Children, Health and the Environment

  • A Sense of Wonder, Rachel Carson (Harper Collins, 1956)
    A classic book of words & pictures about the joys children find in the natural world. A good reminder of the important work we do inspiring children to find awe and wonder in the world around them.
  • Child Care Design Guide, Anita Rui Olds (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2000)
    This book, though designed for childcare center use, is a must have for children's museum design professionals, especially those who cater to the very young. Olds emphasizes that a child's space must have "spirit" and emphasizes natural materials choices from a child development perspective.
  • Growing Up Green: Education for Ecological Renewal, David Huchison, Thomas Berry (Teachers College Press,1998)
    This profound and theoretical work brings together ecological thinking, child development and holistic education. It overviews the remarkable possibilities we have as educators to help reestablish children's relationship to the earth community.
  • Home Safe Home, Debra Lynn Dadd (Tarcher, 1997)
    A comprehensive guide of safe alternatives to commonly used products, including sections on synthetic fibers, fabrics, carpeting, furniture, cleaning products. Includes studies on indoor air pollution
  • Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer & the Environment, Sandra Steingraber (Perseus Books, 1997)
    A beautifully written and well-researched book linking many commonly used chemicals with the staggering incidence and increase in cancers of all types. Though not an easy read, Steingraber, a poet/scientist/cancer survivor, looks with great sensitivity at the silence surrounding chemical use and cancer rate increases, while asking the bold question: How can profits be given priority over a child's life or our childrens' future?
  • Our Stolen Future, Theo Colburn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers (Plume, 1997)
    An overview of how hazardous and carcinogenic toxins cause reproductive, developmental, endocrine and immune system disorders. With over 75,000 chemicals currently in use and 20 new chemicals added to the market each week, the authors make excellent points about the toll that these largely untested chemicals have on health.
  • Prescriptions for A Healthy House, Paula Baker-LoPrete, Erica Elliott,John Barta, Lisa Flynn (New Society Publishers, 2001)
    Written by an architect with chemical sensitivity and a physician trained in environmental medicine, this invaluable guide explains where and why standard building practices are not healthful, what to do differently, and how to find necessary expertise and materials.
  • The Nontoxic Baby: Reducing Harmful Chemicals from Your Baby's Life (Lotus Press,1991)
    Though somewhat outdated, the beginning section of this book gives an overview of the effects of chemicals on children, and important information for parents about making healthy choices for their children's environment.
  • Toxic Turnaround, Joy Williams, Sonya Holmquist and Diane Takvorian (Environmental Health Coalition, 1998)
    Toxic Turnaround is a comprehensive easy-to-use guide from Environmental Health Coalition that shows local governments how to reduce the use of toxic chemicals. The book features case studies from cities across the country to illustrate that pollution prevention is effective and cost efficient and encourages municipalities to implement policy to make toxic chemical reduction a way of life. Includes a list of the top four chemical groups that should be rejected as a matter of course.
  • Toxins A to Z: A Guide to Everyday Pollution Hazards, John Harte, Cheryl Holdren, Richard Schneider and Christine Shirley (University of California Press, 1991)
    Toxins A to Z is a highly readable reference guide for household, office and lawn chemicals.


Green Exhibits and Sustainable Design

  • A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishiwaka, & Murray Silverstein (Oxford University Press, 1977)
    This seminal book on architecture and design provides a universal "design language" which will enable a person to make a design for almost any kind of building or built environment. Using 250 archetypal "patterns" that are deeply rooted in the nature of things, the authors encourage designers and builders to think about the relationship of the parts to the whole.
  • A Primer on Sustainable Design, Rocky Mountain Institute, Dianne Lopez Barnett with William D. Browning, 1995, 1998).
    This book provides a very complete and easy to read introduction to the principles of sustainable design and construction. Though geared toward building design, its clear, concise overview of the process of sustainable design and building makes it a must read.
  • A Safe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design, Nancy Jack Todd
  • Biomimcry, Janine M. Benyus (Perennial, 2002)
    Science writer Janine Benyus shows how innovators in many fields are looking at the natural world, copying and mimicking nature's processes, unearthing nature's hidden mysteries and analyzing natures' best ideas in order to learn from nature and adapt natural processes for human use. Highlighting pioneering breakthroughs in industry, Benyus provides important lessons for living sustainably and in harmony with nature.
  • Caring Spaces, Learning Places: Children's Environments That Work, Jim Greenman (Exchange Press, 1988)
    Though written for child care professionals, there is much to learn in this book. Greenman focuses on the importance of using space creatively, imaginatively and with care in order that children's indoor and outdoor play experiences may be rich and meaningful.
  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough and Michael Braungart (North Point Press, 2002)
    This visionary book invites readers to replace the old ideas of reduce, reuse, recycle, or "being less bad" with a new vision using nature as a model for making things. McDonough and Braungart imagine a world with a closed biological loop, where nothing is wasted and everything is recycled. Unlike many gloom and doom books on environmental issues, this book offers a refreshing, uplifting and optimistic approach to using creativity, technology and radical new ways of thinking to change industry and rethink the way we make things. This is essential reading for museum designers and fabricators.
  • Deep Design, David Wann (Island Press, 1996)
    The author explores a new way of thinking about design, one that is based upon looking at natural systems and begins with the question "What is our ultimate goal? before the first step is taken. Wann interviews more than 50 innovative designers in a wide variety of fields as his jumping off point.
  • Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must Be Sustainable, Nathan Shedroff (Rosenfeld Media, 2009).

    In this book, Nathan Shedroff explores practical strategies for sustainability and ways to include sustainability into current development processes.
  • Designs for Living and Learning. Deb Curtis and Margie Carter (Redleaf Press, 2003)
    Curtis and Carter draw inspiration from educators and other thinkers, from Waldorf to Montessori to Reggio to Greenman, Prescott and Olds. They outline hundreds of ways to create healthy and inviting physical, social and emotional environments, particularly for children in child care, but with plenty to consider for children's museums, too. Hundreds of compelling, full-color photographs.
  • The Art of Natural Building, Joseph Kennedy (editor), Michael Smith, Catherine Wanek
    This book provides a comprehensive introduction to natural building. Suitable for lay people, architects or designers, it covers a vast array of natural building techniques that can be employed for interior and exterior wall structures, from straw bale to cob, to recycled concrete and salvaged materials and more.
  • The Natural Step Story: Seeding A Quiet Revolution, Karl-Henrik Robert (New Society, 2002)
    The author outlines a framework, The Natural Step, for strategic planning to move organizations and businesses toward sustainability. Working with companies like Starbucks, Nike, IKEA, McDonalds, and Home Depot, Robert shows how companies can make a profit and work toward environmental and social responsibility. This book tells the story of the organization's beginnings and sheds light on the international movement that provides education and support for businesses and organizations worldwide that are seeking to move toward sustainability.
  • The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture and Human Intention . David Orr (Oxford University Press, 2004)
    David Orr provides an integrated vision of the role of design and its relationship with nature. Combining theory, practicality and a call to action, Orr brilliantly outlines what is needed for an ecological design revolution. Weaving together politics, ethics, education with building and technology design, Orr's book is full of charity, love and deep respect for children and their rights to inherit a healthy planet. A must read.
  • The Philosophy of Sustainable Design, Jason F. McLennan


Building Materials and Products

  • Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought of, Vicki Lansky, Book Peddlers, 1995, 2004.
  • Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions, Annie Berthold-Bond (Three Rivers Press,1999)
    Contains 868 practical formulas for making your own cleaners, paints, stains, dyes, etc. out of natural materials. This book is a wonderful tool kit for museums on a low budget looking for safe cleaning alternatives.
  • Clean & Green, Annie B. Bond, Ceres Press, 1990, 1994.
  • Clean House, Clean Planet, Karen Logan, Pocket, 1997.
  • Green Building Materials: A Guide to Product Selection and Specification, Second Edition,
  • Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home, Linda Mason Hunter & Mikki Halpin, Melcher Media, 2005.
  • Green This! Volume One, Greening Your Cleaning, Deidre Imus, Simon & Shuster, 2007.
  • The HOK Handbook, Sandra Mendler and William Odell
    An invaluable and comprehensive guide to green building by one of the country's leading architectural firms, the handbook features 24 case studies of HOK designed projects. While revolving mostly around green building construction, the book offers practical guideline of balancing budget, schedules, market demands with ecological principles.
  • Home Enlightenment: Practical, Earth-Friendly advice for creating a nurturing, healthy, and toxin-free home and lifestyle, Annie B. Bond, Rodale, 2005.
  • Home Safe Home, Debra Lynn Dadd, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc., 1997
  • Sustaining the Earth: Choosing Consumer Products that Are Safe for You, Your Family, and the Earth, Debra-Dadd-Redalla (Hearst Communications Inc., 1994)
    This comprehensive guide explains how to judge products for their sustainability--for their ability to be produced, used and discarded ecologically. Well researched and thorough, this book provides solid definitions of sustainability and overviews of products using sustainability criteria.
  • *The GreenSpec Directory, published by Environmental Building News, Brattleboro, VT.
    This 5th edition of GreenSpec Directory includes information on more than 1,850 green building products carefully screened by the editors of Environmental Building News. While designed for buildings, many sections are very useful for the exhibit designer. For directory call 802-257-7300, or email
  • The Green Book of Household Hints, Marjorie Harris, Firefly Books, 2001.
  • The Naturally Clean House: 101 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas, Karen Siegel-Maier, Storey Books, 1999.
  • Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought of, Vicki Lansky and Martha Campbell, Book Peddlers, 2003.


Thoughts for Green Living

  • A Safe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design, By Nancy Jack Todd
  • Capitalism as if the World Matters, Jonathon Porritt,
  • Fostering Sustainable Behavior, Doug McKenzie-Mohr and William Smith (New Society Publishers, 1999)
    This groundbreaking book makes the point for community based social marketing as a way to institute sweeping changes in public behavior. As our consumption patterns threaten the Earth's ability to support life, this new field of social marketing is rapidly expanding. The book is a great guide for those interested in exploring their own behavior, or in instituting program s that promote sustainable behavior, from recycling to alternative transportation and everything in between.
  • Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis, Lynn White
  • In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan
  • Natural Capitalism, Paul Hawkins, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins (BackBay Books, 2000)
    This ambitious, visionary book sets out to show how business can be good for the environment, and how huge profits can be made by rethinking the way we make, market, sell, use and reconstitute things once they have served their useful first life. Written by members of the Rocky Mountain Institute environmental think tank, the authors argue for reinventing our relationship with nature and for a marriage between environmentalism and capitalism.
  • Our Ecological Footprint, Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees (New Society, 1996)
    The authors provide a powerful tool for measuring and visualizing the resources required to sustain our households and communities. With complex mathematical formulas, the authors clearly indicate that at our current rate of resource consumption, our lifestyle and fragile ecosystems are unsustainable.
  • Sustainable business theory: Capitalism at the Crossroads, Stuart Hart
  • The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Paul Hawken
  • The Natural Step for Business, Nattrass and Altomare (case study examples of Robert's Natural Step)
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan
  • The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich
  • The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature, David Suzuki and Amanda McConnell
  • The Tragedy of the Commons, Hardin
  • Thousand Shades of Green Pieter Winsemius and Ulrich Guntram