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Deserts: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about deserts?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to deserts. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about deserts.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about deserts, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Jackalope to popular sellers like Lucky Breaks to some of our favorite hidden gems like Cactus Hotel.

We hope this list of kids books about deserts can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit
Written by Susan Lowell & illustrated by Jim Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

The Tortoise and the Hare with a southwestern flair. Tortoise, living comfortably in her home on Slow Lane, awakens one morning feeling good and challenges cocky Jackrabbit to a race. Patiently bumping her way through the desert landscape, Tortoise heads for the finish line as Jackrabbit cheerfully skips―and sleeps. Roadrunner, Tarantula, Gila Monster and even a Javelina or three cheer them on. Irresistible fun for the young and old alike.

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Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?
Written by Tish Rabe & illustrated by Joe Mathieu and Aristides Ruiz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Learn about deserts, what they are, and what animals live in them with the Cat in the Hat.

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Desert Night Desert Day
Written by Anthony D. Fredericks & illustrated by Kenneth J. Spengler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Rhyming text describes how desert animals live around the clock.

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Cactus Hotel
Written by Brenda Z Guiberson & illustrated by Megan Lloyd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Describes the life cycle of the giant saguaro cactus, with an emphasis on its role as a home for other desert dwellers.

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The Night Flower: The Blooming of the Saguaro Cactus
Written & illustrated by Lara Hawthorne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

An exquisitely illustrated nonfiction picture book about a desert flower that blooms for just one night a year As the summer sun sets over the Sonoran desert in Arizona, wildlife gathers to witness a very special annual event. The night flower is about to bloom. For a few short hours, the desert is transformed into a riot of color and sound as mammals and insects congregate for this miracle of nature. Explore the fascinating desert ecosystem, from pollinating fruit bats to howling mice and reptilian monsters, in this beautiful nonfiction picture book.

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  • Way Out in the Desert - This toe-tapping text will have you singing along with the lovable creatures of the desert in no time! Filled with vibrant illustrations of many of the charming plants and animals that call the Sonoran Desert home, Way Out in the Desert is a wonderful teaching tool that takes you on a trip down memory lane. If you remember singing Over in the Meadow as a child, now you can give your children their own memories of this timeless tune. So take a child on a trip where Way out in the desert having fun in the sun lived a mother horned toad and her little toady one…

  • C Is for Coyote - This is a fresh and exciting approach to learning the alphabet using the fascinating animals and spectacular places of the American Southwest. A delightful mix of fun and informative facts is combined with stunning photography. “Now I know My ABCs” will never be the same again!

  • The Seed and the Giant Saguro - It all begins with the tiniest of seeds. Here you will discover how a pack rat, a rattlesnake, a roadrunner, a coyote, and even the clouds above all play a role in helping a small seed grow into a giant saguaro. This wonderful read-aloud brings the wild desert to life and will spark a child’s interest in the fascinating creatures that live there. As an added bonus, a timeline, glossary, and fun facts about this gentle giant and the amazing desert are included in the back.

  • Cactus and Flower: A Book About Life Cycles - This bright, gentle, thoughtful picture book explores friendship and natural life cycles for readers young and old Cactus and Flower spend their days in the desert, side by side. They watch the sun come up; they watch the sun go down. They play with their animal friends. And they grow, slowly but surely. Then one day, Flower loses a petal. Cactus and Flower know what this means. But they know, too, that this is the way life goes: Slowly but surely, petals will fall, and new buds will bloom.

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Jackalope
Written by Janet Stevens & illustrated by Susan Stevens Crummel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A jackrabbit who wishes to be feared asks his fairy godrabbit for horns and becomes the first jackalope, but there’s one condition: he must not tell lies. 75,000 first printing.

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Lucky Breaks
Written by Susan Patron & illustrated by Matt Phelan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Things are fairly normal in Hard Pan, population forty-three. But to Lucky, fairly normal means fairly boring, and she’s restless. Just in the nick of time, she meets a potential new best friend named Paloma, who happens to be visiting Hard Pan with her uncle, a geologist. And before she knows it, Lucky gets stuck in a well, meets up with a wild burro, discards something she didn’t know was precious, does something unexpectedly cruel, and learns a couple of the secrets of the universe.

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The Sunhat
Written by Jennifer Ward & illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Adapted from the well-loved classic tale, The Mitten, this enchanting book introduces us to a new cast of character and a delightful little girl with a big red hat. With soft, sweet illustrations and rhythmic, playful text, this story is bound to be a timeless favorite!

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Hosni the Dreamer: An Arabian Tale
Written by Ehud Ben-Ezer & illustrated by Uri Shulevitz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A Caldecott Medalist and an award-winning Israeli writer pool their talents in the story of an Arab shepherd who spends his single piece of gold on wisdom, an unpopular purchase that proves a lifesaver.

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