Teaching children about pollution in the air, water, and land is essential since we know that pollution negatively impacts our environment and wildlife. These children’s picture books are a good place to start as you introduce what pollution is and what actions we can take to stop introducing harmful materials into the environment.
I will continue adding to this list when I find more books for kids about this important topic.
Children’s Books About Pollution
The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord, illustrated by Julia Blattman
Don’t miss this beautiful cumulative story about ocean pollution beginning by first showing us all the problems we’ve made polluting the ocean, then focusing on how we can clean up the mess. Lyrical and rhythmic with vibrant, painty blue-hued illustrations, this will be a helpful addition to classrooms and home studies of the ocean and pollution. “But…we are the ones who can save the day, reduce our waste at work and at play, recycle the plastic thrown away, to shrink the landfill without delay,…”
Lobstah Gahden by Ali Brydon & EG Keller, illustrated by EG Keller
Puns galore plus Boston accents give this playful book plenty of character along with its valuable message about pollution. Two lobsters compete with each other to have the best garden but both gardens are ruined by trash. Instead of competing, they help each other out with the clean-up. Then the write the sailer a letter — “enuf wit’ tha GAHBAGE!” Back matter pages share information on Lobstahs and Undah-watah Life as well as how you can help the ocean.
Alba and the Ocean Cleanup by Lara Hawthorne
Alba is a little fish who on one birthday, discovers that the ocean floor below her reef is no longer full of beautiful objects but full of garbage instead. Even worse, she gets stuck inside a plastic bottle. Luckily, a girl finds her and rescues her from inside the bottle. The girl, Kaia, asks other humans to help her clean up the polluted water so Alba’s home can be beautiful again. Colorful, engaging illustrations.
Ducks Overboard: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans by Markus Motum
Narrated in a first-person point of view, a yellow rubber duck on a boat gets swept overboard in a terrible storm along with thousands of other rubber ducks. As the ducks drift on the ocean in currents in different directions and towards different areas of the world, this introduces children to both sea currents and the problem of pollution. Good back matter explains information further.
The Blue Giant by Katie Cottle
While at the beach, the ocean emerges to speak to Coral and her mom, asking for their help. They travel underwater and see the amount of pollution. Back on the beach, they pick up litter. Each day they’re joined by more people who help to pick up the trash. A simple introduction to pollution in the ocean and what we can do about it.
Little Turtle and the Changing Sea by Becky Davies, illustrated by Jennie Poh
An important message about keeping the oceans clean! The ocean is Little Turtle’s friend. She returns to the beach where she’d been born, noticing new signs and friends, until one trip, the ocean isn’t as colorful nor does it feel like a friend. Even worse, she gets trapped in plastic garbage until two humans come along to help her and to clean up the trash. Little Turtle rejoices when the ocean is beautiful once more.
Better than New Mejor Que Nuevo by Robert Broder, illustrated by Lake Buckley
At the ocean, Isidora and Julian help a sea lion trapped in an underwater net. After this, they ponder how to help all the other ocean animals and find inspiration in a bird’s nest. They decide to pick up abandoned fishing nets which they will then recycle into fabric for clothing. Bilingual in English and Spanish.
Oil by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
This is the unflinching story of a real oil spill in the ocean that killed wildlife like sea otters and sea birds. Even though many people tried to help, the oil spread and spread. It’s an illuminating, honest look showing the devastation of pollution.
Plasticus Maritimus An Invasive Species by Ana Pego Bernardo P. Carvalho Isabel Minhos Martins
First, this book sets the stage with information on the importance of oceans and then continues with the types of plastics in the ocean as well as what we can and need to do about it. Exceptional writing, beautiful illustrations, and helpful information.
What a Waste: Rubbish, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet by Jess French
Illustrations, diagrams, and information give readers knowledge about the environment, pollution, renewable energy, and recycling.
We Are the Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
Amazingly beautiful illustrations! Narrated from the point of view of Indigenous Peoples, a black snake threatens the Earth’s water with poison. “We are the stewards of the Earth,” rallies the narrator continuing with a pro-Earth stance to fight for the plants and animals who can’t fight for themselves.