There are so many incredible non-fiction books out there for kids who love nature and spending time outdoors. We’ve chosen a few of them that we hope will inspire, entertain and inform your kids, encouraging them to step outside and connect with nature. They tell stories of adventure, teach kids about the natural world, and provide numerous activity ideas.
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In addition to the non-fiction nature books for kids, we’ve also included a collection of books for parents, caregivers and educators that provide inspiration, motivation, tools and ideas for those wanting to help encourage children outdoors.
We’ve included books from the following categories:
- books for the young naturalist (ages 2-10+)
- adventure and survival stories (ages 5-12+)
- outdoor activity books (ages 1-12+)
- resources for parents, caregivers and educators
We hope you find a favorite (or many favorites) among them!
NATURALIST BOOKS (non-fiction nature books for kids)
The Backyard Bug Book for Kids | Lauren Davidson | ages 3-5 – With a story, rhymes, photographs, fun facts and activities, this book is a great introduction into the world of insects.
Actual Size | Steve Jenkins | ages 3-8 – This beautiful book helps put animals’ sizes into perspective, showing them (or parts of them) in their actual size. Going beyond simple descriptions and measurements, it shows kids images that they can compare to their own hands and their own eyes, or compare the size of one creature to another.
The Bee Book – Charlotte Milner | ages 3-8 – This book teaches kids all about bees, their importance, and what we can do to help reverse their decline. Through the beautiful graphics and text, readers will learn about bees, beekeeping, pollination, making honey, and so much more. If you enjoy this one, don’t miss Milner’s The Bat Book and The Sea Book, both of which also focus on conservation.
The Magic and Mystery of Trees | Jen Green | ages 3-9 — This book helps kids learn all about trees: their different types, where they are found, their role in the natural world, how they communicate, how they grow, the role they play in our lives and the role we play in theirs… and so much more.
A Nest is Noisy | Dianna Hutts Aston | ages 4-8 – From the tiny nest of a bee hummingbird to the much larger nests of orangutans in the rainforest canopy, this book teaches kids about a variety of nests. Through the beautiful illustrations, they see how nests differ in shapes, sizes, materials and locations, and all about their variety of occupants. If you enjoy this book, check out the rest in the series: An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, A Butterfly Is Patient, A Rock Is Lively, and A Beetle Is Shy, all of which also feature the beautiful artwork of illustrator Sylvia Long.
Big Book of the Blue | Yuval Zommer | ages 2-5 – A beautiful book for the budding oceanographer, this book explores the underwater world. It is chock-full of interesting facts and beautiful illustrations.
The Big Book of Bugs | Yuval Zommer | ages 3-5 – Of particular interest to budding entomologists, this beautiful book explores the world of “creepy-crawlies” and brings into focus many interesting facts about them.
The Big Book of Beasts | Yuval Zommer | ages 2-7 – This book teaches kids about some of the most fascinating animals from around the world in a beautiful series of illustrations and interesting facts.
The Big Book of Blooms | Yuval Zommer | ages 3-7 – Learn all about some of the incredible flowering plants from around the world, as well as information about botany, habitats and conservation.
The Big Book of Birds | Yuval Zommer | ages 4-7 – A beautiful book for budding ornithologists, this book highlights incredible birds from around the world and teaches us many interesting facts about them.
How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids | Carol Pasternak | ages 5+ – With its detailed instructions and informative images, this guide will inspire kids to raise their own monarch butterflies. It also helps kids understand the threats that monarchs face today, and gives readers ideas for participating in their conservation (by starting a butterfly garden, for example).
Stink Fights, Earwax, and Other Marvelous Mammal Adaptations | Laura Perdew | ages 5-8 – Kids seem to really enjoy the subject of animal adaptations, and who can blame them with tales of weird-but-true behavior (and their explanations) across the animal world. This books is part of a series of five books exploring the concept of adaptation, each one introduced by a poem (limerick, haiku, etc.). Other titles include Water-Walking, Sidewinding, and Other Remarkable Reptile Adaptations; Antifreeze, Leaf Costumes, and Other Fabulous Fish Adaptations; Spit Nests, Puke Power, and Other Brilliant Bird Adaptations; and Sunscreen, Frogsicles, and Other Amazing Amphibian Adaptations.
The Wonders of Nature | Ben Hoare | ages 5-9 – Learn all about myths, legends, minerals, microscopic life, plants and animals. This book explores 100 “commonplace-but-incredible” items from the natural world (e.g., pumice, kelp, nautilus, mangrove, papyrus, woodpecker, echidna, pyrite, tapir). Through the book’s photographs and illustrations, up-close images and storybook descriptions, children will be enchanted by the natural world.
Woodland Book | Emily Bone | ages 6+ – Full of beautiful illustrations, this book introduces children to the magic of the woodland, its wildlife, plants and history. It also teaches them ways to interact with the woodland: to build shelters, to identify trees, to track animals, and much more.
Can You Hear The Trees Talking?: Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest | Peter Wohlleben | ages 8-10 – This book introduces kids to the science of the forest (e.g., how trees talk to each other). It also includes outdoor activities, quizzes and photographs to create an educational and immersive experience.
ADVENTURE BOOKS (non-fiction nature books for kids)
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto | Natalie Standiford | ages 5-7 – This book tells the thrilling story of Balto, the lead log of a sled team charged with the last leg of a crucial mission: transporting medicine to sick children, through one of the worst storms ever. He needs to lead his team over 50 miles in the Alaskan wilderness, facing peril and challenges along the way, but ultimately saving the day.
How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark | Rosalyn Schanzer | ages 5-10 – Pulling passages from their actual journals, this book tells the story of Lewis and Clark’s adventures as they headed for the Pacific. It includes letters, timelines, maps, and detailed illustrations, and introduces readers to different characters involved in the expedition (including a Newfoundland dog named Seaman) and their adventures along the way (including being chased by a grizzly bear).
Great Adventurers: The Incredible Expeditions of 20 Explorers | Alastair Humphreys | ages 7+ – This book tells the stories of 20 different explorers — men and women, known and unknown. Follow them along on their exciting adventures, learn about the gear they used, and be inspired for your own adventures.
Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir | Julie Bertagna | ages 8-12 – This graphic novel tells the story of John Muir, champion of the wilderness. From his adventurous childhood in Scotland to planting the roots of conservation in America, Muir’s love of nature shines through.
This Side of Wild | Gary Paulsen | ages 10+ – In this delightful collection of anecdotes, Gary Paulsen tells stories illustrating his beautiful relationship with the animals in his life. Reading of his adventures and relationship with animals, readers (especially those who love Hatchet) will be enchanted by Paulsen’s life. Middle grade kids may also enjoy his memoir Gone to the Woods, another collection of stories-behind-the-stories.
ACTIVITY BOOKS (non-fiction nature books for kids)
It’s often helpful to have outdoor activity ideas at your fingertips when you need a dose of inspiration for outside time. These books provide a plethora of nature activities for a range of ages and locations, from a country lane to a forest trail to a city street to your own backyard.
The Nature for Toddlers Activity Book: 50 Early Learning Activities to Explore the Natural World | Jenette Restivo | ages 1-3 – This book includes many simple hands-on nature activities for little ones, including rainy day puddle stomping, rock stacking, and creating a bird feeding station.
The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up | Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer | ages 2-9 – Described as a “a year-round how-to activity guidebook for getting kids outdoors and exploring nature”, this book is chock full of ideas for kids of all ages, during any time of year.
Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail | Editors of Storey Publishing | ages 3-6 – Designed as a take-along field guide, this book will be a great companion on your next nature walk, engaging kids in hands-on learning about nature.
The Nature Adventure Book | Katie Taylor | ages 5-7 – This book includes a variety of crafts and games, divided into four sections (adventure skills, nature detective, wild art, and sensory games) and accompanied with helpful instructions and photography.
Camping Activity Book for Kids: 36 Fun Project for Your Next Outdoor Adventure | Amelia Mayer | ages 5-9 – This book is full of activity ideas for your next camping trip (even if it’s just in your own backyard). Children can work on their wilderness skills while taking on different survival challenges, and learn a lot about their surroundings when trying different outdoor activities.
The Animal Adventurer’s Guide: How to Prowl for an Owl, Make Snail Slime, and Catch a Frog Bare-Handed – 50 Activities to Get Wild with Animals | Susie Spikol | ages 5-9 – Filled with different hands-on activities, this book aims to teach kids about the wild animals around them. They can practice tracking, identifying, and finding different animals, and even participate in some citizen science.
Exploring Nature: Activity Book for Kids — 50 Creative Projects to Spark Curiosity in the Outdoors | Kim Andrews | ages 5-9 – The hands-on nature activities and crafts in this book are designed to inspire curiosity and imagination, helping kids connect with nature around them. They also encourage kids to build skills such as observation, wildlife safety, drawing and writing.
Forest School Adventure: Outdoor Skills and Play for Children | Naomi Walmsley & Dan Westall | ages 5-10 – With activities to suit a range of ages, this book combines play and skill-building to engage children outdoors, using “the woods and forests as a means to build independence and self-esteem in children”. The book is divided into four sections: bushcraft, wild food, nature awareness and games.
Hiking Activity Book for Kids: 35 Fun Projects for Your Next Outdoor Adventure | Amelia Mayer | ages 6-9 – The collection of games, projects and activities in this book are sure to keep your kids fully engaged on their next outdoor adventure.
The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families and Classrooms | Clare Walker Leslie | ages 6-10 – Exploring with your five senses is a great way to connect with nature, and this book guides kids through different activities that help them to just that. From sketching wildlife to collecting leaves to watching birds, these activities will help encourage a lifelong love of nature.
Turn This Book into a Beehive! and 19 other Experiments and Activities that Explain the Amazing World of Bees | Lynn Brunelle | ages 8-12 – This book is a great way for kids to learn all about the fascinating world of bees. Along with beautiful illustrations, it incorporates exercises and activities to give kids a greater understanding of bees and their importance. It also helps kids become part of the solution in the effort to protect bees and their habitats. Kids can actually turn the pages of the book into nesting tubes for native bees — incredible! Many books focus mostly on the honeybee, so it’s refreshing to see a book that highlights the importance of native bees as well.
The Young Adventurer’s Guide to (Almost) Anything: 45 Action-Packed Outdoor Activities | Ben Hewitt | ages 8-12 – This collection of step-by-step, illustrated activities will help kids learn a wide range of skills and gain confidence outdoors. From sleeping in the woods to eating bugs, escaping a bear to building a fort, there is a skill or everyone!
The Outdoor Scientist: The Wonder of Observing the Natural World | Temple Grandin | ages 8-12 – This book encourages kids to observe and inquire about the natural world around them, exploring and practicing independent thinking. Written by world-renowned scientist and autism spokesperson Temple Grandin, it introduces kids to a wide scope of the scientific world, all while maintaining a personal element and a dose of fun. Activities include skipping stones, building sandcastles, investigating migratory routes, engaging the nature-loving child and inspiring inquiry and curiosity.
The Kids’ Guide to Exploring Nature | Brooklyn Botanic Garden | ages 8-12 – This book encourages close observation of environments, teaching kids about the ecosystems of plants and animals in different locations. Children learn to identify plants and animals, keep a journal, conduct field experiments and engage all their senses.
A Girl’s Guide to the Wild: Be an Adventure-Seeking Outdoor Explorer | Ruby McConnell | ages 9-12 – In addition to inspiring stories about different outdoorswomen (historical and contemporary), this book contains a collection of activities, experiments, crafts and information that can help girls (and anyone) thrive outdoors. It aims to help build their confidence and independence outdoors through skills like first aid basics, map-reading, preparedness, and “body stuff in the wilderness”.
resources for parents, caregivers and educators: encouraging kids outdoors
How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature | Scott D. Sampson
15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get out of the House and Connect with Your Kids | Rebecca P. Cohen
The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids | Todd Christopher
Naturally Inclusive: Engaging Children of All Abilities | Ruth Wilson
Let Them Be Eaten By Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking our Kids into the Great Outdoors | Peter Brown Hoffmeister
When you’re looking for non-fiction books for kids who love nature and the outdoors, keep this list handy! Books have incredible power to inspire and inform, to entertain and encourage, and nature books are no exception.
For more ideas on gifts that can help encourage your kids outdoors to connect with nature, don’t miss these lists: