Good Trouble: Environmental Activism

Earth Day takes place annually on April 22.  We’ve created many Earth Day related blog posts, reading lists and activities over the past several years and I urge you to look through them for some great ideas and great reads. Below find some reads related to the formation of Earth Day and climate and environmental activism.


The Day the River Caught Fire: How the Cuyahoga River Exploded and Ignited the Earth Day Movement by Barry Wittenstein, art by Jessie Hartland
Library Catalog

A shockingly true story about how on a day in the summer of 1969 the Cuyahoga River suddenly burst into flames due to its extreme amount of pollution.  And it wasn’t the first time!  And it wasn’t the only river, as rivers around the country were catching on fire from the toxic waste dumped into them by factories since the Industrial Revolution.  Finally, however, people took to the streets and organized in support of the environment, which led to new laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and the establishment of Earth Day on April 22, 1970.  Earth Day has since become a national event to speak out, spread awareness, and remind people that we have only one Earth, one home, and it needs to be taken care of.

Our House is on Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet by Jeanette Winter
Library Catalog

The second Good Trouble was all about young activist Greta Thunberg.  Winter’s look at Thunberg’s life is another powerful portrait of how a young person can make a huge difference upon the world. The book does a wonderful job of portraying Thunberg’s isolation, how alone she was as a young child, and contrasting it with the eco-movement she spearheads as others join her.  Winter’s use of full page spreads of giant words is particularly impactful on the reader and calls us to join Thunberg’s mission:


A Kids Book About: Climate Change by Zanagee Artis and Olivia Greenspan
Library Catalog

This entry in the fantastic A Kids book About series tackles the topic of climate change with two young activists, Artis and Greenspan.  Bold graphics, easy to understand text that doesn’t talk down to kids, and authoritative authors are a hallmark of the series and Climate Change doesn’t diverge from the successful formula.  Kids will get a great introduction to the problem of climate change, its impact on the world, and the current state of things.  It closes with a call to action, that the world needs the reader to take part in fighting climate change.

Earth Squad: 50 People Who Are Saving the Planet by Alexandra Zissu, art by Nhung Lê
Library Catalog

While the biographies are not long, the opportunity to discover so many individuals working against climate change and to make the world a better place is a highlight of this book.  A fantastic starting point to learn about eco-activists and conservationists.

Why “Good Trouble”?

Among many important things, civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis was famous for using the term “good trouble” when speaking on fighting against injustice in this country. This blog series will highlight books in our collection that might inspire you towards activism or provide you some ways to cause some “good trouble” fighting against societal injustices.

“Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”

“What can you do to get into good trouble? There is a light inside of you that will turn on when you get into good trouble. You will feel emboldened and freed. You will realize that unjust laws cannot stop you. These laws cannot stop the truth that is in your heart and soul.”

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

– John Lewis

Note: If you are interested in learning more about the life of  John Lewis, I highly recommend the March trilogy of graphic novels.
Categories: Authors & Books, Featured, Homepage Kids, and Library News.

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