Children’s Books: Global Perspectives

The American media often highlights the role of the United States and Europe in stories about environmental activism. Books can paint a broader picture, showing how environmental heroes arise on every continent.

The six children’s books below tell true stories of people who tackled environmental problems through tree planting, recycling, and other concrete actions. These books are quick to read, but their stories span years—often decades. Most of the heroes of these stories faced resistance from their communities. Some doubted whether their efforts even mattered. But over time, their work helped hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably working hard to make the world a better place. But you might sometimes get discouraged. Next time you stop for a rest, consider reading about a boy in India who planted a forest—by himself. Or about a woman in Kenya who started a movement to plant 30 million trees. Or about a woman in the Gambia who turned piles of garbage into opportunity. These stories serve as reminders that environmental activism happens all over the world, and that hard, slow work really does change the world.

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadev Payeng by Sophia Gholz, illustrated by Kayla Harren

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter, illustrated by

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth, illustrated by Cindy Trumbore

One Plastic Bag: Isatau Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

I Am Farmer: Building an Environmental Movement in Cameroon by Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon