Books have the power to educate, entertain and enthrall. They can cause personal reflection, a change of thought, and a call to action.
In recognition of Waste Reduction Week in Canada and the need to protect our environment, teacher-librarians, library technicians and board staff from the Halton District School Board offer their suggestions for great books about reducing, reusing and recycling.
Teacher-Librarian Nicole Hamel at Alexander’s Public School recommended Michael Recycle and Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug by Ellie Bethel. “These books tell the adventures of a young superhero whose power allows him to teach others about recycling, especially Litterbug Doug. After cleaning up a town, the people declare: ‘To Michael Recycle! The green-caped crusader, our super-green hero, the planet’s new saviour!'”
“I recommend Mr. King’s Things by Genevieve Cote,” said Lynn Wisniewski, the Manager of Instructional Media for the Halton District School Board. “This is a picture book that is sure to entertain and educate our youngest students about the impacts of garbage. The book’s main character, Mr. King, likes to have new things; all of his old stuff gets tossed into the local pond. The pond monster frightens Mr. King into thinking of new ways to deal with his old belongings sending a clear message about the importance of recycling and reusing.”
Primary (grades 1 to 3) books
“I recommend Now We Know About Recycling written by Dr. Mike Goldsmith. This non-fiction book written for primary students gives an overview of why recycling helps the environment, what to do with old toys and clothes and how to reduce the amount that we throw away. The book is filled with photographs and talking points that lead to great discussions on the topic,” said Teacher-Librarian Tracy Bernier of Ryerson Public School.
Mark Cann, the Teacher-Librarian at Florence Meares Public School suggested The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by David Roberts. “In this book, we are introduced to Steve who uses his creativity and ingenuity to apply the 3Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Along with friends in the neighbourhood, Steve takes to diving into local dumpsters and reuses found items in amazing ways. When Steve hurts himself, the neighbourhood rallies and comes to Steve’s aid. The Dumpster Diver teaches us the importance of community, helping those in need and will have readers of all ages looking at trash in new and inspiring ways. As Steve says, ‘Junk is good.'”
“I recommend The Busy Beaver written by Nicholas Oldland. This picture book is about an industrious but careless beaver who, in his quest to be characteristically busy, devastates the forest and the habitat that it provides for his animal friends” said Teacher-Librarian Krista Clarke of Rolling Meadows Public School. “After a falling tree knocks some sense into him, he sees the error of his ways and works to restore the forest and his relationship with the other animals. This charming story teaches children how to treat others and their environment with respect and kindness.”
Nicole Hamel of Alexander’s Public School recommended The Trouble with Dragons by Debbie Gliori. “When dragons cut down too many trees, blow out too much hot air and do other environmental damage, the future looks grim, but other animals advise them on how to mend their ways and save the planet.”
Junior (grades 4 to 6) books
“I recommend reading National Geographic Kids Human Footprint: everything you will eat, use, wear, buy and throw out in your lifetime by Ellen Kirk. This is a fun book to get kids interested in our impact on the earth,” explained Linda Price, the Library Technician at John W. Boich Public School. “Each two page spread focuses on a different topic with photographs that illustrate the actual number of items each person uses in a lifetime. For example, the section on staying clean tells us how many bars of soap, bottles of shampoo, tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes each of us will use in a lifetime. Other topics covered include: candy bars, soda, clothing, cars, and diapers. Different text sizes and fonts highlight related facts and suggest ways we can help reduce our human footprint.”
Intermediate (grades 7 to 8) books
“My book suggestion for intermediate students is Garbage and Recycling edited by Cynthia A. Bily. This book is great for waste management-related projects because it reveals both sides of the garbage and recycling issue. Students can find out if recycling is effective, how much garbage is created, and how they can reduce the generation of plastic waste,” said Lynn Wisniewski of the Halton District School Board.
Secondary (grades 9 to 12) books
Teacher-Librarian Mary Collett of Oakville Trafalgar High School recommended The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet one Simple Step at a Time by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas Kostigan. “This reader-friendly book contains hundreds of small choices you can make to have a big impact on the health of our planet written by popular celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell and Justin Timberlake.”
“I also recommend Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making by Micaela Preston. This book takes the practical approach to creating a green and healthy home with an emphasis on sustainable living. It contains lots of helpful tips for DIY projects, buying smart, and healthy tasty recipes,” shared Mary Collett.
“The Little Book of Environmental Principles by Dr. Patrick Hook, takes 160 of the more complicated environmental principles, arranges them in alphabetical order for easy reference, and explains them in simple accessible language. It also features helpful diagrams and illustrations to help the reader understand the concepts covered,” stated Mary Collett.
Teacher-Librarian Sandra Rogers from Garth Webb Secondary School recommended Save the Humans written by Rob Stewart, creator of Sharkwater and Revolution. “In this book, Stewart not only relates his campaign to bring awareness to the environmental plight of all humans, but also relates how he overcame many obstacles in the making of Sharkwater. Part memoir, part guide for action, Stewart touches upon topics such as pollution, waste management and environmental stewardship. Engaging and entertaining, this book appeals to students in Grades 9-12.”
Whatever your grade, or whatever your age, a great book can inspire you to reduce waste, conserve resources, and recycle and compost more.