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2021 Teen Reading Challenge: Protecting Our Environment

Posted about 3 years ago by Jennifer Deuell

It’s hard to believe it but we are already in our fourth month of the 2021 RPL Teen Writing Challenge. That means, if you’ve been completing one prompt a month, you’re a quarter of the way through! This month I focused on readings about protecting our environment. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that our planet is in trouble. In December of last year, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres gave an address at Columbia University titled “The State of Our Planet.”  The whole speech is staggering yet inspirational and is definitely worth a read. I’d like to quote just one bit to set the tone for today’s post:

“We are facing a devastating pandemic, new heights of global heating, new lows of ecological degradation and new setbacks in our work towards global goals for more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. To put it simply, the state of the planet is broken. Dear friends, [h]umanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back — and it is already doing so with growing force and fury…Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere.”

Frankly, it’s terrifying. And when I get scared, I turn to books. I find that through reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, I am able to better understand the situation and gain some amount of control…or at least feel armed to do something! So, I’ve gattered together a list of reading materials that all focus on protecting our planet. This includes cli-fi, materials on young environmental activists, and tips on how we can help the environment. Here are some of the things I found:



















If you’re looking for a shorter read, or ways to get more involved in environmental activism, check out these sites!

  • This is a great article from NPR spotlighting four young female climate activists and how they manage being a teen and helping to save the world.
  • This article in Nature discusses why young activists have a bigger impact that anyone else!
  • UNICEF has several ways they are supporting young environmental activists.  Check out what they’re doing and how you can get involved.
  • Climate Generation is a whole organization built around youth environmental activists.  Looking for leadership opportunities?  This is a great place to look.
  • This Vox article highlights young activists of color helping combat climate change. And, let me tell you, there are a lot!
  • CoalitionWILD is another great organization focused on providing leadership opportunities for young environmental activists. 
  • If you’re interested in how environmental justice and social justice go hand in hand, check out the Earth Guardians website.
  • Interested in specifically helping protect our polar regions? Students on Ice is an organization that does just that! See how you can join in the battle.

I hope you find one or more resources on this list that help you begin or continue your journey toward protecting the environment. If you are a teen, you can join the conversation taking place on our Discord server. We have a designated channel for readers to chat all month.  Not a member of the server yet?  Fill out this form and we’ll send you an invite.  Also, feel free to tag us on social media and share what you’re reading #2021rplteenreadingchallenge

Happy reading!

To get all the basic info on the 2021 RPL Teen Reading Challenge, read this post.

To get recommendations for Prompt 1 – Immigration in the U.S., read this post.

To get recommendations for Prompt 2 – Teen Activism, read this post.

For recommendations for Prompt 3 – Body positivity, read this post.

Check back next month for suggestions to fulfill Prompt 5 “A teen who shares one of your talents!”








Jennifer Deuell

Jenn Deuell is a Librarian with Richmond Public Library. She is a native of Fredericksburg, VA but has lived in Richmond for long enough that she now considers it home. She loves all things YA and can usually be found curled up at home with a good book (rainy day or not). Her other hobbies include traveling and spending time with family, including her husband, daughter Hannah, and two rescued pit bulls. For YA reading recommendations from Jenn, visit Bookologist.

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