen, Mary. It’s Earth Day, Cookie ­Monster! ISBN 9781541572607.
––––. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, ­Oscar! ISBN 9781541572621.
––––. Trash That Trash, Elmo and Abby! ISBN 9781541572584.
ea vol: 32p. (Go Green with Sesame Street). Lerner. Jan. 2020. Tr. $27.99. pap. $7.99.
PreS-Gr 2 –This series makes learning about sustainability a fun endeavor and features a familiar cast of characters. Elmo and Abby explain where their trash goes, Big Bird finds simple ways to fight pollution, and Oscar the Grouch convinces readers to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Easy-to-follow explanations (the importance of only flushing certain things down the toilet; the benefit of conserving water while doing common activities like ­brushing teeth) are provided alongside full-page illustrations and color photographs of actual cleanup efforts. The visual representations of ethnic, racial, and ability diversity are a notable component, and the simple text makes this series accessible to readers as young as age four. ­ VERDICT A great series that is ideal for any early learning collection.


Free, Katie. Animals in Danger. ISBN 9780531130759.
Grunbaum, Mara. The Greenhouse Effect. ISBN 9780531130766.
Hamalainen, Karina. Extreme Weather and Rising Seas. ISBN 9780531130773.
McDaniel, Melissa. Facing a Warmer World. ISBN 9780531130780.
ea vol: 48p. (A True Book: Understanding Climate Change). Scholastic/Children’s Pr. Feb. 2020. Tr. $31. pap. $7.95.
Gr 3-5 –This comprehensive four-part series focuses on the causes and effects of climate change. Divided into sections, the volumes explain the specific consequences of animal displacement, the adverse effects of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere and water quality, the evolution of major climate and weather disruptions over time, and more. The Greenhouse Effect outlines the history of industrial development and its impact on current climate conditions and also the economic and political implications for the past and present. Full-page photographs are complemented by easy-to-read blocks of text, including boldface words that might be unfamiliar to the reader. Those words, as well as other concepts, are defined in the back matter of each volume. An index and comprehension quizzes are included to ensure retention. ­VERDICT This series offers an up-to-date look at the effects of climate change and is a strong choice for any size collection.


Hamby, Rachel. Restoring the Great Barrier Reef. ISBN 9781644930694.
––––. Saving the Oceans from Plastic. ISBN 9781644930717.
McClanahan, Ben. Restoring the Great Lakes. ISBN 9781644930700.
Vonder Brink, Tracy. Protecting the Amazon Rainforest. ISBN 9781644930687.
ea vol: 32p. (Saving Earth’s Biomes). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2020. Tr. $28.50. pap. $9.95.
Gr 4-7 –The world’s most important biomes and the environmental threats they face are explored in this colorful series. Each of the four biomes has its own volume and features full-page, high-resolution photographs and infographics that provide lesser-known facts about these delicate and endangered ecosystems. This series contains current information; for example, in Restoring the Great Barrier Reef, Greta Thunberg is highlighted as an effective activist. Her inclusion will spark timely conversations that reflect what kids are seeing in the news. Learners will expand their reading comprehension thanks to the quiz at the end of each chapter, and infographics and simple maps provide context without being overwhelming. Boldface words with a glossary, an index, and suggestions for further reading are also included. VERDICT This series, ideal for smaller early to middle grade collections, offers an introduction to endangered biomes and ways to save them.

Kaminski, Leah. Discover Chesapeake Bay. ISBN 9781534159556.
––––. Discover Grand Traverse Bay. ISBN 9781534159594.
––––. Discover Massachusetts Bay. ISBN 9781534159570.
––––. Discover Resurrection Bay. ISBN 9781534159617.
Weber, M. Discover Apalachicola Bay. ISBN 9781534159624.
––––. Discover Galveston Bay. ISBN 9781534159587.
––––. Discover Monterey Bay. ISBN 9781534159600.
––––. Discover San Francisco Bay. ISBN 9781534159563.
ea vol: 32p. (Learn About Earth’s Systems: Bays). Cherry Lake. Jan. 2020. Tr. $29.93. pap. $14.21.
Gr 3-8 –Middle grade readers will love this series focusing exclusively on major bays throughout the United States, including recognizable bays (Massachusetts Bay, San Francisco Bay) as well as those that might be less familiar (Apalachicola Bay and Grand Traverse Bay). These comprehensive volumes are divided into five chapters that focus on each bay’s geographic, environmental, historic, and ecosystemic elements. Their contributions to their local economies and the environmental threats caused by human intervention are covered. New vocabulary, like estuaries and tributaries, floodplain, and geosphere, are defined in a glossary. An exercise that asks readers to pretend they are a loggerhead sea turtle will encourage engagement. Bonus: Future activists will love the short passage in the back of each book that provides practical tips on how they can be environmental advocates. VERDICT This series, containing colorful photographs and rich information, champions bays as some of our most important environmental resources. Ideal for larger collections.

Twiddy, Robin. Fossil Fuel Frenzy! ISBN 9781538252925.
––––. Nuclear Nightmare! ISBN 9781538252956.
––––. Plastic Panic! ISBN 9781538252987.
––––. Toxic Terror! ISBN 9781538253014.
ea vol: 32p. (Polluted Planet). Rosen/Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2020. Tr. $26.60. pap. $10.50.
Gr 4-6 –Written as clever apocalyptic tales in a graphic novel format, this series is intended for striving nonfiction readers in the middle grades. Four volumes focus on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, plastic pollution, and toxic chemicals in the soil, air, and water. Each book is divided into about 10 short chapters that highlight a variety of environmental issues. A sense of urgency is conveyed through fictional predictions of global destruction and mass extinction. Readers are prompted to consider how close we might be to such an outcome; it will inspire them to make changes. Readers who love adventure fiction will be excited by this series where, at the end of each book, they’re challenged to choose from outcomes like moving to space or living on a different planet. VERDICT This hi-lo series will excite readers who also love adventure fiction and would be a great choice for a school library collection.

The series listed above have plenty to offer school and public libraries of all sizes. "Polluted Planet" (Rosen/Gareth Stevens) stands out this season: The graphic novel format will appeal to comic book lovers who are also interested in science. Early elementary readers will love seeing familiar faces in "Go Green with Sesame Street" (Lerner). They will also appreciate the easy-to-follow text. "Learn About Earth’s Systems: Bays" (Cherry Lake) fills the gap for collections that need a refresh and remains relevant to students’ research needs. These comprehensive choices will allow readers to differentiate facts from fake science, while gaining essential critical thinking skills and developing information fluency.

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