8 Books for Children That Foster a Love of the Natural World

Help your child tangibly interact with nature through the power of reading

April 2nd is Children’s Book Day, and with the arrival of spring comes new opportunities for children to nurture their love for nature. There are so many excellent new books for children that are educational and inspiring. There's a story for every child, whether they’re looking for a book that allows them to tangibly interact with nature, learn more about their surroundings, or participate in environmental activism. 

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Fly, Firefly! by Shana Keller

Age Range: 5–7 years
Based on actual observations made by famous conservationist and writer Rachel Carson, Fly, Firefly follows the journey of a lone firefly carried by a gust of wind over the ocean. Meanwhile, a little girl observes this firefly searching for its family, eventually rescuing it, and sending it back home. This beautiful recognition of nature and its everyday wonders is recited in lyrical verse. Accompanied by stunning artwork, this book includes scientific information about fireflies and the life of Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring.

Zonia’s Rainforest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Age Range: 4–8 years
Created by Caldecott Honor and Robert F. Sibert Medal winner Juana Martinez-Neal, this profound picture book follows a young girl’s everyday adventures in the Amazon rainforest. Follow Zonia, an Asháninka girl, as she answers the calls of her home. Zonia visits a sloth family every day, runs with a jaguar, and says hello to a giant anteater. But, one day, the forest calls her in a troubled voice. This powerful story includes a translated version written in Asháninka. It also provides information about the Asháninka community and resources to help the Amazon rainforest.

A Walk in the Forest by Maria Dek

Age Range: 3–6 years
This interactive children’s book can be read aloud or used as a tool for your children to explore the outdoors! Nature is a plethora of creativity, and children can fully immerse themselves in its endless possibilities. A Walk in the Forest encourages your children to explore, use their imagination, and reflect on nature. This book will guide them to collect pinecones, listen to the trees, and follow deer tracks to an unknown world. Maria Dek’s visual storytelling and poetic prose invite your children to appreciate nature and its complexities.

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner

Age Range: 5–8 years
Kate Messner guides readers through an underwater wonderland, a children’s book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Discover what plants make up a mountain pond and the wildlife that thrives off the surrounding ecosystem. Beautiful visuals coincide with a simple story that encourages young readers to love nature. Educational and entertaining, Over and Under the Pond includes a glossary filled with all the animals around a typical mountain pond.

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Jayden’s Impossible Garden by Mélina Mangal

Age Range: 4–9 years
This compelling story about community gardens reminds young readers that Children can find nature in the most unexpected places. Jayden lives in an area with lots of traffic, people, and buildings. Yet, amongst it all, he still loves observing squirrels scurrying up trees, blooming flowers, and singing cardinals. But mama doesn’t believe that there’s nature in the city. With the help of his new friend Mr. Curtis, Jayden creates a community garden that helps mama and his neighbors believe that wildlife can thrive in the city. This beautiful story explores intergenerational relationships and the perseverance of nature in urban settings.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

Age Range: 3–6 years
Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal, this inspiring children’s book is based on the many indigenous-led movements across North America. It’s a children’s book that empowers children of all ages to get involved with environmental activism and protect the Earth’s water from harm and corruption. Written and illustrated by two indigenous women, this thought-provoking children’s book gently explores the concept of action through breathtaking visuals and poetic prose. Even if your child doesn’t understand everything discussed in this book, it’s a perfect starting point to educate them about the importance of water and its connection to living things.

A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel

Age Range: 3–5 years
Written by Caldecott Honor and New York Times bestselling author Brendan Wenzel, A Stone Sat Still explores the concept of perspective with the ever-changing environment of nature. Follow the story of a seemingly simple rock that impacts the lives of the animals that use it. Using a calm, gentle style of prose, Wenzel masterfully discusses the problematic concept of perception with a story that celebrates the everyday treasures of nature. As several animals rely on this seemingly ordinary rock, they appreciate it for its shelter, food, and safety.

Hike by Pete Oswald

Age Range: 4–8 years
Using only detailed panoramic illustrations, this heartwarming children’s book tells the story of a young child’s hike and a day spent with their dad. In the early morning hours of a calm and quiet day, a father and their child wake up to go on a hike. Follow the pair as they traverse obstacles, experience the wonders of nature, and play a role in the survival of the forest. By the time they get home, readers will have experienced a day they’ll never forget and an essential piece of family history. Pete Oswald narrates this tale with no visual dialogue, forcing readers to take in the view, live in the moment, and share a moving memory made between a child and their father.