Climate Reads 2: The Trailblazing Women of Climate Change

Posted on June 15, 2023
By Chiara Camponeschi

Woman reading to three young children

This post is part of Community Climate Transitions' Climate Reads series. Read Part 1 here.

This resource is also available in French. Click here to access the French version.

When it comes to climate action, there’s no doubt that women have been leading the charge for a long time. Just think of Wangari’s Trees of Peace, Greta’s Fridays for Future, or Jane’s Fire Drill Fridays. This second installment of our Climate Reads series is dedicated to them. 

Keep reading to discover some of our favourite stories of climate leadership written by women from all walks of life and in a rich variety of genres. You’ll find memoirs and personal essays by Indigenous and trans women; poetry and speculative fiction by Black and Palestinian women; children’s books, travelogues, action handbooks, and lots more. Happy reading!


Cover of The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Fight to Protect the Arctic and Save the Planet from Climate Change 1. The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Fight to Protect the Arctic and Save the Planet from Climate Change 

By Sheila Watt-Cloutier, foreword by Bill McKibben 


In 2007, Sheila Watt-Cloutier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy in showing the impact of global climate change on human rights. In 2015, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Awards (a distinction better known as the ‘Alternative Nobel’) for her work on climate change in the Arctic.

The Right to Be Cold is her memoir of growing up in the small community of Kuujjuaq, a region that is part of the homeland of the Inuit in Canada. It tells the story of Watt-Cloutier finding her place in the world at a time when her native land was, and continues to be, under threat by an alarming rise in temperatures.

Read on to learn how, after overcoming family separation and time in a residential school in Manitoba, Watt-Cloutier went on to become one of the most influential Indigenous environmental, cultural, and human rights advocates in the world. 

Find the book on


Cover of Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands 2. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands 

By Kate Beaton 

Graphic novel

Kate Beaton is a New York Times bestselling cartoonist hailing from Mabou, a tight-knit seaside community in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton.

Ducks is the story of how, determined to pay off her student loans, Beaton found herself working in the Albertan oil sands for two years. Surrounded by giant machinery and a growing community of economic migrants from all over the country, her book documents the often overlooked and misunderstood aspects of day-to-day life on the oil sands — from mental health struggles to sexual harassment, unexpected moments of beauty and solidarity, and more.

Published by Montreal’s famed independent publishing house Drawn & Quarterly, Ducks won the 2023 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads and was listed as one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2022.

Find the book on

Cover of I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World3. I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

By Kai Cheng Thom

Personal Essays and Prose Poems

Kai Cheng Thom is a Toronto-based writer, performer, community worker and winner of the 2017 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBTQ Writers.

Her book dives deep into the questions confronting today’s social movements — from violence and complicity to family and forgiveness. Drawing inspiration from the work of thought leaders advancing transformative and healing justice, the essays in this book explore timely and poignant questions, such as: “What can we trust when a community has broken our hearts?”, “What would it mean to pursue justice without violence?”, and “How do we find healing at a time of political polarization?”

Find the book on

Cover of Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration4. Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration

By Sara Dykman

Travel Writing

This genre-defying book blends science, nature and adventure writing to recount Sara Dykman’s epic pedal-powered journey along the migratory path of the monarch butterfly.

Traveling more than 10,000 miles across 3 countries, Dykman became the first person to complete such a feat – “on a bike cobbled together from used parts”, no less! If you are looking for a book to rekindle your sense of awe and push you beyond your comfort zone, the story of her incredible round-trip may just be for you. It will make you think about climate change and appreciate nature’s resilience while offering a much-needed respite from alarming headlines and record-breaking temperatures. 

Find the book on

Cover of Love Your Mother: 50 States, 50 Stories, and 50 Women United for Climate Justice 5. Love Your Mother: 50 States, 50 Stories, and 50 Women United for Climate Justice 

By Mallory McDuff


As a mother and a professor of environmental education, Mallory McDuff wanted to offer her daughters and her students a way to advance climate justice from an energizing, rather than paralyzing, understanding of the problem. With this goal in mind, she set out to find women of all walks of life, one from each of the fifty US states, to tell their story of love and leadership.

Her collection features the voices of a diverse array of women, from elders resisting the Dakota Pipeline, to climate scientists, students, filmmakers and lots more. Love Your Mother is a powerful reminder that women aren’t just disproportionately impacted by climate change – they are also part of the solution. 

Find the book on


Cover of Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs 6. Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs

By Juli Berwald


Juli Berwald first fell in love with coral reefs when she was a marine biology student. As her studies made evident the existential threat faced by one of nature’s most spectacular microcosmos, she set out on a tour of the world to find solutions for how to prevent their loss.

Life on the Rocks is the account of her encounters with scientists and activists, and of their ingenious efforts to rebuild coral reefs by any means necessary (yes, that includes zip ties!). The result is a book that is a “meditative ode” to the power of symbiotic relationships, one that contemplates ecological grief while simultaneously acknowledging “the beauty of small victories.”

Find the book on


Cover of We Are Water Protectors7. We Are Water Protectors

By Carole Lindstrom (Author) and Michaela Goade (Illustrator) 

Children's Book

This delightfully illustrated book is inspired by the countless movements for environmental protection led by Indigenous communities across North America.

Written by Carole Lindstrom, an Anishinabe/Métis member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians, We Are Water Protectors is based on an age-old but often overlooked truth, that “water is the first medicine.”

Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal, this is “a bold and lyrical picture book” for children and the inner children of adults alike!

Find the book on


Cover of Parable of the Sower8. Parable of the Sower

By Octavia E. Butler

Science Fiction

Despite being first published in 1993, Octavia Butler’s acclaimed book is eerily accurate about the world it imagined for the early 2020s. Parable of the Sower anticipated a time of economic crisis (check), social unrest (check), and rampant climate change (check), in a California where poverty and wealth coexist side by side (check-check-check).

The book tells the story of 15-year-old Lauren Olamina, a girl who lives inside a gated community and suffers from hyperempathy, a condition described as “a debilitating sensitivity to others' emotions.” Burned by the weight of all that the adults around her are choosing to ignore, Lauren must learn how to make her voice heard, in the process giving birth to a new vision for the future of humanity.

The recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant and a PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award, Octavia Butler remains one of the most lucid and provocative voices in contemporary fiction. Parable of the Sower is no exception. 

Find the book on

Cover of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time 9. Cast Away: Poems for Our Time

By Naomi Shihab Nye 


Acclaimed American-Palestinian poet and Guggenheim Fellow Naomi Shihab Nye returns with a poetry collection that is a moving and original meditation on all that we cast away in life.

"I couldn't save the world, but I could pick up trash," she writes in her introduction to this volume. From food wrappers and plastic straws to refugee children and community, no topic is too mundane or too big to be interrogated by her curious and engaged mind.

Join her in exploring this humble yet generative topic with poems that ask seemingly straightforward questions such as: "How much have you thrown away in your lifetime already? Do you ever think about it? Where does this plethora of leavings come from? How long does it take you, even one little you, to fill the can by your desk?" 

Find the book on


Cover of The Climate Action Handbook: A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone 10. The Climate Action Handbook: A Visual Guide to 100 Climate Solutions for Everyone 

By Heidi Ropp 


While it’s true that radical systemic change and corporate accountability are key pieces of an equitable transition away from fossil fuels, if you’ve reached the end of this round-up asking yourself “What can I do?” then this handbook may be for you! It brings together some of the most accessible yet powerful steps individuals and their communities can take to tackle the climate crisis one day at a time.

Through infographics and other visual prompts, the handbook guides readers through 100 climate solutions covering anything from fast fashion to sustainable wine choices, helping readers progressively rethink their daily habits to be less harmful and more sustainable over time. 

Find the book on 

Homepage Blog, CCT blog, Climate Transitions, Chiara Camponeschi

Chiara Camponeschi

By Chiara Camponeschi

Chiara is a Manager of Cities with the Tamarack Institute's Community Climate Transitions initiative. She has 15 years of experience in the social impact sector, having worked with nonprofits, as well as having served as an advisor to several multilateral and community initiatives, in Canada and abroad.

Related Posts