Impossible as it might seem, the holidays are just around the corner. As you think about what to get the kids in your life, why not combine two of our favorite things: renewable energy and books?
It’s never too early to start learning about renewable energy.
In many ways, kids are the ones leading the fight against climate change. And with so much interest in climate change solutions, there’s no shortage of resources on wind and solar power out there. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites — some of which are free — just in time for the holidays.
Recommended for all ages
Birtiannica Kids is a great resource for all those renewable energy questions that you just don’t know how to answer. It offers encyclopedia entries tailored to various age levels — early, elementary, middle school, and high school learners. For renewable energy topics, like wind and solar power, there are reader-adapted entries based on grade level, plus videos, articles, and website links vetted by academic professionals.
Access is free to encyclopedia entries, and subscribers gain unlimited access to the media gallery, kid-friendly dictionary, and activities center.
Solar Story, Allan Drummond
Recommended for Pre-K to Grade 1
Children are naturally curious about the world, and Allan Drummond’s Solar Story is a great way to capture their attention on questions related to renewable energy sources. This picture book explains how solar energy electrifies a small village in Morocco’s Sahara Desert. Drummond blends creative elements, including engaging cartoon-style narration, sidebars, and watercolor illustrations to bring the story alive for young readers.
If your young readers like this book, Drummond also has one focused on wind energy, called Energy Island.
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The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip, Joanna Cole
Recommended for Grades 1-3
OK, this book isn’t specifically about renewable energy, but it’s a great resource for teaching kids how our energy system works in general. And who doesn’t love the Magic School Bus? This is actually one of the original books, updated with the latest scientific information, in the much-loved series from Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen. Young readers can join Ms. Frizzle and her students as they learn about how electricity works — by jumping into their town’s power lines. Kids follow the gang from atom to atom as they ride the electric current through the power grid and straight into familiar household appliances.
A True Book - Alternative Energy
Recommended for Grades 3-5
This four-book series from Scholastic covers four different types of energy: Wind Power (Matt Ziem), Solar Power (Laurie Brearley), Water Power (Laurie Brearley), and Geothermal Energy (Laurie Brearley). Each book includes diagrams, eye-catching images, timelines of how we’ve used energy over the course of human history, and sidebars to explain important scientific concepts. There are also links to digital content so that young readers can explore further.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Picture Book Edition), William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Recommended for grades 3-5
This true tale about 14-year-old William Kamkwamba is sure to capture kids’ imaginations. When a drought strikes William’s village in Malawi, the crops fail and families struggle to find enough food. William figures out how to build a windmill out of junkyard scraps and becomes a hero for bringing electricity to his village.
The picture book edition of William’s story, with illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon, teaches young readers about perseverance and ingenuity as well as wind power. There are also editions for teens (Grades 9-12) and adults. There’s even a Netflix movie that you and your young reader can watch together after finishing the book.
NASA’s Solar-Wind-Riding Electric Sail e-book
Recommended for Grades 4-8
Earlier this year, NASA launched its Out of This World e-book series, available to download for free to a tablet or computer. The book series is perfect for any elementary or middle schooler interested in space exploration, but Solar-Wind-Riding Electric Sail focuses on the power of solar and wind energy. It features NASA Inventor Bruce Wiegmann and his quest to harness the power of solar wind to drastically reduce the amount of time — and fuel — it takes to get to the edge of the solar system.
“The Kids Should See This” videos from NOVA and PBS
Recommended for middle and high school learners
The PBS and its NOVA series “The Kids Should See This” is a video curation site that features a wide range of science-based videos, including educational videos and demonstrations. Kids can explore how wind turbines and solar panels work and see many examples of how renewable energy powers technologies, like electric race cars, DIY solar-powered ovens, and kinetic sculptures. Each video is free to watch and there are more than 4,000 to keep students engaged for hours.