Children, Families, Good Reads

Environmental Books for Kids Review

environmental books for kids

The kind people at Floris Books recently sent me two environmental books for kids to review. The first is How Does My Garden Grow, by Gerda Muller. And the second is The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream by Brenda Tyler.

My daughter is only two. As such, she’s a bit below the recommended age for these books (3+), however, we’ve had some good fun reading them nonetheless.

How Does My Garden Grow?

environmental books for pre-schoolers

How Does My Garden Grow is her favourite of the two environmental books for kids. And mine too, actually!  It’s all about a little girl from the city called Sophie, who goes to stay in the countryside with her grandparents for the summer.  At her grandparents she prepares a plot and plants some seeds, helping them to grow. All the while learning all about gardening as she goes.  

There’s a lot to this book, covering all the different aspects of preparing the soil, planting, growing, and harvesting. As such, I think three to seven-year-olds would get a lot out of this book.  It’s a great way to introduce the idea of gardening and where our vegetables come from and even features an introduction to composting.

The message isn’t entirely lost on my daughter. She has fun pointing out all of the different vegetables, and I’m sure it’s going to be a favourite as she grows older.  I also love the retro-style illustrations.

gardening books for kids
gardening books for preschoolers

The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream Environmental Book for Kids

The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream introduces children to the idea of environmentalism.  It tells the story of Emily and Jamie: two children who visit their favourite otter-filled stream to find it polluted, full of rubbish, and devoid of wildlife, including their beloved otters.  The Tomtes (little gnomes/elves) appear, helping Emily and Jamie to clean up the river and restore the habitat. The story even touches very briefly on the concept of activism!

tomtes of hilltop stream review

The message is great (although my bugbear is there’s no real message of how the rubbish got there). All in all, it would probably be a handy book for teachers to introduce ideas of environmentalism as part of wider readings and activities.  

As a fun book for kids to read at home though then I’m not so sure.  It might be hard to involve children in the story as it is very linear. All that happens is that they quickly and easily clean up the river, and there is little in terms of the characters or the plot to hold their attention.  

What it does do is provide plenty of talking points to expand on the environmental ideas discussed in the book. This means you can go into as much or as little detail as you like, depending on the age of your children.

tomtes book brenda tyler

What are your favourite environmental books for kids?

Floris Books kindly sent me two books to review. All views, words, and images are my own.  See my disclosure policy for more information.

Home, Home and Garden

Ideas For Your Ethical Kid’s Bedroom

ethical kid's bedroom

Looking for some inspiration for your ethical kid’s bedroom? Here’s how we kitted out our daughter’s bedroom, to help give you some ideas of what to look for.

We don’t often buy furniture for our home, but when we do we like it to last a long time.  We’ve just had to transition our daughter’s room from a nursery to a toddler’s bedroom. Therefore, I thought I’d share with you how we did it, as we tried to decorate as sustainably and ethically as we could.

Our Ethical Kid’s Bedroom

The Bed

Our daughter had been happily sleeping in her cot for the best part of a year. However, between Christmas and New Year she mastered the art of skillfully and stealthily climbing out of it in one silent manoeuvre.  Worried about a potential injury, especially if she started climbing in the middle of the night, we swiftly dismantled the cot. I then put the cot mattress on the floor for her to sleep on whilst we made arrangements for a new ‘big girl’ bed.

I initially thought about getting her a toddler bed. But then I thought she’d only be in it a year or two before we would need to get her a single bed.  This didn’t seem particularly sustainable or purse-friendly – it wasn’t what I had in mind for a kid’s ethical bedroom – so I got busy scouring Gumtree. On my first search, I came across a beautiful secondhand single bed for only £30.  The lady selling it was moving house and had no room for it in her new place.  

Roping in a favour from a friend with a van we picked up the bed. It had a few paint marks on it but after a quick scrub with some warm soapy water, a scouring pad, and some good old bicarbonate of soda and it came up trumps!  We hope it will last at the very least until our daughter leaves home (in the very very distant future)!

uk made mattress

The Mattress

The bed came with a mattress but I feel a bit funny about secondhand mattresses. What can I say, in my time I’ve lived in too many badly furnished student flats! Therefore the lady selling the bed came down in price for me as I left her the mattress.  

I struggled to find an affordable eco-friendly mattress for our ethical kid’s bedroom. John Lewis has a hemp one, but at £425 it was quite considerably out of our budget. Instead, I went down the most ethical route I could within our tight budget. As well as budget-busting mattresses, John Lewis also stocks a good range of UK-made mattresses. These are reportedly made from ‘responsibly sourced materials’, which start from £60 for a single.  

I wasn’t sure how a cheaper mattress would stand up over the years to repeatedly being jumped up and down on by a small person. Therefore I opted to go for their £100 mattress in the hope that it will last a long time.  I can report that it’s incredibly comfortable. So far I think it was a good choice!

ethical mattress

I found a bed guard in my local Barnados charity shop for £3.99. They have a dedicated children’s shop near me that exclusively sells donated baby and toddler equipment, clothes, toys, and everything else. On the day I visited, I had my pick between four different bed guards!

The Duvet

For the duvet, I wanted one that was easily washable in the washing machine, and ideally would be both eco-friendly and ethical.  In the end, I found one in Marks & Spencer for £29.50. It’s made in the UK and its anti-allergen filling is made from recycled plastic bottles.  It can be washed in the machine up to 50°C too, so it fitted the bill perfectly.  For chilly nights I also picked up a vintage hand-crocheted blanket on eBay.

The Bed Linen

We already had a load of spare pillows so didn’t need to buy any. However, we did need bedding – the final item we needed to finish our ethical kid’s bedroom.

We don’t have any independent department stores or textiles shops near us. Therefore, I did a quick search online and found Palmers Department Stores – a family-run independent business based in Norfolk. They were having a good sale on textiles and were running an extra 10% off promotion that I found on their Facebook page (who needs Amazon?!).  I managed to pick up some duvet covers there. I didn’t want anything character-based or overly kiddie that she’d probably grow out of in a few years, so went for something fresh and floral instead.

Our daughter absolutely adores her new “big bed” and we love her ethical kid’s bedroom.  For us the most important thing is that she is sleeping through the night in it, so we’re calling it an all-around success!  Although her bed isn’t particularly kiddie the rest of her room has her toys, books, and prints on the wall,  helping to create a fun room for her that can easily be adapted as she grows.

NB: It goes without saying that this is not a sponsored post – everything featured are items we bought ourselves. However, the * symbol denotes an affiliate link. This means I may get a very small percentage for any purchases you make using these links. This helps support the running costs of the blog and keeps it free to read for all.  Please see my disclosure policy for more information.