Here’s an initial selection of books with environmental themes suitable for primary education that has been put together by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education CLPE.
The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
Simon and Schuster 9781471115684
Noi lives a self-sufficient life with his dad by the sea in an isolated home reminiscent of the fishing huts at Hastings. One day he finds a little whale washed up on the sand and takes tender care of it until his dad persuades him that they need to return it to its aquatic home. The picture where they do this is especially striking. Two small figures are side by side clad in yellow coats and sou’westers in a tiny fishing boat on a wide and choppy sea, with the whale’s tail seemingly waving farewell to them. Benji Davies’ colour palette, with its emphasis on blue and yellow, is used to pleasing effect whether he is portraying the vistas of the sea and the shore or the detail of the home environment shared with affectionate co-operation between Noi and his dad
The Green Line by Polly Farquharson
Frances Lincoln 9781847802590
A green line follows a swirling, whirling path through a walk in the park from a child’s point of view. The details highlighted in Polly Farquharson’s photographs are those intriguing to young children – seeing raindrops wobbling on grass and plopping into puddles and ladybirds on leaves. Other senses are not neglected – raindrops patter on leaves, and the line follows a ‘tickly path’ where ‘the flowers were even taller than me!’ A book which encourages observation of the natural world.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh
This book raises important matters for this generation in a simple and non didactic way. As the pages are turned, they transform to reveal ten things that everyone can easily do at least one of so as to help conserve the world. Many of them, such as turning off the television properly, walking to school and turning off lights when leaving a room, are about conserving energy. Others, such as feeding the birds in winter and growing plants from seed, encourage an understanding of nature and conservation.
Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux
A beautiful forest stands by the edge of the sea with trees strikingly illustrated using collage techniques in green, orange and yellow hues. Who lives in the forest? If we look carefully we can find an elephant, a snake and a parrot hidden amongst the foliage. But, almost imperceptibly at first, change is coming. How will the animals cope with the erosion of their environment? Barroux was inspired by the format of the Where’s Wally? books to create this thoughtful wordless picture book about deforestation in the Amazon which, despite its serious message, has comical and hopeful elements
The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes
Flying Eye 9781909263437
Emily Hughes depicts a garden in shades of green and brown, and inside it she places a tiny gardener who makes strenuous efforts to nurture the plants and make them grow. The garden provides him with shelter and nourishment and ‘It was his joy.’ Sometimes he despairs of coping with it all. However, hope is at hand as one flower blossoms and is noticed by someone who can help him. Emily Hughes uses an earthy palette redolent of loam for her illustrations which are accompanied by an uncomplicated and repetitive text, supportive for young readers who can keep returning to appreciate its message more deeply.
The Wild Woods by Simon James
Jess sees a red squirrel whilst walking in the woods with her grandfather, chases it over the gate and across the stream – because she wants to take it home. Grandad follows – protesting and suffering mishaps only observable in the witty pictures. Grandad’s wisdom prevails and Jess acknowledges that the squirrel belongs in the wild.
Sally and the Limpet by Simon James
Like Jess in The Wild Woods Sally also learns that most creatures need to remain in a suitable environment in order to survive when a limpet transfers from a seaside rock to the end of her finger. The story that unfolds is a gentle comedy humorously highlighted in the expressions on Sally’s face.
Dear Greenpeace by Simon James Walker 9781406308488
Emily exchanges a series of letters with the people at Greenpeace, seeking advice about the whale which has appeared in her garden pond. They send her lots of information but keep insisting that the creature in her pond cannot possibly be a whale. Who is right?
George Saves the World by Lunchtime by Jo Readman and Ley Honor Roberts
Eden Project 9781903919507
George’s Grandpa shows him how he can be a real superhero and save the world by putting into practice the four Rs – reduce, re-use, repair, recycle. The collage pictures incorporating photos show them having fun sorting out clothes for the charity shop, smashing bottles at the recycling centre and visiting a farmers’ market.
The Great Big Green Book by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
Frances Lincoln 9781847804457
A companion to the same author and illustrator’s books about families and feelings, this book takes an accessible and good humoured look at the environmental concerns facing our planet and what humans need to do to address these on an individual and collective basis. Ros Asquith’s cartoon style illustrations add a more personal dimension and depict a diverse range of people.
Dinosaurs & All That Rubbish by Michael Foreman
A book with a large theme, an ecological fable whose central message is that the planet is home for all those who inhabit it and that all have a responsibility for its future. The language is simple and direct and the warmth of the pictures, in particular those depicting the kindly, caring dinosaurs, contribute enormously to making this a hopeful story
Window by Jeannie Baker
A wordless picture book which could provoke much discussion about the effects of humanity on the environment. A view from the same window is seen over a period of twenty years, as a newborn child grows to adulthood, to show the changes that take place. The collage illustrations are almost tactile.