Happy Earth Day! Award-winning author S.R. Johaness has provided Hypable with a fantastic list of books with environmental themes for Earth Day.
S.R. Johannes is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling Nature of Grace thriller series (Untraceable, Uncontrollable, and Unstoppable). Since leaving Corporate America, she has followed her passion for writing and conservation by working with The Dolphin Project, the Atlanta Zoo, other animal rescue organizations, and by weaving conservation themes into her books.
Environmental themes in YA by S.R. Johaness
Environmental themes in YA can help young readers to feel a better connection to nature and inspire them to get involved with the environment. This is extremely important in today’s world, where nature is always competing for shelf-space with futuristic themes and a constantly updated stream of technology.
Nature is a part of everything around us and helps to make us who we are, and having that relationship reflected in YA books is a wonderful way to promote environmental awareness.
So what are a few environmental themes that we see in teen books?
Celebrating the beauty of nature
A lot of teen books show the beauty of nature in various ways, by allowing their protagonist to enjoy nature and spend time outdoors. Regardless of the series, you can probably find a scene in most books that shows the main character enjoying some aspect of nature, and this helps to garner a respect for the environment in young readers.
One example is Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. In this book, you get to understand and appreciate the Everglades.
Being a survivalist
Whether it’s a thriller or mystery novel, chances are the protagonist is going to come up against some sort of natural element that stands in their way. So, YA readers will learn a little more about the environment as they read, as well as gain some useful survival skills along the way.
Examples include: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry, Bear Island by Paul Greci
Relationship between nature and people
This is a big one. The relationship between nature and people is deep-rooted and beautiful, and can be seen in many YA novels today. Whether its plot’s based on the elements or a protagonist who can control the weather, the YA market is filled with books that demonstrate a love and connection to the environment. This makes nature fun and thrilling, something that young readers can have fun with and enjoy.
An example is the Nature of Grace series by S.R. Johannes that discusses issues surrounding the black bears and red wolves of North Carolina and the Florida panthers in the Everglades.
A clear message about the impact on Earth
How we impact Earth matters, and this theme is present in a lot of YA. It is important for teens to know they can make a difference in conservation. Two examples include Eliot Schrefer’s books, Endangered and Threatened.
Ways to ‘Go Green’
Possibly one of the most important environmental themes in YA is how to go green! Going green can help save the environment from harm by encouraging people to recycle, not to litter, and to help endangered species by using care and precaution when in nature. Numerous YA books prompt young readers to go green and give them the tools to do so, which is an awesome step in environmental awareness! One example is Teens Go Green!: Tips, Techniques, Tools, and Themes for YA Programming.
Check out these classics and more recent books with eco-themes
If you are looking to share these themes with children of any age, consider the following classic books.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstien
The Lorax by Dr. Suess
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
The Fire Bug Collection
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Nature of Grace series (Untraceable, Uncontrollable, Unstoppable) by S.R. Johannes
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Hoot series by Carl Hiaasen
Book of Three – City of Embers series by Jeanne DuPrau
Endangered and Threatened by Eliot Schrefer
The Dark Life and RipTide by Kat Falls
Environmental themes have always been present in children’s books. But in YA today, they are becoming more prominent because they address real issues teens are beginning to face.
Make sure to look for these themes while you’re reading, and keep nature a part of your daily life.
Happy Earth Day!
About S.R. Johaness
S.R. Johannes is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling Nature of Grace thriller series (Untraceable, Uncontrollable, and Unstoppable).
S.R. Johannes is a winner of the IndieReader Discovery Award in YA, an IPPY a Silver Medalist for YA Fiction, a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Young Adult Fiction, and a Finalist in US Book News Best YA Book.
Since leaving Corporate America, she has followed her passion for writing and conservation by working with The Dolphin Project, the Atlanta Zoo, other animal rescue organizations, and by weaving conservation themes into her books.
She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, English-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes — someday — will change the world.