Environmental Summer Reading

Summer is an exciting time to explore the world around you. An easy way to do that is through books, especially ones about the environment! Join a local summer reading program to increase the fun with the chance of prizes. The adults in your household can play the Seattle Arts and Lectures Summer Book Bingo. Take a field trip with your family or friend to a local park, and read with a view!  Books of all kinds – fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, picture books, non-fiction, and others –can help us gain new perspectives on our world. Here are some suggestions for your summer reading on environmental themes.  Book descriptions are taken directly from the websites referenced.

Elementary School

miss-rumphiusMiss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, 1982

As a child, great-aunt Alice Rumphius resolved that when she grew up she would go to faraway places, live by the sea in her old age, and do something to make the world more beautiful–and she does all those things, the last being the most difficult of all. Ages 4-9.

Raven by Gerald McDermott, 2001

Raven, a Pacific Coast Indian trickster, sets out to find the sun. The physical environment, oral literature, and traditional life of the Pacific Coast Indians come alive in this amusing and well-conceived picture book. Ages 4-10.

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prevot, 2015Wangari

Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. This beautiful picture book tells the story of an amazing woman and an inspiring idea. Ages 7-10.

A North American Rain Forest Scrapbook by Virginia Wright-Frierson, 1999

Presented in the form of a scrapbook, this book describes the author’s exploration of a temperate rain forest in North America, located in Washington State, and the plants and animals she found there. Ages 7-11.

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, 1999

Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. Ages 9-12.

Middle School

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, 2002Hoot

In his first novel for a younger audience, Carl Hiaasen plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies–three middle school kids determined to beat the screwed-up adult system. Ages 10 and up.

NobodyParticularNobody Particular: One Woman’s Fight to Save the Bays by Molly Bang, 2000

Diane Wilson is an independent shrimper in Texas, where she ekes out a living in the same waters that her family has worked hard in for generations. When Diane learns that the chemical plants in Texas give out more pollution than in any other state, she decides to stop them. Told in graphic novel format. Ages 11 and up.


Sage Carrington, Eighth-Grade Science Sleuth by Justin Scott Parr, 2012SageCarringtonSleuth

Best friends Sage Carrington and Isabel Flores are making the most of their summer break when they discover an antique treasure map near the Washington Monument. But when faced with difficult clues and a bully in the form of Edwin Hooser, the tween girls must use every bit of imagination, drive, and intellect to outsmart Edwin and decipher the map. Ages 8-12.

High School

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd, 2009

In 2015, England becomes the first nation to introduce carbon dioxide rationing in a drastic bid to combat climate change, and sixteen-year-old Laura documents the first year of rationing as her family spirals out of control. Ages 13 and up.

How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet, 2008

T., a young developer with a reverence for money and the institutions of capital, has just fallen in love for the first time when his orderly, upwardly mobile life is thrown into chaos by the appearance of his unbalanced mother, who comes to live with him after his father’s sudden desertion. In the wake of a series of devastating losses, T. begins to nurture a curious obsession with vanishing species, and is soon breaking into zoos at night to be with animals that are the last of their kind. Adult fiction.

ShortHistoryOfEverythingA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, 2003

Bill Bryson is a popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language, and turns his attention to science. Although at first he doesn’t know anything about the subject, he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world’s leading experts, then explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant. Adult non-fiction.



Happy Tales to you! What are some of your favorite books about science and the environment?