Check out our list of fiction nature books for kids, which might just inspire them to spend even more time outdoors!
(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you, helping to support this blog. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Books have a beautiful way of sparking imagination, transporting us to another world, and helping us see things from a different perspective. When the focus is the world outside, kids can learn about the plants and animals around them, all while immersing themselves in a story. I’ve compiled a list of fiction books that will help inspire kids of all ages who love nature and the outdoors.
Do you have any favorites below? (One of my sons listens to Gary Paulsen audiobooks on repeat!)
You will find books from the following categories:
The Wild Robot | Peter Brown | ages 7-10 – You may not have asked yourself whether or not a robot could survive in the wilderness, but this book provides you with the answer. Suddenly stranded on a remote island Roz (a robot) has to adapt to her surroundings and befriend the local animals in order to survive. Bear vs. Roz — who will win?
The Trail | Meika Hashimoto | ages 8+ – 11-yr-old Toby is determined to walk the Appalachian Trail to fulfil a pact he once made with his best friend. Hiking the trail solo wasn’t his original plan, but what ensues is a riveting story of courage, friendship, harrowing experiences and survival.
A Wolf Called Wander | Rosanne Parry | ages 8-11 – This book is inspired by the true story of a wolf named OR-7/Journey. Swift is a young wolf pup who finds himself separated from his family and alone in the Pacific Northwest. In his search for a new home he travels an incredible 1000 miles and encounters many dangers and difficulties along the way. It’s a beautifully written story that also includes fascinating descriptions and beautiful illustrations of the natural world Swift encounters.
Out of Range | Heidi Lang | ages 8-12 – Three warring sister find themselves stranded in the wilderness and need to learn to get along and support each other in order to survive. (Described as “[Gary Paulsen’s] Hatchet meets Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters“.)
Nature Girl | Jane Kelley | ages 8-12 – A twist on the classic survival story, this book tells the tale of 11-yr-old Meghan who gets lost on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. With her dog by her side, she decides to walk all the way to Massachusetts to find her best friend. Through all the challenges, she gets to know herself better and proves herself to be brave, loyal and perseverant.
Hatchet | Gary Paulsen | ages 9+ – An exciting survival story about a boy lost in the Canadian wilderness, the book speaks beautifully about his developing and evolving connection with nature. If you like this one, be sure to read the rest of the incredible books in the Brian’s Saga series: The River, Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Return and Brian’s Hunt.
Island of the Blue Dolphins | Scott O’Dell | ages 8-11 – 12-year-old Karana finds herself stranded alone on an island off the California coast and has to learn to survive on her own. She makes a life for herself, building a close kinship with some of the animals on the island.
Julie of the Wolves | Jean Craighead George | ages 8-12 – Mijax/Julie finds herself lost on the Alaskan tundrea and learns to survive by copying the ways of a pack of wolves, with whom she subsequently forms a bond. If you enjoy this book, don’t miss its sequels: Julie and Julie’s Wolf Pack.
My Side of the Mountain | Jean Craighead George | ages 8-12 – Not happy with life in the big city, Sam runs away to live alone in the Catskill Mountains. With just a few simple tools, he needs to learn to survive – and thrive – on his own in the wilderness. He befriends a falcon and a weasel, learns to live off the land, and grows in courage and independence. If you enjoy this book, don’t miss its sequels: Frightful’s Mountain and On the Far Side of the Mountain.
Call of the Wild | Jack London | ages 12+ – Buck is stolen from his owner and put to work in as a sled dog. He has to quickly adapt from his previous (domesticated) life and learn to survive and adapt to the ways of the wilderness of the Yukon and Alaska. He faces cruelty and suffering, but also friendship and love from both men and dogs.
FOR THE YOUNG NATURALIST (fiction nature books for kids)
Turtle Splash!: Countdown at the Pond | Cathryn Falwell | ages 1-3 – This countdown book also introduces children to different animals who visit the pond, from a rabbit to a chickadee to a bullfrog.
The Snowy Day | Ezra Jack Keats | ages 1-5 – This classic (and much-celebrated) book captures the wonder of a snowy day, following a boy on his small adventures in a snow-blanketed world. It reminds us of the simple joys of being in nature with no agenda.
The Hike | Alison Farrell | ages 1-5 – This book tells the story of three girls, their friendship, and their adventures in the forest, and the flora and fauna they see along the way. The friends draw, observe wildlife, and follow a map, and readers learn the simple joy of exploring nature.
The Honeybee | Kirsten Hall | ages 1-5 – Follow the story of a sweet honeybee as it travels from flower to flower. It highlights the importance of these pollinators while telling readers about the honeybee’s travels and about life inside the hive.
In the Small, Small Pond | Denise Fleming | ages 2-3 – Readers can experience a “frog’s eye view” of a pond throughout the seasons. Through rhymes, they learn about the small animals and insects around the freshwater pond and the beauty of the natural world.
A Walk in the Forest | Maria Dek | ages 3-6 – This book reminds readers that a forest is the “best playground ever”. It also introduces different activities to do on a hike/nature walk, while encouraging readers to explore, be curious, and play independently.
Miss Maple’s Seeds | Eliza Wheeler | ages 3-6 – Readers learn the importance and magic of some of the tiniest things: seeds. Miss Maple is a loving caretaker who sees the potential of “orphan seeds” and cares for them until they are ready to be planted.
The Curious Garden | Peter Brown | ages 3-6 – In a grey and dreary city, a young boy comes across a neglected garden and decides to bring it back to life, not realizing the wide-ranging transformation he’s put into motion. The garden spreads and revives the city, turning it into a lush landscape. The book reminds us of the power of a single individual and the importance of caring for nature.
I Hear You, Forest | Kallie George | ages 3-7 – A young child steps into the forest, opens her ears and is enchanted by the many sounds of nature. This book helps teach empathy and connection, mindfulness and appreciation, showing the world that can be discovered if we just stop to listen.
Finding Wild | Megan Wagner Lloyd and Abigail Halpin | ages 3-7 – Two kids set off on a nature adventure and discover that the wild isn’t so far away. They discover the beauty of the natural world around them, opening their eyes to what was always there.
Outside In | Deborah Underwood | ages 3-7 – This book reminds us that our connection to nature is ever-present, even if we happen to be indoors.
The Garden Next Door | Collin Pine | ages 3-7 – Three children investigate why their own garden is barren but their neighbor’s is full of life, and decide to make some changes of their own.
The Not-So Great Outdoors | Madeline Kloepper | ages 3-7 – This book tells the story of a “grumpy urban kid” is forced to go camping with her family. She misses the city and technology, but slowly comes to appreciate the wonders of nature and the value of unplugging.
My Mud Kitchen is Rad | Allison Bakkum | ages 4-8 – Follow two kids as they play in the rain and enjoy the magic of mud play.
Steve the Dung Beetle on a Roll | Susan R. Stoltz | ages 4-8 – Steve the dung beetle goes on a journey, rolling his ball of poo! With each friend that he passes, we learn how he’s helping each one of them and their environment. Warning: You may start hearing your kids recite “Hey, Steve! Why are you rolling that ball of poo?”
Old Rock (is not boring) | Deb Pilutti | ages 4-8 – Old Rock may look boring to some that pass by, but he has quite a few stories to tell! Life in the forest definitely isn’t boring.
The Golden Glow | Benjamin Flouw | ages 4-8 – Fox heads out on a journey to find a rare, mysterious specimen. He meets friends along the way and observed different plants an animals. But when he finally finds the Golden Glow? Read on to find out what he decides!
You & Me in the Trees | Amoris Walker | ages 6-8 – Reminding us to help protect nature for future generations, this beautiful book inspires kids’ wonder and awe along with and a sense of responsibility and stewardship.
Pax | Sarah Pennypacker | ages 8-11 – This award-winning book tells the beautiful relationship between a boy and his fox who both strike out on adventures to try to find each other after being separated.
Journey Beyond the Burrow | Rina Heisel | ages 8-12 – The story of a mouse who must rescue his baby brother, this book shows us that nature can be “unpredictable, occasionally frightening, and inspirational all the same”.
Reading is a powerful thing, able to transport us to a whole new world and while teaching us all about it. Kids who love nature and the outdoors will appreciate this list of fiction books, where they can learn anything from wilderness survival to inviting creatures into their backyard garden. What new favorite will they read today?
Don’t miss our list of non-fiction books for kids who love nature and spending time outdoors:
50+ Must-Read Non-Fiction Books for Kids (and Parents) Who Love Nature and the Outdoors