Earth Day Reading List

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

...And the story of the movement to save those forests is available to you through the Library's collection.

As scientists and authors have documented our changing planet, a canon of classics in environmentalism has emerged. More recent works are also worth exploring, especially as we celebrate Earth Day. Enjoy these titles in both categories.

—Jane R.


Compiled by:
Jane R.

Juvenile Fiction

The Lorax

Dr. Seuss
Children's Easy – Seu

The classic and cautionary tale that's educated young readers for generations about the importance of seeing the beauty in the world—and our responsibility to protect it.


The Age of Consequences: A Chronicle of Concern and Hope

John Courtney White
Adult Nonfiction – 338.927 Whi

The author, a former archaeologist, writes that we live in the "Age of Consequences," where the Earth’s resources are depleting at an unsustainable rate. What are effective and realistic solutions? Also a chronicle of the personal experience of an environmentalist and activist.

Cadillac Desert

Marc Reisner
Adult Nonfiction – 333.91 Rei

Widely considered to be the definitive work on the water crisis in the American West.



Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet

Julie Dunlap, Susan A. Cohen, eds.
Adult Nonfiction – 333.713 Com

A powerful anthology showcasing a new kind of environmental writing. Young writers who have grown up in an environmentally damaged and compromised world explore, in passionate voices, themes paramount to millennials but resonant with everyone: materialism, environmental justice, the risks and promises of technology, and a collective responsibility to do better.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

Dan Egan
Adult Nonfiction – 577.6309 Ega

The Great Lakes hold twenty percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. They're also under threat as never before. An urgent examination of what threatens this precious resource that's also a convincing call to arms detailing the relatively simple things we need to do to protect it.

Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future

David Grinspoon
Adult Nonfiction – 304.2 Gri

An astrobiologist suggests that the present moment is not only one of great environmental peril, but of great potential. Our challenge: to awaken to our role as a force of change as graceful planetary engineers, conscious shapers of our environment, and caretakers of Earth's biosphere. Which future do we want to avoid, and which do we seek to build?

Nature's Allies: Eight Conservationists Who Changed Our World

Larry A. Nielsen 
Adult Nonfiction – 920 Nie

These biographies of eight diverse conservation pioneers tell the story of people with little in common except their outspokenness in protecting various natural habitats. Inspirational reading for anyone wanting to follow in their footsteps.

The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World

Oliver Morton
Adult Nonfiction – 628 Mor

Morton explores the cutting-edge science of geoengineering and weighs the promise and perils of the controversial strategies of a small but influential group of scientists. Their proposals for planned human intervention in the climate system include a stratospheric veil against the sun and fleets of unmanned ships seeding the clouds.

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland

Miriam Horn
Adult Nonfiction – 333.7209 Hor

Many of the men and women doing today’s most consequential environmental work―restoring America’s grasslands, wildlife, soil, rivers, wetlands, and oceans―would not call themselves environmentalists. Unfolding as a journey down the Mississippi River, this book tells the stories of five representatives of the stewardship movement: a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi riverman, a Louisiana shrimper, and a Gulf fisherman.

A Sand County Almanac

Aldo Leopold
508.7755 Leo

One of the most influential books ever published about nature, and the challenge of protecting it.

Silent Spring

Rachel Carson
Adult Nonfiction – 363.7384 Car

The landmark study that sparked awareness of the dangers of pesticides and other common products. This book also inspired the environmental movement and led to the annual Earth Day observance on April 22.

Tipping Point for Planet Earth: How Close Are We to the Edge?

Anthony D. Barnosky, Elizabeth A. Hadly
Adult Nonfiction – 304.2 Bar

Explains why Earth is headed for a tipping point: a change so fast, dramatic, and unexpected that humanity will reel at the consequences. Also offers sensible solutions to our most pressing problems.

Tools for Grassroots Activists: Best Practices for Success in the Environmental Movement

Nora Gallagher, Lisa Myers, eds.
Adult Nonfiction – 333.72 Too

Intended to help you hone core skills like campaign and communication strategy, grassroots organizing, lobbying, working with business, fundraising in uncertain times, and using new technologies. Sprinkled throughout are inspirational thoughts from such acclaimed activists as Jane Goodall, Bill McKibben, Wade Davis, Annie Leonard and Terry Tempest Williams.


Henry David Thoreau
Adult Nonfiction – 818.31 Tho

The classic paean to the virtues of simplicity and self-sufficiency from the revered American philosopher.

The World Without Us

Alan Weisman
Adult Nonfiction – 304.2 Wei

The revelatory account of what would happen to planet Earth if the human presence were to be removed.