Literature Connections to
Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect

Teacher's Guides > Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect

There are some excellent books available to help your students better understand the global warming dilemma, including scientific aspects of the problem, what we can do about it as individuals, and the ethical and moral dimensions of the problem.

These books, like GEMS activities, seek to help students comprehend differing points of view and consider ways to resolve conflicts and find solutions. Both the Global Warming and the Acid Rain GEMS units also endeavor to foster a sense of student empowerment in the face of environmental difficulty, and books like Kid Heroes of the Environment can certainly aid in that effort.

Several books are about deforestation and biological diversity—issues that are closely related to global warming. Others are science fiction that will help your students imagine what might happen in the future if our misuse of the environment goes unchecked.

The Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo: A Drama of Ecology
The Earth is Sore: Native Americans on Nature
The Endless Pavement
The Faces of Ceti
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
The Greenhouse Effect: Life on a Warmer Planet
Just A Dream
Kid Heroes of the Environment: Simple Things Real Kids Are Doing To Save the Earth
The Lorax
One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest
Restoring the Earth: How Americans Are Working to Renew Our Damaged Environment
Sweetwater
Who Really Killed Cock Robin?
Will We Miss Them?

The Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo: A Drama of Ecology
by Charlotte Pomerantz; illustrated by Jose Aruego
Young Scott Books/Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts. 1971
Out of print
Grades: 4–7
This cautionary verse, based on a true story, explores how spraying for mosquitoes in Borneo eventually affected the entire ecological system, from cockroaches, rats, cats, and geckoes to the river and the farmer. A good example of the interacting elements of an ecosystem. The strong, humorous text makes the book successful as a read-aloud or as a play to be performed. Could be accompanied by dramatic presentation of the “Global Warming” limericks featured in the GEMS guide.
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The Earth is Sore: Native Americans on Nature
adapted and illustrated by Aline Amon
Atheneum, New York. 1981
Out of print
Grades: 4–Adult
This collection of poems and songs by Native Americans celebrates the relationship between the Earth and all creatures and mourns abuse of the environment. Could provide an introduction to the ecological and spiritual beliefs and traditions of many Native American (and other Indigenous) peoples, which have had a profound influence on the modern environmental movement. Illustrated with black and white collage prints made from natural materials.
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The Endless Pavement
by Jacqueline Jackson and William Perlmutter; illustrated by Richard Cuffari
Seabury Press, New York. 1973
Out of print
Grades: 5–8
Josette lives in a strange, bleak future where people are the servants of automobiles, ruled by the Great Computermobile. One night the “Screen” goes blank, and the father reminisces about what it was like before pavement when there was grass, “a soft green blanket that people used to walk on.” Josette is inspired to free herself. She sabotages the Computermobile, starting a mass pedestrian movement towards the chain-link fence boundary. Automobile manufacturers are one of the interest groups represented at the World Conference on Global Warming students hold as part of the GEMS activities.
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The Faces of Ceti
by Mary Caraker
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1991
Grades: 6–12
Colonists from Earth form two settlements on adjoining planets of the Tau Ceti system. One colony tries to survive by dominating the natural forces that they encounter, while those who land on the planet Ceti apply sound ecological principles and strive to live harmoniously in their new environment. Nonetheless, the Cetians encounter a terrible dilemma—the only edible food on the planet appears to be a species of native animals called the Hlur. Teen-age colonists Maya Gart and Brock Magnus risk their lives in a desperate effort to save their fellow colonists from starvation without killing the gentle Hlur.
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The Great Kapok Tree:
A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
by Lynne Cherry
Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, San Diego. 1990
Grades: K–4
Animals that live in a great kapok tree in the Brazilian rain forest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home. While he is asleep, the animals, including a boa constrictor, bee, monkeys, toucan, macaw, tree frog, jaguar, porcupines, anteaters, and a sloth, all try to influence his dreams by conveying the beauty and utility of the rain forest. At the end of the story, the man puts down his ax and walks away. The preservation of the rain forest, sometimes called “the lungs of the Earth,” has a direct bearing on the other factors that contribute to possible global warming, and deforestation is discussed in more detail in the background section of the GEMS guide.
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The Greenhouse Effect: Life on a Warmer Planet
by Rebecca L. Johnson
Lerner Publications, Minneapolis. 1990
Grades: 5–9
Recent research on the causes and probable impact of the greenhouse effect is presented. There are chapters on carbon dioxide and deforestation, other greenhouse gases, the effects of global warming and modeling changing climates, and a scenario for life on a warmer planet. The last chapter “What Can We Do?” looks at reducing carbon dioxide, exploring new energy sources, and planning and working together. A good deal of scientific information is presented and made accessible along with accompanying graphs, charts, and photographs. This is a good scientific introduction to the issues raised by “global warming.”
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Just A Dream
by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1990
Grades: 1–6
When he has a dream about a future Earth devastated by pollution, Walter begins to understand the importance of taking care of the environment. Planning and taking part in the world conference on global warming in the GEMS guide encourages a similar awareness.
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Kid Heroes of the Environment:
Simple Things Real Kids Are Doing To Save the Earth
edited by Catherine Dee; illustrated by Michele Montez
Earth Works Press, Berkeley, California. 1991
Grades: 3–12
Twenty-nine profiles of individuals and organizations working at home, at school, locally, and nationally, to impact the environment through “kid power.” In addition to specific projects about pollution, recycling, and endangered species, many profiles deal with collecting and publicizing information such as a “green” yearbook, fundraising for adoption of rain forest acreage, and organizations like “Just Say Yes” and “Out of the Ozone,” which deal with legislation and public opinion. An encouraging and excellent connection to ideas of environmental responsibility embedded in the GEMS activities.
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The Lorax
by Dr. Seuss
Random House, New York. 1971
Grades: Preschool–8
Humans are destroying a beautiful forest because it contains “truffula” trees, needed to make “thneeds.” The lorax, who speaks for the environment, explains that the deforestation has affected not only Brown Bar-ba-loots who eat truffula fruits, but also the swans, fish, and other creatures. Ironically, at the end of the book, the thneeds factory owner is placed in charge of the last truffula tree seed. Deforestation relates to the “global warming game” in Session 2 and to many other activities in this GEMS guide.
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One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest
by Jean C. George; illustrated by Gary Allen
HarperCollins, New York. 1990
Grades: 4–7
When a section of rain forest in Venezuela is scheduled to be bulldozed, a young boy and a scientist seek a new species of butterfly for a wealthy industrialist who might preserve the forest. As they travel through the ecosystem rich with plant, insect, and animal life, everything they see on this one day is logged beginning with sunrise at 6:29 a.m. They finally arrive at the top of the largest tree in the forest and fortuitously capture a specimen of an unknown butterfly.
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Restoring the Earth:
How Americans Are Working to Renew Our Damaged Environment
by John J. Berger
Doubleday, New York. 1987
Grades: 7–12
This book profiles individuals and groups active in conservation. It is written at the adult level and does not include any photographs or illustrations. Especially relevant is the first section which deals with restoration of a polluted lake, a trout stream, and a dead marsh. “Mother Nashua” is the true story of the clean-up effort portrayed in Lynne Cherry’s picture book A River Run Wild. Other sections relate to land use and waste disposal, human settlements and their environmental impact, and wildlife preservation.
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Sweetwater
by Laurence Yep; illustrated by Julia Noonan
Harper & Row, New York. 1973
Grades: 5–8
The sea level around a star colony rises year after year as the inhabitants attempt to save their way of life and protect the city from flooding. They investigate why the sea level continues to rise and the tides become increasingly larger.
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Who Really Killed Cock Robin?
by Jean C. George
HarperCollins, New York. 1991
Grades: 3–7
This compelling ecological mystery examines the importance of keeping nature in balance, and provides an inspiring account of a young environmental hero who becomes a scientific detective.
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Will We Miss Them?
by Alexandra Wright; illustrated by Marshall Peck
Charlesbridge Books, Watertown, Massachusetts. 1992
Grades: 2–5
A sixth-grader writes about “some amazing animals that are disappearing from the earth.” On each double-paged spread, the question is asked “Will we miss . . . ?” and gives basic information on 13 animal species and how their habitats may be threatened. The illustrations are strong, a simple map shows approximate locations of threatened species, and the book presents the hopeful message that we don’t have to miss these animals, we can still save them!
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