10 Great Books for Kids Who Love Nature

Do your children love the outdoors? Then let them enjoy the beauty of the wilderness from inside as well. When it’s time read, allow them to explore the wilds beyond your backyard with these fabulous nature-themed books.

Picture Books for Younger Children

The Salamander Room

By Anne Mazer

In this wonderful book, a little boy brings home a salamander from the woods and wants to keep it as a pet. His mother patiently explains all the things that he would need to make a proper home for the salamander. As the story progresses, the boy learns that his room must turn into the forest itself before it can house the little critter and he chooses to leave the salamander where it is. A great way to talk to kids about the concept of habitat, the book is a must-read for kiddos who love to gather up those backyard creepy crawlies.

Thirteen Moons on a Turtle’s Back

By Joseph Bruchac

This book begins with an Abenaki Indian boy talking to his grandfather about the thirteen scales on the turtle’s back that represent the year’s thirteen full moons. The story is a journey through each moon of the year and opens up a great discussion about the way nature changes through the seasons.

The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein

Poetry turns to prose in Silverstein’s story of a life-long relationship between a boy and a tree, chronicling the aging of them both. The simple language still tells a powerful story about friendship and coming of age. It’s a good opener to talk about the ways that nature provides our natural resources, and the gratitude we ought to have.

The Lorax

By Dr. Seuss

This lyrical story tells the remarkable tale of the Lorax, defender of the trees, and his arch-nemesis, the Once-ler, who is determined to chop the trees down to feed production in his factory. The last part of the story is an exhortation from the Lorax for children to care for nature. It’s a wonderful way to introduce children to complex issues like sustainable development.

The Other Way to Listen

By Byrd Baylor

Set in the southwest, this story tells of the relationship between a young boy and a tribe elder, who is revered for his ability to listen to the natural world. The book describes the boy’s journey to acquire the ability to listen. It is a wonderful way to get kids thinking about the importance of nature observation.

Chapter Books for Big Kids

My Side of the Mountain

By Jean Craighead George

This story tells the remarkable tale of a twelve-year-old boy who returns to an area of the Catskills once owned by his family and there makes an effort to live off the land by trapping, fishing, and gathering native plants. It’s an adventure story and can also teach kids a lot about wild edibles and other survival skills.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

By Scott O’Dell

The Newberry Award-winning book is about a teenage girl, a member of a Native American tribe that inhabited an island off the California coast. When the rest of her tribe leaves the island, she’s left behind by herself and survives there for 18 years before being rescued. It’s a great segue into a discussion about concepts like using natural resources wisely for survival, and respecting all creatures in the wild.

Bridge to Terabithia

By Katherine Paterson

Two lonely school children with vivid imaginations swing across a creek into a magical forest kingdom called Terabithia, where they can escape for a while from their world. This sad and beautiful story can open a good discussion about the ways that nature provides a place for people to relax and cope with stress.

Where the Red Fern Grows

By Wilson Rawls

This beautiful book chronicles the adventures of a boy and his two coon hounds, set in the wild woods of the Oklahoma Ozarks during the Depression. This story is a great way to talk to kids about the close relationship between humans and animals.

The Secret Garden

By Frances Hodgson Burnett

The language of this book, originally published in 1910, might seem old-fashioned, but the story of a girl who is sent home to England from India to live in the countryside – and of her discovery of a secret walled garden and a long-lost cousin is sure to capture their attention. The story provides a great example of the healing potential of the natural world.

What books do you read to your children to foster a love of nature? Tell us in the comments below!

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