Books about nature are a great way to introduce the wonders of our earth to young children. But beyond the colorful illustrations and rhyming words, our favorite nature books for kids are thought-provoking. They touch on important environmental concepts like climate change, habitat protection, and preserving natural resources. After all, our children are the future custodians of our planet.
In this article, I share 10 of the most beautiful and inspiring nature books for kids that I have read and gifted. I love nature books, and I'm sure your kids will love these beautiful books too. All of these books about nature we've picked out inspire an appreciation for our natural world and educate us at the same time.
10 Of The Best Nature Books For Kids
1. The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes
This is one of those picture books halfway between fantasy and reality, which makes it relatable yet full of intrigue to keep younger readers interested. The Little Gardener is a beautifully illustrated picture book, and I think the detail makes it one of the most popular nature books.
The story is relatively short, so I'd recommend it for kids aged between 3 to 6. But everyone can enjoy the visual treat and lessons the book offers. A little secret – you can use this book to encourage young kids to get into gardening. They'll imagine they're also helping some miniature gardener in their own backyard.
The Little Gardener shares the story of a tiny boy gardener who's about the size of an adult's thumb. He lives in a garden and tries hard to cultivate it without much success because he's too small. But he never gives up, inspired by a single flower that blooms in the garden.
One night, the tired miniature gardener makes a wish for some help and falls asleep. He woke up a month later to see that his wish had come true; some regular-sized kids had been tending the garden, and it was now in full bloom.
2. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Set in a concrete jungle with no gardens or greenery, this book explores the serious environmental issue of deforestation. It is a picture book filled with colorful illustrations from page to page. Personally, Liam's initial clumsy attempts at gardening are pretty funny and a reminder that it's okay not to know everything at first.
The Curious Garden is one of my favorite picture books about nature, but there are a lot of words, too. I would recommend it for kids aged 4 to 8, although you can read it aloud to younger kids. For me, the key takeaway from this book is that it's okay to be eco-friendly even if a lot of people around us aren't. They'll catch on sooner or later if we don't give up.
Liam is a young boy living in a city where people don't have gardens and no blooming fields. The people stayed indoors all day, but not little Liam. He was an adventurer who liked to take long walks around his city. One day, he stumbled on a patch of grass and wildflowers that were struggling to stay alive.
The young boy steps up to the task and begins to tend the garden. Soon, the garden spreads throughout the city, much like its adventurous gardener. Other people soon joined Liam in his gardening efforts, and the whole city became a lush green. This book might even inspire your kids to start a community garden all of their own.
3. A River by Marc Martin
A beautifully crafted picture book, heavy on gorgeous illustrations and light on words, this is one of those nature books for kids that teach them to be curious and notice details about the natural world.
Although it isn't evident in words, Marc Martin's A River highlights the issue of industrial pollution. The illustrations show a factory landscape with dark liquid flowing into the river and a sky full of smoke - a great discussion starter with your kids about pollution.
A young girl sits by her window, gazing at the river stretching out before her. She wonders where the vast river goes, and soon, she begins a transcendent and aspirational journey in her little silver boat. She is swept through the city, passing through a smoky factory area and towards the farmlands.
The river takes her further through green fields and over a giant waterfall across this richly illustrated imaginative landscape. She sails through the deep jungle and ends up in the ocean. A look over the side of her boat shows her many fishes swimming in the beautiful ocean.
It soon begins to rain, and the ocean becomes tumultuous. As the clouds clear, the little girl finds herself back in her room, a child inspired by nature, looking out the window.
4. The Wonder Garden by Jenny Broom
If you are looking for nature books for kids aged between 5 and 10, The Wonder Garden is a beautifully illustrated book and an excellent choice. Designed by award-winning illustrator Kristjana Williams, the enchanting cover design looks like a doorway to a fairy tale land, but it's still the Earth on the other side.
The stunning picture book has only one drawback. It contains over 80 pictures of animals, and not all of them are represented in scientifically accurate size comparison; nevertheless, I think it is a fun way to introduce your kids to nature study.
The Wonder Garden is not a storybook per se. It is more like the reader is on a trip around the world, and the author is a tour guide. The book takes young readers through five awesome habitats in the world: the Amazon rainforest, the Chihuahuan Desert, the Black Forest, the Himalayan Mountains, and the Great Barrier Reef.
With simple explanations, the author presents some fascinating facts about nature. Such as how you can spot the Great Barrier Reef from outer space. Learning how plants and wild animals survive in the hot Chihuahuan Desert is particularly interesting.
5. Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd
Finding Wild is a lyrical picture book that makes for happy reading. The book starts with an important question for kids, "what is wild, and where can you find it?” This book teaches kids that the wild exists and is closer than Nat Geo Wild makes it seem.
The author thoroughly explores the world's natural wonders, combing through far and near places. I enjoy how the book doesn't shy away from showing the not-so-flowery side of nature. We see that nature can hurt, sting, burn, and be intimidating. Further, there's a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for the variety of nature throughout.
In this book, two kids set off from their urban home on a round-the-world adventure seeking the wild. The narrator narrated from page to page about the variations of the wilds, speaking of it almost as if it were a person. The kids start the journey from a lush green garden, and they pass through a swampy area with snakes and other reptiles.
Their next stop is a riverside with vegetation and mountains on the horizon. On the rest of their journey, the kids run from a forest fire, explore the snow region, dance in a valley of flowers, and do many other things. Returning to the paved and noisy streets closer to home, they appreciate the value of nature in their backyard.
6. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
You might want to read this book aloud to your children- it’s a bit more text-heavy than some others, even with beautiful illustrations. The author successfully turns the stark reality of nature into a fairytale-like story. However, we still observe some pretty tragic moments.
It is best to read books about nature like these to young children rather than letting them go along with it so that you can offer explanations where necessary. The book is a wonderful introduction to the year's four seasons and how they affect plants.
Eric Carle takes the life cycle of plants and weaves a heartfelt story around all the beauty they offer. The autumn wind swept the small seed with plenty of other bigger seeds. The wind carries the seeds far away over a long period.
Some seeds do not make it as they fall into the ocean or are eaten by animals. The small seed survives all the challenges the great outdoors throws at it and grows into a beautiful giant flower. But soon, the autumn wind again blows away the flower's seeds. And once again, a new journey begins for a group of tiny little seeds.
7. Drop by Emily Kate Moon
Drop: An Adventure through the Water Cycle is possibly the most charming story I have ever read and definitely one of my favorite nature books. The illustrations are beautiful, and they deliver the book's messages with impact. I love that the book is so simply written that even a child with basic reading skills can read through it with minimal help.
The writing style makes for an exciting read. I think what stands out for me are the water facts pages that share additional information about the water cycle. They simply explain concepts like precipitation, evaporation, crystallization, etc.
This story follows Drop, who is a literal drop of water. She's been living on Earth for a long time and experienced the most wonderful things, including dinosaurs. Drop shows us her adventurous life, from lounging in the sea to becoming invisible and floating toward the sky.
We meet Drop and her friends and learn that things get electrifying up in the clouds. She likes this because it turns her into the rain, and always enjoys falling into different places. Drop has been a snowflake, hail, and groundwater too. She has also been in our food and our bodies.
8. You Belong Here by M.H. Clark
If you are looking for bedtime nature books for kids, this children's book should be among your top considerations. You Belong Here is a sweet and calming picture book that speaks of belonging right where we are and are loved.
This is one of those nature books that families can read aloud at bedtime to encourage kids to settle in just right. The book's illustrator, Isabelle Arsenault, uses cool tones that give the perfect nighttime story ambiance.
I like that you can stop at certain places in the book like you would after each poem stanza and have your young listener enjoy it in parts.
The book has a poetic feel to its choice and flow of words; see an excerpt in the next sentence. "The stars belong in the deep night sky, and the moon belongs there too, and the winds belong in each place they blow by, and I belong here with you."
From page to page, the book shows different animals and natural phenomena in the world's habitat or space of function. We see the different places fishes belong. Where the trees, birds, deer, rabbits, and other wonderful creatures belong. So, even though it's essentially an illustrated poem, it is an easy way to increase kids' knowledge about animals and the wonders of nature.
9. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
I think you could inspire children to become nature lovers and protectors of the environment with children's books like this. This ever-popular fun book shows how mindless progress in technological and economic developments can come back to haunt us unless some people care enough to defend nature against greedy industrialists.
This book raises questions about conserving resources, recycling, and the circular economy. This is one of those rather long but beautiful nature books. It is not too heavy on words and has a lot of rhyming words and rich illustrations.
The Lorax tells the story of the Once-ler and a magical creature, the Lorax. The Once-ler arrives at a town teeming with truffula trees and sees an opportunity to make thneeds (“A-Fine-Thing-That-People-Need”) out of the trees. He ignores the complaints and warnings of Lorax, who is the spokesman for the trees. Once-ler exploits the trees for financial gain, pollutes the river, smogs the air, and all the animals in the area are forced to leave.
Still, the Once-ler carries on, manufacturing more thneeds and getting richer. Soon, the last truffula tree is cut down, leaving the land barren and polluted. The Lorax disappears into thin air, and the Once-ler is left to deal with the consequences of his greed.
10. Stretch To The Sun: From Tiny Sprout To The Tallest Tree on Earth by Carrie A. Pearson
This book is filled with colorful illustrations and tells kids about the real wonder of nature. It's about the tallest tree in the world. I think the book is easy to read, although toddlers might need some help because of the poetic feel of the book.
For older readers like myself, the additional information page at the back of the book is a major win. It provides all sorts of interesting facts about redwood trees. It's beautifully written, and kids will love it.
In Stretch To The Sun, the author imagines how the tallest tree in the world must have grown from a tiny sprout. The little tree grows from the fallen stump of another tree. It is protected and nourished by other trees, animals, and sunlight. It survives a fire and narrowly escapes being chopped up as timber.
The tree in the book is based on a coastal redwood tree in the Redwood National Park in northern California. The tree, the tallest living, is about 600 to 800 years old and over 380 feet tall. Like a superhero, the tree's identity is hidden despite its well-known story.
Children's nature books can inspire love and care for the natural world. They can encourage them to reduce screen time and explore nature. - Especially if you pair these picture books with indoor hands-on activities or outdoor activities.
The picture books about nature on this list teach kids about the importance of living things and how to care for them from the very beginning of their reading journeys. They will delight readers, young and old.