This Earth Day, dive into these beautiful nature books for kids! These gorgeous fiction and non-fiction books are sure to get children interested in the natural world.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Nature Books for Children for Earth Day
Enjoy these nature books for kids, perfect for Earth Day or any time of year!
Zonia’s Rain Forest is the latest picture book from the Caldecott Honor Winner Juana Martínez-Neal. It is the story of a child of the Amazon, who is friends with all the creatures in the rain forest, from the sloth to the jaguar. This lovely book with its dreamy artwork is a loving tribute to the animals and to their fast disappearing jungle home. It also shows the ability of children to connect to the natural world and become its protectors, when, like Zonia, they discover evidence that it needs our help. I love that it also teaches children about the indigenous people that live in the rainforest. Zonia represents the Asháninka people of the Peruvian Amazon, and the back of the book even includes a translation of the text into the Asháninka language.
The layered board book Into the Ocean is a perfect way to introduce young readers to ocean creatures and their habitats. Kids will enjoy the simple rhyming story of a little turtle playing hide and seek, as they discover various ocean animals. The shaped pages are perfect for little hands, and kids will love the foil detail of the illustrations. This tactile experience will draw little readers into the ocean world and spark their curiosity about its inhabitants.
Anyone else obsessed with polar bears? The gorgeous new book Penguins and Polar Bears: A pretty cool introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic is a great way to spark kids’ interest in the animals of the Arctic and Antarctic by helping them imagine themselves as explorers to the Poles. This book is filled with lavish illustrations and fun facts about the popular animals found in these regions as well as some of the lesser known, like ice worms (!) I also love that the book doesn’t pretend that there are no humans in these extreme environments. It covers explorers, indigenous groups (*not* as static relics of the past but as modern inhabitants), and research stations. It also discusses negative effects of human contact, such as pollution and shrinking habitats, while helping kids see themselves as part of the solution. A beautiful addition to any home or school collection.
The other day my son wanted to read more about bees, but he was rolling his eyes because our animal encyclopedia didn’t teach him anything new. “I know all this already!” he complained. So I was thrilled to receive Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer, a beautiful book for kids that want to learn more about any aspect of bees and beekeeping – from how to care for beehives to what to feed the bees. The book follows Grandma and Bruno the bear through their year, as we see how they care for their bees in each season. The book is full of charming illustrations, so it’s appealing even for younger readers, yet there is so much detail shown that older readers will love it as well. A wonderful way to show appreciation for hard working bees!
Do your kids love gross stuff as much as mine do? Here is an awesome book that uses that love of yuckiness to teach them cool science facts about fungi! Fungus is Among Us! is a hilarious book that reads more like a spooky Halloween story about the fungi that surround us everyday. There are so many things I love about it, starting with the fact that the main character is a brown girl! Also, that it makes science so fun. Trust me, you will never look at your compost pile – or your pizza – the same way again! And as a parent of multiple kiddos, I love that the book can be enjoyed on different levels. There is the main story that suits the attention span of younger readers (while still packing in a lot of learning), plus additional information boxes throughout the book for older kids that want a deeper dive into the subject. There’s even an interview with a mycologist (a woman!) at the back. Highly recommended!
Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum offers another look a fungi, in this oversized, coffee table quality book. It is set up like a museum exhibit, so instead of chapters, it has “galleries,” with displays about, for example, fungal biology and fungal diversity. This incredibly detailed reference book contains a wealth of information for older children, as well as incredible full page illustrations. A wonderful addition to any home or school library.
Did you know that animals use tools, too? And not just primates! In Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use, children can discover all the ways that animals around the world use tools to keep clean, stay healthy, protect themselves, and have fun! (This last section is my favorite! Who knew that ravens like to go sledding and play games??) This beautiful book is a great way for older elementary school kids to learn more about their favorite animals. From long-tailed macaques that floss their teeth to boxer crabs that use anemones as shields, kids will never look at animals the same way again!
What list of nature books would be complete without a look at the life of one of its most famous champions? The Story of Jane Goodall: A Biography Book for New Readers is perfect for kids that are ready for early chapter books. It tells the story of Goodall’s life in an engaging format that helps kids transition into longer format biographies. There are plenty of illustrations and call out boxes to break up the longer text, keeping kids attention and teaching them about the fascinating life of this hero. I especially loved the “myth vs. fact” boxes sprinkled throughout the book, dispelling common misconceptions about Goodall and her beloved animals. Wonderful book to inspire any budding scientists!