I love discovering more nature-themed picture books I can use with my kids or in the classroom. Plus, these are just in time for spring Earth Day celebrations. Introduce your young naturalists to bees, animal sounds, seashells, worms, and more!
New Picture Books for Young Naturalists (2019)
Who Is Sleeping? A Lift-the-Flap Book by Petr Horacek
Introduce your babies and toddlers to sleeping animals like a bear, a frog, and a fish in their habitats like a river or a tree in this interactive board book.
Animals on the Go (National Geographic Kids)
Full-color photos show young readers moving — slithering, hopping, sliding. I like the simple text plus the bonus circle insets of info and goofy thought bubbles.
Hello Honeybees by Hannah Rogge, illustrated by Emily Dove
Kids will love attached bees that can buzz through this hive-shaped shaped board book! Narrated by the bees, your young naturalists will learn about sipping the flower’s nectar, doing the waggle dance, and making honey.
When the Bees Buzzed Off! by Lula Bell, illustrated by Stephen Bennett
The bugs are panicked because they can’t find the bees. They search and search everywhere for the bees who pollinate plants which hungry bugs like them like to eat. Silly conversations filled with personality pepper their search as well as lift-the-flaps to learn information about bees. Soon Worm, Snail, and Beetle are almost ready to give up — until they finally find the bees in a field of flowers. To get the bees back to their garden, the bugs collect wildflower seeds and plant them…and the bees come back! Kids will resonate with these charming bugs’ search as well as learn the importance of bees in the world.
Seashells More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Informative and beautiful, this picture book will make you long to visit the seashore to find your own seashells. Written in dual-layered figurative language text, readers will read the basics of shells in the first layer of bigger text size — “Seashells can pry like a crowbar . . . or bore holes like a drill bit. // Seashells can flit and flitter like a butterfly . . . or curl up tight like an armadillo.” Secondary text elaborates on the specific types of shells. “A scallop spends most of its time lying on the ocean floor. But when a predator attacks, the scallop claps its valves together to propel itself out of harm’s way…” Illustrated with soft watercolor illustrations that show the seashells in the ocean and beach plus insets of a science notebook showing one of the 13 shells labeled with important details.
Caterpillar and Bean A First Science Storybook by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Hannah Tolson
This is the story of a seed wedged in a crack in the ground that swells with the rain. See how the root pushes out the shoots and leaves. This is also the story of a caterpillar who hatches from an egg, eats and eats the leaves of the plant, and turns into a beautiful butterfly. You’ll enjoy the enthusiastic, lyrical story which develops several naturalist topics including seed and plant growth and the life cycle of a butterfly in this latest nonfiction picture book in Martin Jenkin’s First Science Storybook series.
Birds by Carme Lemniscates
Delectable, eye-pleasing illustrations are a feast for your eyes in this lovely introduction to the wonders of birds in different sizes, colors, and personalities. “Some birds are very noisy. Others sing a sweet and tender song.” Added to: Beautiful Bird Books for Kids.
Boom! Bellow! Bleat! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt
Want to get your kids into poetry? Start with this book! Georgia Heard is already a favorite mentor for teaching children to write. Now, her new book of children’s poetry might just be my new favorite for two or more children to read out loud. Not only will kids understand the beauty of words, oral reading, and imagery but they’ll see the playfulness in poetry and discover new animal sounds they’ve never known.
The poems are written in several colors. Children will choose the color of text to read (black or red, for example) starting with the poem “Animal Songs.” One reader reads the animal name written in black text. The other reads that animal’s sound written in red text. (“Kangaroos / Chortle“) The book is filled with the noise of fish, geese, frogs, mockingbirds, snakes, bees, and many more animals.
“Songsters of the Sea”
in a sapphire sea.
My watery hymn
serenades humpback whales
thousands of miles away.
Like an echo.
I hear a whale sing.
my song back to me.
(This is an excerpt, not the full poem.)
I adore the many sounds of elephants. So will you. Listen: Sort, ruuuuummmble, roar, cry, bark, …
This is a MUST-OWN book for teachers and school libraries, homeschoolers and poetry-loving parents. It captures the most interesting sounds of nature. Kids will clamor to read these with parents, teachers, friends, and classmates.
Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman
Everyone has a purpose, even worms! Carl is an earthworm with a big question — why does he do what he does? (In other words, why does he dig, tunnel, and turn dirt into soil?) He leaves the dirt to ask other animals which help him realize that he’s creating rich dirt for plants to grow in. This story shows readers that even worms have a purpose.
Picture the Sky by Barbara Reid
The best thing about this book is the three-dimensional, eye-catching artwork. But the text is also impressive — with how the author personifies the sky and gives readers metaphors that make us see the sky differently. Teachers, use this as a writing prompt. ADDED TO: Mentor Texts to Teach Personification.
Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Micha Archer
Look at spring in a completely new way! This book writes “equations” that will inspire readers to see the unique possibilities in writing like this. I suggest using this book as a writing prompt to integrate STEM with literacy. Here are a few examples:
snowman – cold = puddle
riverbanks + otters = playground
deer + tree = umbrella
talons + pond = fast food
Each equation is accompanied by a short exposition on the subject. “In spring, bald eagles that wintered down south fly north again. On their way to the northern United States and Canada, they swoop down to scoop up tasty fish dinners.” ADDED TO: Best Picture Books About Spring.
Brother, Sister, Me and You by Mary Quattlebaum
Celebrate the sibling bond among animals with gorgeous photographs that match the animal’s actions. “Guppies flash with finny flicks.” In my experience, children prefer photographs to illustrations of animals so I know this book will be a lovely read-aloud choice for your young readers.
Lawrence in the Fall by Matthew Farina, illustrated by Doug Salati
The teacher’s assignment is to bring something you collect. Everyone has something to bring except Lawrence. His Papa takes him for a walk in the forest. Looking around, Lawrence notices a beautiful leaf. He collects more unique leaves. On show and tell day, his classmates pick leaves to take home. The back page shows different kinds of leaves to inspire your own leaf collection. Gorgeous, textured illustrations!
The Alphabet of Peculiar Creatures by Katie Abey
Kids who like wacky and weird will adore this book of unusual creatures starting with A for Axolotol and continuing to J for Jerboa and Z for Zebu. Each page shows an illustration of the animal plus the pronunciation and a sentence or two of information about the animal. I’m loving this book! “Q is for QUOKKA (KWAH-KA) Quokkas are small, furry creatures related to kangaroos. They are about the same size as a cat, and always look like they are smiling.”
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