Picture books about nature to make your child fall in love with their world.
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34 Picture Books That Will Teach Your Kid To Love The World They Inhabit

With beautiful illustrations and lovely lessons, they’ll want to be a part of their world even more with these sweet books.

Originally Published: 

Children's book characters have always been a natural fit in the wild world (think: The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Secret Garden, Where the Wild Things Are), but the last few years have brought a storm of gentle, thoughtful, sharp, and fantastical picture books that focus on nature.

This resurgence in picture books about nature has come into being in the midst of bushfires, drought, flooding, and days in New York City where people found themselves walking around in tank tops despite it being January. For the many parents who experience climate angst, or climate grief, books are a useful tool for teaching their kids about the importance of nature — those who want to preserve "untrammeled" wilderness know the paradox that people have to visit wilderness to connect with and appreciate it. And a piece of artwork — a picture book, say — is a nice analog for the natural splendor we can't always experience firsthand. No wonder kids love them.

Whether you're a hiker, gardener, birdwatcher, or resolute car-camper, these books offer a gorgeous way for young readers to connect with the world they live in. Some are upcoming titles to add to your buy list, and some are already quietly awaiting you on the shelves at your local bookstore. Open each one, and you'll recall John Muir's observation that "going out, I found, was really going in."

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A Book About Grandmothers & The Magic Of Gardens

When Brooke visits her grandmother's house "at the end of a long cinder lane, surrounded by meadows and pine trees and sky," her grandmother asks her to take on a very important job: She is to remember the wild words that are disappearing from our language. So they tour the outside world, searching for words ("dandelion" is "fairy dust sitting on a stem"). The words become something Brooke can carry with her after she leaves her grandmother's house, and forever after that.


A Book About The Joy Of Camping

Ride along on a girl's first camping trip. From excitement while packing to fear when sleeping in a tent, and back to the wonder of being immersed in in nature, this book shows the joy of being outdoors.


A Book About A Beautiful Hike

A father and child head out early one morning on a big adventure that is wordless and expansive. There are hard climbs to beautiful vistas, tiny details to notice along the way, pit stops to enjoy some trail mix, and the suggestion that this single-day hike is part of a much bigger journey. More than just enjoy nature, the pair do their little part to protect it.


A Book Told From The Perspective Of A Worm

Goodnight, Veggies by Diana Murray and Zachariah OHora ($17.99, Amazon)

Take a worm's-eye view of a vegetable garden. Families who don't have a garden of their own can learn all about where their favorite veggies come from.

Forthcoming, March 10, 2020


A Book About Three Little Girls On A Hike

Three intrepid girls go on a grand adventure. Readers get to spot wildlife along with them. This ones good for lovers of nonfiction as well, because it's full of terms and wildlife identification.


A Book About Connecting To Nature

Even when we live most of our days indoors, we are still forever connected to nature. This book is lyrical and lush and invites us to look at all the ways we are still connected to nature.


A Book About Passing Away & Mourning

The concept of passing away from life is a hard subject to broach, but it's reassuring that animals have their own ways to mourn. This is a poetic look at our interconnectedness with animals and our planet.


A Book About Ecosystems

Explore the food chain and all the dynamics between plants and animals and their ecosystems. Readers can see how taking away one species can have a big impact on the surrounding world.


A Book About Indigenous-Led Movements To Protect Our Environment

This book celebrates indigenous-led movements to protect our planet's water. With gorgeous illustrations, it gives readers a sense of our connectivity.


A Book About What Earth Does For Us

Celebrate all the things Earth does for us inhabitants and take a look at how we can take care of Earth in return. This book has cut-outs that create a sense of wonder about the world your reader is entering.


A Book About The Growth Of A Garden

This large-format book about a sister and brother, Plum and Robin, exploring their garden, opens up page after page of wonders for young readers peeking underneath the flaps and taking in the paper flowers Giuliani, a graphic designer, has built into the book.

Peek inside the garden shed to see tools hanging up, watch bulbs sprouting into bloom, and open up a flower to see the stamen, pistil, and ovule inside.


A Book About A Curious Owl

Everyone in Oliver's family always asks "Who?" but Oliver wants to know more about the world around him. There are so many questions to ask!


A Book About Soaking Up Everything Around Us

Not strictly a book about nature, this is a story about two little friends who manage to bottle the beautiful days they spend outside watching the stars, or a meadow in bloom, or fall leaves, prolonging the magic. When Evelyn moves away, Llewellyn is lonely until he tries to send his friend a jar of the sky, proving the two are part of the same thing.

A sweet story about loss and friendship, In a Jar also rich with a sense of how nature connects us over great distances.


A Book About Dickinson’s Nature-Inspired Poetry

This look at the life of poet Emily Dickinson goes inside her imagination, and is full of the flowers and bugs and scenes that inspired her poetry. With Dickinson's poetry throughout, this is a gentle look at our place on Earth as stewards and witnesses to beauty.


A Book About Using Your Imagination In Nature

Kids can marvel at the world through the experience of a stone. Sure the stone doesn't move, but all around, the world comes alive. The illustrations are gorgeous and will invite kids to take a new view of nature.


A Book About Snow

Neighbors come together to marvel at the first few flakes of a snowfall and soon have adventures in the deepening snow. This book explores all the different kinds of snow and winter weather, and finds the good in it all.


A Book About Earth Hour

Explore how people around the world use energy, and join in a global effort to observe Earth Hour, turning off nonessential electric lights and working together to have a big impact!


A Book About Hiding Out In Nature

Kids love forts, and this book has the ultimate nature hideout. There are no limits on what you can play and how you can imagine your life outdoors.


A Book About The National Parks

You Are Home by Evan Turk ($18.99, Amazon)

An illustrated ode to the United States' great national parks. Filled with breathtaking sights, the animals and landscapes that capture each park will create a sense of how important it is to preserve these places.


A Book About Trees

Look at trees from a new perspective. They are a lot more like us than we might realize. Curious kids will eat this one up, because it's full of facts!


A Book About The Power Of Water

This book for middle-grade readers is about a girl who is drawn to a lake, despite the fact that her twin brother drowned in it. She spends the summer studying the lake and man's environmental impact on it.


A Book About People & Their Stories In Nature

A child thrives in his seaside house, gathering “faraway things” that have washed up on the beach. This story is exciting and there’s more than what’s on the surface. Underneath the things that wash ashore, there are stories of people and their choices.


A Book About Bats

A young girl has been fascinated with bats since one was rescued from her attic. She loves bats, but her new neighborhood doesn’t have any because of environmental concerns. Amara is an activist at heart and rallies the community to provide the parkland what it needs to welcome the bats home. Bonus bat facts are included!


A Book About A Hurricane

A boy has a beloved rickety dock near his house on the riverside. But when a hurricane rolls through, his neighborhood gets battered by the storm and his dock washes away. The community helps him rebuild. For the curious readers, there are diagrams that explain how hurricanes are formed.


A Book About Birds

The linocuts in this book alone are worth buying the book. You could frame each of these spreads and hang them on your wall. But you also get a dearth of information about all kinds of birds, from raptors to penguins; and about their characteristics, from feathers to flocks.


A Book About The Forest & Its Wildlife

Part field-guide, part coffee-table book, young naturalists will not only pore over this book, they’ll be eager to get out into the forest and observe all the wildlife.


A Book About Whales

A boy can hear a whale calling to him, and he learns of the harm whaling has inflicted on generations of whales. But there is hope to this new beginning, as the whale has come to the bay to give birth. Based on the endangered right whales, this book encourages readers to learn about the whales in their nearest waters and find ways to protect them.


A Book About Flowers

A celebration of looking at things closely, really close. Upon detailed inspection, flowers can contain worlds. This book is dizzyingly vibrant and exuberant.


A Book About Bumblebees

Older readers interested in bees, their importance in our ecosystems, their complex and fascinating behavior, and the way humans have impacted them, will devour this book.


A Book About The World At Dusk

With a spirit of adventure, neighborhood kids play together and marvel at the natural world. Never has a book so perfectly captured those long summer evenings where kids play and stay outside and catch fireflies like this one.


A Book About The Wonders Of The Forest

When a girl finds a perfect spot for a fort, she starts planning. But when she needs help, she leads a team of forest animals who understand her visions. The illustrations capture the magic of the forest: the life, the light, the vegetation. This will get young minds dreaming.


A Book About Cougars

This nonfiction account of a celebrity cougar P-22 details the struggles he faced being born into a small wildlife “island” in Los Angeles. Studying him and cougars like him, help gain public support for a wildlife bridge to help connect these animals with larger ecosystems.


A Book About Beautiful Seascapes

A metaphor about facing life’s challenges and exploring, swimming and staying afloat, this lyrical book includes page after page of beautiful seascapes teeming with life.


A Book About A Bird

A child builds a bird. Tiny, weightless bones, fluffy feathers, and a lot of hope and life. When the bird is completed, the child lets the bird go and it takes to the sky. Dreamy, gorgeous, and full of wonder.