The 36 Very Best Picture Books About Nature

Updated Apr. 8, 2019

Nature is filled with beauty, peace, curiosity, and wonder. There's beauty in every sunset, peace in the sound of rain or the waves on the beach, the curiosity of the bugs and animals, and how everything works and comes to be, and the wonder of the natural phenomenons you can find in nature wherever you seem to look.

These books hold adventures, beauty, and knowledge of nature for little ones to learn, explore, and enjoy.

The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth book
#1
The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth
Written and illustrated by Chris Burkard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Lemony Snickers

This is an all-time favorite children's book for me. The artwork is stunning and the entire book is a fantastic celebration of our beautiful Earth. This is the first children's book by award-winning photographer Chris Burkard, and if you've seen his photography (@chrisburkard), it's no surprise that the message of this book is to take time to explore and enjoy beautiful moments. Children might not appreciate that important reminder as much as adults, but they'll love the pretty illustrations and the peaceful, calm of this book. The words are simple and direct, but that's part of what makes it powerful.

When a young boy in search of joy asks the Earth where he can find happiness, the Earth responds and agrees to show him the way. The boy rushes excitedly through the landscapes that make the Earth most proud--the ocean, the cliffs, the forest, the desert, the mountains, and the top of the world. But the boy soon realizes happiness is much harder to find than he expected.

You Belong Here book
#2
You Belong Here
Written and illustrated by M. H. Clark
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"The stars belong in the deep night sky, and the moon belongs there too, and the winds belong in each place they blow by, and I belong here with you. So begins this classic bedtime book, richly illustrated by award-winning artist Isabelle Arsenault. The pages journey around the world, observing plants and animals everywhere, and reminding children that they are right where they belong. A beautiful title for new babies, adoptive families, and children of all ages. ----------- You are a dream that the world once dreamt, And now you are part of its song. That's why you are here, in the place where you're meant, For this is right where you belong."

Up in the garden down in the dirt book
#3
Up in the garden down in the dirt
Written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I love this beautiful, unique look at a garden, as it shows what's happening above and below the ground and pairs it with sweet sentiments of gardening with family and creating something beautiful together. This book shows the efforts of diligent work, and it also shows the beauty in nature around us, both in plants and animals.

In this exuberant and lyrical follow-up to the award-winning Over and Under the Snow, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt. Explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year! Up in the garden, the world is full of green—leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world—earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow—populated by all the animals that make a garden their home.

Green book
#4
Green
Written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Illustrations and simple, rhyming text explore the many shades of the color green.

Miss Rumphius book
#5
Miss Rumphius
Written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A beloved classic is lovelier than ever! Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of two-time Caldecott winner Barbara Cooney’s best-loved book, Viking has reoriginated the illustrations, going back to the original art to ensure state-of-the-art reproduction of Cooney’s exquisite artwork. The art for Miss Rumphius has a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

The Curious Garden book
#6
The Curious Garden
Written and illustrated by Peter Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

One boy's quest for a greener world... one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

Sometimes Rain book
#7
Sometimes Rain
Written by Meg Fleming and illustrated by Diana Sudyka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Celebrate the four seasons of the year and all of the fun that comes with them with this lyrical, rhyming picture book from the author of I Heart You. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows, sometimes the sun shines, and sometimes the trees change color. But no matter what the seasons bring, there is lots of fun to be had! This lyrical exploration of the four seasons and all of the wonder that they bring is illustrated with vibrant watercolors.

The Little Gardener book
#8
The Little Gardener
Written and illustrated by Emily Hughes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I loved the fun take on having a "little" gardener who tries to make the garden look beautiful by working as hard as he can, but in the end, he needs a little help from someone bigger. His efforts inspire those around him to work harder and he gets the help he needs! This book is darling.

There was once a little gardener and his garden meant everything to him. He worked hard, very hard, but he was just too little (or at least he felt he was). In this beautifully gentle tale, Emily Hughes, the celebrated author of Wild, once again transports us to a world not unlike our own, but still brimming with fantasy and wonder.

Planting a Rainbow book
#9
Planting a Rainbow
Written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-2

This educational and enjoyable book helps children understand how to plant bulbs, seeds, and seedlings, and nurture their growth. Lois Ehlert's bold collage illustrations include six pages of staggered width, presenting all the flowers of each color of the rainbow.

The Snail And the Whale book
#10
The Snail And the Whale
Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When a tiny snail meets a humpback whale, the two travel together to far-off lands. It’s a dream come true for the snail, who has never left home before. But when the whale swims too close to shore, will the snail be able to save her new friend?

Owl Moon book
#11
Owl Moon
Written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Celebrating 30 years of the beloved classic Owl Moon from renowned children’s book author Jane Yolen and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator John Schoenherr! Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird. But there is no answer. Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don’t need words. You don’t need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn’t an owl, but sometimes there is.

The Tiny Seed book
#12
The Tiny Seed
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

With his inimitable bright collage art and simple text, Carle follows the journey of a seed, from being blown by the wind to taking root and sprouting seeds of its own. Full color.

Claudia & Moth book
#13
Claudia & Moth
Written and illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

A small girl with a passion for nature turns to her new passion for art as the seasons turn colder. Claudia loves butterflies. Blue ones. Yellow ones. Purple ones with dots. And since she can’t take them home, she paints them in all their beautiful colors. But when winter comes, there are no more butterflies to paint…until she finds a little moth. Suddenly, Claudia sees winter in a whole new light.

Augustus and His Smile book
#14
Augustus and His Smile
Written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Augustus the tiger was sad. He had lost his smile. So he did a HUGE tigery stretch, and set off to find it. Stunning illustrations celebrate the beauty of the world and the simple happiness it brings to us. An imaginative book for children who love to explore the world around them.

The Stick book
#15
The Stick
Written and illustrated by Clay Rice
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

When a young boy finds a stick on the ground and reads the inspiring words carved into it, his life begins to change until he fulfills lifelong dreams and discovers the truth about giving.

The Honeybee book
#16
The Honeybee
Written by Kirsten Hall and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Buzz from flower to flower with a sweet honeybee in this timely, clever, and breathtakingly gorgeous picture book from critically acclaimed author Kirsten Hall and award-winning illustrator Isabelle Arsenault. Bzzz… What’s that? Do you hear it? You’re near it. It’s closer, it’s coming, it’s buzzing, it’s humming… A BEE! With zooming, vibrant verse by Kirsten Hall and buzzy, beautiful illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault, this celebration of the critically important honeybee is a honey-sweet treasure of a picture book.

Miss Maple's Seeds book
#17
Miss Maple's Seeds
Written and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Fans of Miss Rumphius will adore this gorgeous picture book which introduces the kind, nature-loving Miss Maple, who celebrates the miracle in each seed. Miss Maple gathers lost seeds that haven’t yet found a place to sprout. She takes them on field trips to explore places to grow. In her cozy maple tree house, she nurtures them; keeping them safe and warm until it’s time for them to find roots of their own, and grow into the magnificent plants they’re destined to become. Eliza Wheeler’s luminous paintings feature gorgeous landscapes, lush foliage and charming details. Her tender story celebrates the potential found in each seed—since even the grandest tree and most brilliant flower had to grow from the smallest of seeds. Celebrate every season with Miss Maple, from Earth Day to graduations to harvest festivals.

Get Dressed, Sasquatch! book
#18
Get Dressed, Sasquatch!
Written by Kyle Sullivan and illustrated by Derek Sullivan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-7

The fun is au naturel when a rule-touting ranger dares to ask Sasquatch to put some clothes on.In the Pacific Northwest, the trees are always green, the eagles are always stern and Sasquatch is always, well, naked. But what happens when a rule-touting ranger shows up to ask Sasquatch to put some clothes on? Find out in this story of mountainous fun and evergreen hilarity.

Maple book
#19
Maple
Written and illustrated by Lori Nichols
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Lori Nichols’ enchanting debut features an irresistible, free-spirited, nature-loving little girl who greets the changing seasons and a new sibling with arms wide open. When Maple is tiny, her parents plant a maple tree in her honor. She and her tree grow up together, and even though a tree doesn’t always make an ideal playmate, it doesn’t mind when Maple is in the mood to be loud—which is often. Then Maple becomes a big sister, and finds that babies have their loud days, too. Fortunately, Maple and her beloved tree know just what the baby needs.

Tidy book
#20
Tidy
Written by Emily Gravett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Pete the badger learns that being tidy isn’t always the best thing in this save-the-environment picture book from award-winning author and illustrator Emily Gravett. Pete the badger likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but what starts as the collecting of one fallen leaf escalates quickly and ends with the complete destruction of the forest. Will Pete realize the error of his ways and reverse his tidying habit?

Wangari's Trees of Peace book
#21
Wangari's Trees of Peace
Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A paperback picture book based on the true story of Wangari Maathai, an environmental and political activist in Kenya and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something--and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans . . . This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman's passion, vision, and determination inspired great change. Includes an author's note.

How Do I Love Thee? book
#22
How Do I Love Thee?
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A gorgeous reinvention of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous "Sonnet 43" from the bestselling author of the BabyLit board books and the acclaimed illustrator of Over and Under the Snow. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Whether in soft sunlight or rain-drizzled night or winter's frost-etched breath, three children share the love and joy of friendship while exploring the wonders of nature. Bestselling author Jennifer Adams has reimagined Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved "Sonnet 43," best known by its opening lines, creating a lyrical, evocative ode to the love of family and friends. Christopher Silas Neal brings the poetry to life with his beautiful, imaginative, and whimsical illustrations.

Honey book
#23
Honey
Written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

This sweet companion to David Ezra Stein's award-winning Leaves celebrates the joy of savoring something you love. Bear is ravenous when he wakes up from his winter sleep and has one thing on his mind: honey! Alas, it is too soon for honey, so Bear tries hard to be patient. The world around him is waking up, too, and he soon remembers all the other things he loves, like warm grass, berries, and rain. He's almost content, until, one day, he hears a welcome buzzing sound . . . and finally it is time for Bear to delight in the thing he relishes above all others--and it is as warm, golden, sweet, and good as he remembered.

Up in the Leaves book
#24
Up in the Leaves
Written by Shira Boss and illustrated by Jamey Christoph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Bob does not like the noisy, crowded streets and school hallways of his New York City home, so he decides to build a tree house in the cool, green calm of Central Park. Includes a note about the real Bob Redman.

Alaska ABC book
#25
Alaska ABC
Written and illustrated by Shannon Cartwright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

This playful and humorous alphabet book inspires learning the ABCs and introduces young children to Alaskan flora, fauna, and culture. Meet a moose in mukluks, a reindeer in the rain, and salmon snowshoeing!

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!