Nature Book Club: Family Reading List

  1. Choose a theme that interests the whole family. (Themes are listed in alphabetical order.)
  2. Choose age-appropriate books within the theme for each family member. (Use the key below to determine genre. Purchase books from your local independent bookstore or support your local library, if possible!)
  3. Read, read, read!
  4. Use the discussion questions and activity ideas provided to share what you’ve learned with each other.
  5. Get outside and learn about nature from the source!

 

AN = Adult nonfiction

AF = Adult fiction

YA = Young adult (Ages 12+)

GN = Graphic novel

MG = Middle grade (Ages 8+)

PB = Picture book

JN = Juvenile nonfiction

PO = Poetry

 

Animals

AN

  • Being With Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World by Barbara J. King
  • Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives- and Save Theirs by Richard Louv
  • How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green

MG

  • The Lost Rainforest series by Elliot Schrefer

JN

  • Howl Like A Wolf: Learn to Think, Move, and Act Like 15 Amazing Animals by Kathleen Yale and Kaley McKean
  • Cute as an Axolotl: Discovering the World’s Most Adorable Animals by Jess Keating, illustrated by David DeGrand
  • The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris

PB

  • A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel

 

Animal Migration

AN

  • No Way Home: The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations by David Wilcove
  • A Season on the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration by Kenn Kaufman

MG

  • Wild Wings by Gill Lewis

JN

  • Home at Last: A Song of Migration by April Pulley Sayre and Alix Berenzy
  • North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson and Patrick Benson
  • Numenia and the Hurricane: Inspired by a True Migration Story by Fiona Halliday

 

Appalachia

AN

  • Far Appalachia: Following the New River North by Noah Adams
  • The Barefoot Sisters Southbound by Susan and Lucy Letcher
  • A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
  • Bringing Down the Mountains: The Impact of Mountaintop Removal in Southern West Virginia Communities by Shirley Stewart Burns

AF

  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • October Sky by Homer Hickam

PO

  • Affrilachia: Poems by Frank X. Walker by Frank X. Walker
  • Elderberry Flood: The History, Lore, and Land of West Virginia by Louise McNeill

PB

  • When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant and Dianne Goode
  • Appalachian ABCs by Francie Hall

 

Bears

AN

  • Search for the Golden Moon Bear: Science and Adventure in Pursuit of a New Species by Sy Montgomery
  • Summers with the Bears: Six Seasons in the North Woods by Jack Becklund
  • The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild by Lynn Schooler

YA

  • Dreaming the Bear by Mimi Thebo

MG

  • Moon Bear by Gill Lewis

JN

  • The Truth About Bears: Seriously Funny Facts About Your Favorite Animals by Maxwell Eaton III

PB

  • Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears by Jill Robinson and Marc Beckoff, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
  • Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear by Kazue Takahashi
  • Moon Bear by Brenda Guiberson, illustrated by Ed Young
  • Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland
  • Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Matt Phelan
  • The Deliverance of Dancing Bears by Elizabeth Stanley
  • Snow Bear by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Wendell Minor
  • Baby Bear’s Adoption by Jennifer Keats Curtis and Veronica Jones

 

Beavers

AN

  • Eager: The Surprising, Secret life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb
  • Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver by Frances Backhouse
  • The Beaver Manifesto by Glynnis Hood

MG

  • Jack: The Story of a Beaver by Shirley Woods, illustrated by Celia Godkin

JN

  • Beavers (Superpower Field Guide) by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Frith

PB

  • The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale by Susan Wood, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
  • Beavers Build Lodges by Elizabeth Raum, illustrated by Romina Marti
  • Five Busy Beavers by Stella Partheniou Grasso, illustrated by Christine Battuz
  • Little Beaver and the Echo by Amy MacDonald and Sarah Fox-Davies

 

Big Cats

AN

  • Bones of the Tiger: Protecting the Man-Eaters of Nepal by Hemanta Mishra
  • The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans by Sy Montgomery
  • Chasing the Dragon’s Tail: The Struggle to Save Thailand’s Wild Cats by Alan Rabinowitz
  • The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature by David Baron
  • The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
  • Snow Leopard: Stories from the Roof of the World edited by Don Hunter
  • Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther by Craig Pittman

MG

  • Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins

JN

  • Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

PB

  • Little Tigers by Jo Weaver
  • Tigress by Helen Cowcher
  • A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Catia Chien
  • Snow School by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Alan Marks

 

Birds

AN

  • That Quail, Robert by Margaret A. Stanger
  • Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird by Katie Fallon
  • One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individuals Lives by Bernd Heinrich
  • The Birds of Pandemonium: Life Among the Exotic and the Endangered by Michele Raffin
  • Flyaway: How A Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings by Suzie Gilbert
  • Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
  • Birds of a Feather: Tales of a Wild Bird Haven by Linda Johns
  • Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien

JN

  • Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

MG

  • Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Perez
  • Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

PB

  • Birds by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
  • Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins
  • The Birdwatchers by Simon James
  • Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
  • Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

 

Black in Nature

AN

  • Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney
  • The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham.

PO

  • Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry edited by Camille T. Dungy
  • Haiku: The Last Poetry of Richard Wright by Richard Wright

PB

  • Hiking Day by Anne F. Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell
  • A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker
  • Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan and Floyd Cooper

 

Butterflies, Bugs, Spiders, and Stuff

AN

  • Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects by Anne Sverdup-Thygeson

AF

  • Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

JN

  • The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

PB

  • Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert
  • Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
  • An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth by Karlin Gra, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva
  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss

 

Dogs

AN

  • Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan
  • Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote
  • A Small, Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life by Steven Kotler

PO

  • Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
  • God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Marla Frazee

MG

  • Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

PB

  • Samsara Dog by Helen Manos, illustrated by Julie Vivas

 

Elephants & Rhinos

AF

  • The White Bone by Barbara Dowdy

AN

  • Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Jenkins Sheldrick
  • The Soul of the Rhino: A Nepali Adventure with Kings and Elephant Drivers, Billionaires and Bureaucrats, Shamans and Scientists and the Indian Rhinoceros by Hemanta Mishra

MG

  • What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein
  • Tua and the Elephant by R. P. Harris, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
  • The Truth About Elephants: Seriously Funny Facts About Your Favorite Animals by Maxwell Eaton III

JN

  • The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson, illustrated by Timothy Rodwell

PB

  • Monkey and Elephant by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illustrated by Galia Bernstein
  • How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild by Katherine Roy
  • Jubela by Cristina Kessler, illustrated by JoEllen McAllister Stammen

 

Evolution

AN

  • The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen
  • The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff
  • Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History by Stephen Jay Gould
  • The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf

JN

  • The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams illustrated by Amy Husband
  • Amazing Evolution: The Journey of Life by Anna Claybourne, illustrated by Wesley Robins

PB

  • Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet, illustrated by Karen Lewis
  • Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Lauren Stringer

 

Great Apes

AN

  • Walking with the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birute Galdikas by Sy Montgomery
  • Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo by Birute M. F. Galdikas
  • The Intimate Ape: Orangutans of the Secret Life of a Vanishing Species by Shawn Thompson

YA

  • Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Susan Meyer
  • Endangered by Elliot Schrefer
  • Orphaned by Elliot Schrefer

MG

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao

GN

  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birtute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

JN

  • Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued Once of Their Own by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu

PB

  • The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter
  • Furious George Goes Bananas: A Primate Parody by Michael Rex

 

Himalaya

AN

  • Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa
  • Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas by Radhika Govindrajan
  • Tibet Wild: A Naturalist’s Journeys on the Roof of the World by George Schaller
  • Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

AF

  • The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy

JN

  • World Above the Clouds: A Story of a Himalayan Ecosystem by Ann Whitehead Nagda, illustrated by Paul Kratter
  • The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter

PB

  • Crane Boy by Diana Cohn, illustrated by Youme Landowne
  • Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Ed Young
  • Tenzin’s Deer: A Tibetan Tale by Barbara Soros, illustrated by Danuta Mayer
  • Dorje’s Stripes by Anshumani Ruddra, illustrated by Gwangjo and Jung-a Park
  • All the Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet by Barbara Helen Berger
  • The Mountains of Tibet by Mordiaci Gerstein

 

Monkeys & Prosimians

AN

  • A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons by Robert Sapolsky
  • Almost Human: A Journey into the World of Baboons by Shirley Strum
  • Faces in the Forest: The Endangered Muriqui Monkeys of Brazil by Karen B. Strier
  • Lords and Lemurs: Mad Scientists, Kings with Spears, and the Survival of Diversity in Madagascar by Alison Jolly

MG

  • Monkey Business: Stories from Around the World by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Erik Brooks
  • Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

JN

  • No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong
  • The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins by Sandra Markle

PB

  • The Monkey Bridge by Rafe Martin, illustrated by Fahimeh Amiri
  • Monkey Colors by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne
  • When the Monkeys Came Back by Kristine Franklin, illustrated by Robert Roth
  • Monkey: A Trickster Tale from India by Gerald McDermott
  • Mad About Monkeys by Owen Davey
  • Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard
  • Slow Loris by Alexis Deacon
  • Ny Aiay Ako by Alison Jolly and Hantanirina, illustrated by Deborah Ross

 

 

Nature Poetry

ADULTS

  • Haiku: The Last Poetry of Richard Wright by Richard Wright
  • Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry edited by Camille T. Dungy
  • Devotions by Mary Oliver
  • Classic Haiku: The Greatest Japanese Poetry from Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki, and Their Followers by Tom Lowenstein
  • Hill Daughter: New and Selected Poems by Louise McNeill
  • Wild Form and Savage Grammar: Poetry, Ecology, Asia by Andrew Schelling

KIDS

  • Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon J. Muth
  • National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! by Patrick Lewis
  • Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange
  • Orangutanka: A Story in Poems by Margartia Engle, illustrated by Renee Kurilla
  • The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston

 

Oceans

AN

  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

YA

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel

MG

  • White Dolphin by Gill Lewis
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

JN

  • Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy

PB

  • Heartbeat by Evan Turk
  • Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns
  • Sam the Sea Cow by Francine Jacobs, illustrated by Laura Kelly
  • Swimming with Seals by Maggie De Vries and Janice Kun

 

Plants

AN

  • Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy by Eric Hansen

AF

  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

YA

  • Walking is a Way of Knowing: In a Kadar Forest by Madhuri Ramesh and Manish Chandi, illustrated by Matthew Frame

MG

  • Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

PB

  • The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry
  • Aani and the Tree Huggers by Jeannine Atkins, illustrated by Venantius J. Pinto
  • Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
  • We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Bob Staake
  • Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  • Alison’s Zinnia by Anita Lobel
  • Fantastic Flowers by Susan Stockdale
  • The Legend of the Lady Slipper by Lisa Lunge-Larsen and Margi Preus, illustrated by Andrea Arroyo
  • Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure by Naomi C. Rose

 

Seasons

AN

  • True Nature: An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude by Barbara Bash
  • The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell

PO

  • Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year by Nosy Crow and Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

PB

  • A Bear’s Year by Kathy Duval, illustrated by Gerry Turley
  • Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux by Eve Bunting, illustrated by John Sandford

 

Snails

AN

  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

JN

  • Snails are Just My Speed by Kevin McCloskey

PB

  • Escargot by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Sydney Hanson
  • Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabo

 

Snakes & Other Reptiles

AN

  • Secrets of Snakes: The Science Beyond the Myths by David Steen
  • The Snake Charmer: A Life and Death in Pursuit of Knowledge by Jamie James

JN

  • Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem by Kate Messner
  • Snakes by Gail Gibbons

PB

  • Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez, illustrated by Felicita Sala
  • Komodo! by Peter Sis
  • Gator, Gator, Gator! by Daniel Bernstrom and Frann Preston-Gannon

 

Turtles

AN

  • Dreaming in Turtle: A Journey Through the Passion, Profit, and Peril of Our Most Coveted Prehistoric Creatures by Peter Laufer

MG

  • The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

JN

  • Interrupted Journey: Saving Endangered Sea Turtles by Kathryn Laskey, photographs by Christopher G. Knight
  • A Place for Turtles by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Higgins Bond

PB

  • Box Turtle at Long Pond by William T. George, illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George
  • Truman by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

 

Water

AN

  • The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water, and the World by Eila Carrico

YA

  • The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

JN

  • Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin

PB

  • A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry
  • Monsoon Afternoon by Kashmira Sheth, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi
  • Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond
  • A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley
  • Muskrat Will Be Swimming by Cheryl Savageau, illustrated by Robert Hynes
  • Water is Water by Miranda Paul and Jason Chin

 

Wolves & Coyotes

AN

  • Shadow Mountain: A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild by Renee Askins
  • The Daily Coyote: A Story of Love, Survival, and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming by Shreve Stockton
  • Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History by Dan Flores
  • The Way of the Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds by Gavin van Horn

MG

  • Run Wild by Gill Lewis
  • Street Shadows by Claire Gilchrist

PB

  • Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

 

Wildlife Conservation

AN

  • Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink by Jane Goodall
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
  • Rewildling Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence by Marc Bekoff
  • The Condor’s Shadow: The Loss and Recovery of Wildlife in America by David S. Wilcove
  • Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals They Are Committed to Saving by Julie Scardina

YA

  • Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

JN

  • Going Wild: Helping Nature Thrive in Cities by Michelle Mulder

PB

  • Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet by David McLimans
  • Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White
  • Red Alert! Endangered Animals Around the World by Catherine Barr, illustrated by Anne Wilson

 

Questions to Inspire Family Book Discussion:

  • Who is the author of the book? What do you think it was like for them to write it?
  • What did you like about the book?
  • What questions did the book not answer? How can you learn more?
  • What would you change about the book, if you could re-write it?
  • Did the book encourage you to think about something in a new way?
  • How does the book/theme relate to your own life? Have you ever observed any of the plants, animals, landscapes, or phenomena featured in the book?
  • How did the book make you feel?
  • Is there anything you would like to do differently after reading the book?
  • What is one new thing you learned from reading the book?
  • Did you like the book’s ending? Why or why not?

 

Family Book Club Activity Ideas:

  • Make book marks with your favorite quotes.
  • Read aloud your favorite parts from each book.
  • Use social media to contact the author, ask a question, and see if they respond. If you liked their book, be sure to tell them so!
  • Watch a movie related to the theme and compare it to the books you read.
  • Create a timeline or map that represents your book and its setting.
  • Recommend books to others in your life who you think may enjoy them.
  • Check author websites for additional activities.
  • Use the references or recommended reading list to choose your next book.

Here is a pdf version of the reading list.

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