A Child & Nature Reunion

Summertime is here! The ideal time to update your child's library with books about nature. This list of carefully-chosen books for kids of all ages focuses on the beauty and wonder of nature and can help young children develop an understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

While we would all love our children to spend as much time outdoors in nature as possible, sometimes vicarious experiences with nature are enough. Books that focus on the beauty and wonder of nature can help children develop an understanding and appreciation of the natural world which helps kids develop into more environmentally responsive individuals. In fact, experts tell us that two factors predict pro-environment behaviors in children: 1) direct experience in nature and 2)  second-hand learning such as through books and stories. 

We've carefully put together this list of nature-themed books that have been largely recommended by experts on the ways in which books can help children feel connected to nature. These titles affirm and underscore a child's relationship with nature, rather than provoke fear and despair. These books can help your child develop a connection to nature and even develop a deep sense of love for nature and the outdoors. 

Appreciation for Nature

Appreciation for nature addresses the development of awareness, enjoyment and wonder, and gratitude for the natural world.

Someone is always awake in the forest and someone else is always asleep! Some animals are alert in the daytime and sleep at night. Others are alert at night and are sleepyheads during the day. Plus be sure to count the animals.

Age Range:  Preschool & up

Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird.

Age Range: 3 - 7 years

It’s a rare nonfiction book that’s also a simple, beautiful poem. In this gorgeous Little Golden Book from 1957, Eloise Wilkin’s stunning and realistic artwork is accompanied by gentle text that brings an awe of nature to the youngest readers.

Age Range: 3 - 7 years

Featuring butterflies and moths, crickets and cicadas, bumblebees and beetles, this zippy rhyming exploration of backyard-bug behavior is sure to have young insect enthusiasts bugging out with excitement!

Age Range: 2 - 4 years

Tall Tall Tree is a tribute to the last remaining old-growth redwood forests that stand along the northern Californian coast. The perfect forest book for kids, Tall Tall Tree includes accurate scientific information about redwood trees and the habitat they create, making this book important for young readers at home and in the classroom.

Age Range: 3 - 8 years

Award-winning author/illustrator Denise Fleming gives young readers a frog’s eye view of life in a pond throughout the seasons in the Caldecott Honor Book, In the Small, Small Pond.

Age Range: 4 - 5 years

Young scientists will love this nature mystery that reveals the secrets hiding in seeds, plants, flowers, and fruits throughout the life cycle of various flora. Curiosity will bloom in this introduction to botany and primary nature science.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years

In Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs, and Other Ughs, vibrant illustrations and rhyming text offer readers an experience exploring under a rock and a chance to learn of its ecology. Children will gain an appreciation for the world under a rock―that hides a whole crowd on a summer's day.

Age Range: 4 - 10 years

This award-winning contemporary classic is the survival story with which all others are compared—and a page-turning, heart-stopping adventure, recipient of the Newbery Honor. Hatchet has also been nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Age Range: 11 - 13 years


Caring for Nature

Caring for the natural world refers to the actions and respect that the natural world requires to maintain healthy ecosystems for the mutual benefit of all.

An inspiring, lyrical story, rooted in Lennon's life and work, Touch the Earth is filled with beautiful illustrations that bring the faraway world closer to young children. The book includes words to a special poem written by Julian Lennon, specifically for Touch the Earth.

Age Range: 3 - 6 years

Follow Jane from her childhood in London watching a robin on her windowsill, to her years in the African forests of Gombe, Tanzania, invited by brilliant scientist Louis Leakey to observe chimps, to her worldwide crusade to save these primates who are now in danger of extinction, and their habitat.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years

Award-winning author Liz Garton Scanlon presents a young, rhythmic read-aloud about a girl who solves a windy problem with an environmentally sound solution: planting trees.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years

Why should you be a friend to trees? Trees are a valuable natural resource. People depend on trees for food, and animals depend on trees for food and shelter. But most important, we depend on trees because they add oxygen, a gas we all need, to the air.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years

Backyard Books: Are You an Ant? by Judy Allen with illustrations by Tudor Humphries will give children who love to track ants an inside look at the everyday life of this fascinating insect, as they explore the similarities and differences to themselves.

Age Range: 5 - 8 years

Since it was first published fifty years ago, Shel Silverstein's poignant picture book for readers of all ages has offered a touching interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.

Age Range: 1 - 8 years

As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India's Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals.

Age Range: 5 - 8 years

Newbery Medal winner Island of the Blue Dolphins is considered one of the greatest children's books ever written. This story of survival is as haunting and beautiful today as it was when it first appeared in print.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years

Bold, child-friendly illustrations and die-cut pages will draw even the youngest listeners to this gentle reminder of the easy, everyday ways we can be kinder to the earth.

Age Range: 3 - 7 years

Kids can peek underground, dig into the wonders of roots and discover all the amazing things roots do for trees and plants. Whether children are junior gardeners or simply curious about the trees they climb and the flowers they pick, this picture book shows the side of the story they don't see-the underground story.

Age Range: 5 - 8 years

In Near One Cattail: Turtles, Logs and Leaping Frogs, vibrant illustrations and rhyming text offer readers a chance to learn about the wetlands and many of the creatures that make their habitat there. Children will gain an appreciation for the world around us through this fun and interesting topic.

Age Range: 4 - 10 years

The Call of the Wild, considered by many London's greatest novel, is a gripping tale of a heroic dog that, thrust into the brutal life of the Alaska Gold Rush, ultimately faces a choice between living in man's world and returning to nature.

Age Range: 12 years & up

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