Buildings That Breathe

Greening the World's Cities

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 7

Imagine looking out from your 18th floor apartment in the middle of the city and seeing trees right in front of you.

In an effort to stem climate change, reduce pollution, combat heat, and protect biodiversity, architects are teaming up with botanists, urban wildlife ecologists, and other scientists to design high-rise forests, living walls, and vertical farms in some of the world’s most populated places. These projects are happening all around the world, and they will not only change the urban landscape, but they will provide urban dwellers with a healthier place to live and work.

For Buildings That Breathe, author and environmental journalist Nancy Castaldo connected with architect Stefano Boeri at the World Forum on Urban Forests and was invited to his office in Milan where she visited Bosco Verticale, the first high-rise forest. Planted with 750 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11 perennials on two apartment towers, the project provides an urban habitat for birds, insects, and people while creating a micro-climate that produces oxygen and provides shade for high-rise residents. Explore Bosco Verticale, as well the planned Liuzhou Forest City in China and other green architecture projects around the world, looking at how people are working together to change the urban landscape of the future.

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Interest Level Grade 8 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 7
Genre Science, Young Adult
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Traditional Nonfiction, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning, STEM, STEM: Engineering, STEM: Life Science/Plants, STEM: Technology
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Twenty-First Century Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 112
Publication Date 2022-11-01
Text Type Informational/Explanatory
BISACS YAN004000, YAN050040, YAN055020
Dewey 628
Dimensions 6 x 9
Lexile 1090
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Charts/Graphs/Diagrams, Glossary, Index, Maps, Photo captions, Primary source quotations/images, Reviewed, Sidebars, and Table of contents

Author: Nancy F. Castaldo

Nancy F. Castaldo has written nonfiction children's books about our planet for more than 20 years. As an environmental educator, she hopes to empower more young readers with her books about the Earth. She is based in Chatham, New York.

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  • Green Earth Book Award Longlist, Long-listed, 2023
  • EUREKA! Children's Book Honor Award, Commended, 2023
  • Dogwood Readers Award, Winner, 2023



“Castaldo’s engaging, in-depth writing provides plenty of explanation and details that show why these efforts are an important part of the planet’s future.” —BayViews

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“[A] highly recommended book that will enrich readers’ knowledge of our planet Earth while inspiring creatively beautiful change.” –Children’s Literature


“This specialized but extremely helpful resource offers realistic and inspiring solutions.”—Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“Hopeful and information-packed, this is a positive addition to the environmental shelf.”—Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal

“An exciting opportunity to engage young readers with their world and the multidisciplinary researchers working on these big, global issues.”—School Library Journal