Do your kids know about the water cycle? If you’re ready to introduce the water cycle for kids or to review it, start with one or more of the nonfiction and fiction picture books on this list.
After you read books and talk about what they learned, define what the water cycle is, and get into the specifics of the science including the diagrams (see one here) and definitions.
Depending on your students and children’s ages, consider doing related hands-on activities. I like to start with this bottle activity as an easy at-home experiment.
But you can introduce the water cycle to kids around the house, too. Explain to children how water droplets can be in three states — liquid, solid, and gas. Point out that snow and ice are examples of water in a solid state. Show children water vapor rising from a boiling pan and explain about water in both liquid (the boiling water) and gas (the vapor) forms. It’s pretty cool, right?
Now let’s dive into the best children’s books about the water cycle.
Water Cycle for Kids Books
Drop by Emily Kate Moon
Drop hangs out a lot in oceans. Sometimes she bounces in the air with her friends, making clouds, then it becomes rain. Drop loves her adventurous life — she’s been hail, snow, and glaciers, too and she never knows where she’ll fall. She could fall into a river and flow into a lake or fall into a forest where she gets pulled up by a plant’s roots and pushed out through a leaf. Narrated with pizazz and personality, read all the water cycle by following along with Drop’s exciting life.
The Rhythm of the Rain by Grahame Baker-Smith
A sparkling circular tribute to water in an oversized picture book with stunning imagery. The story begins with a young boy emptying his jar of water into a mountain pool leading into a river that flows into a great ocean. Follow the water on its journey leading to a whale, to the clouds, down in rain to a different river and ocean, and then back to the sky and rain again. Finally, the water goes back to the mountain pool where the boy named Issac is playing. Astonishingly magical.
Blue Floats Away by Travis Jonker, illustrated by Grant Snider
This circular story is about the water cycle and also a metaphor for change. Cool torn paper collage art shows Blue, a baby iceberg, getting dislodged from his big parents. He floats away and sees many new things, and makes new friends. As he floats, he gets smaller and turns into liquid, then evaporates into a cloud, seeing more new things. Soon he gets colder and colder until he becomes snow that falls onto his parents.
The Snowman and the Sun by Susan Taghdis, illustrated by Ali Mafakheri
Reading this story will reassure children that snowmen don’t really disappear–they reform. When the snowman melts into water, he evaporates and becomes a cloud. He likes being a cloud, although, eventually, he becomes snow, softly floating down to the ground in flakes. When the boy sees the snow, he builds the snowman again.
Water is Water by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin
I love this evocative and lyrical book that playfully explores the forms of water in a brother and sister’s lives. For example, “Water is water unless…” it heats up and becomes steam. Precise language and gorgeous illustrations make this a beautiful introduction to the water cycle.
Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery by Christy Mihaly, illustrated by Mariona Cabassa
A gorgeous tome that shares a lot of water information along with folktales, too. Learn about the water cycle, salt water, fresh water, the power of water, and more. Plus, lift the flap on the “Deeper Activities” for hands-on activities to apply what you’ve learned. Read stories like Where the Water Grows from Zimbabwe about Hippo, who helps Water find new plants. Beautiful borders and illustrations make this an eye-catching, appealing book essential for homeschool libraries, school libraries, and classrooms.
Ice Boy by David Ezra Stein
Ice Boy is born an ice cube, but he wants to explore the world, not just wait to be picked for someone’s drink. And so he does in a charming journey of exploration and the water cycle –like ice becomes water which becomes vapor!
Water by Melissa Stuart
Filled with colorful photographs, this is an appealing, informational level three reader about the water cycle for kids.
The Water Cycle at Work by Rebecca Jean Olien
In this nonfiction picture book for elementary readers, you’ll learn about evaporation, precipitation, condensation, clouds, humidity, and more. Clear writing with only a few sentences per page, bolded vocabulary words, and labeled illustrations make this a solid choice for instructional reading.
The Water Dance by Thomas Locker
Personified water narrates their life in the first person, dancing through the world. “Sometimes I cascade. I tumble down, down, over the moss-covered rocks, through the forest shadows. I am the mountain stream.” Rich with poetic language and beautiful imagery.