The Ultimate List of Diverse & Inclusive Books to Support Nature-Based Learning
As Rudine Sims Bishop first noted back in 1990, books serve simultaneously as mirrors, windows, and sliding doors, reflecting the reader’s own experience and offering insight and access to the experiences of others.
Exposing children to books that include representations of a diverse array of characters and experiences fosters inclusivity, builds self-esteem, and promotes empathy. Yet all too often, parents, educators, and librarians struggle to find children’s books that properly represent the diversity of children in their care.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of high-quality books that both portray diverse characters and support nature-based learning.
Please note that this is a living document - if you have a favorite title that’s been left off, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to add it to the list!
This beautifully illustrated book brings to life the amazing secret world that exists under the surface of a pond. Additional information included at the back of the text tees up budding naturalists for additional learning.
Follow along as a little girl and her family go hiking for the first time. The simple text and colorful illustrations celebrate the excitement of adventuring in nature as a family.
Your bug-loving little ones will enjoy this sweet and silly story about the relationship between a little girl named Amelia and her friend Hank the pill bug.
Combining science and poetry, this informative book offers a unique introduction to the different phases of the water cycle.
A note about this title:
Current guidelines for excellence in early childhood environmental education underscore that, when faced with the loss of endangered species and environmental degradation, young children may respond with sadness, fear, and helplessness. Information about developmentally-appropriate ways of talking to children about climate change is available here.”
Two young children join their fathers for some outdoor exploration, learning about the interconnected web of life around a stream.
This simple story offers a sweet reminder that nature can be found even in urban areas. A young girl and her father head to the supermarket to pick up everything they need to assemble a colorful window box, then travel home by bus to present it to the girl’s mother as a birthday surprise.
While initially embarrassed by the contrast between the “ugly vegetables” in her family’s garden, and the colorful flowers growing in her neighbors’ yards, the main character comes to see the beauty in both when the neighborhood joins together to celebrate the harvest by sharing flowers and “ugly vegetable” soup.
A Chinese vegetable soup recipe is included at the back of the book.
A diverse group of friends works together to cultivate a community garden in San Francisco in this colorfully illustrated story that’s sure to inspire your little ones to want to try their hand at gardening.
In this charming, funny story, a close-knit family works together to try and harvest the giant turnip Grandma Lena worked so hard to grow in her garden. This book pairs well with a variety of gardening activities, and makes for an entertaining read aloud.
This simple but informative text offers an introduction to the many parts of a plant that are used for food, from roots to leaves to fruit to flowers, while labeled diagrams add bonus learning. Your little ones may be inspired to taste some new fruits and vegetables after reading this book!
This book offers an uplifting introduction to the power of community action. It follows protagonist Marcy on her journey to convert an abandoned city lot into a community garden with the help of her neighbors.
This beautifully illustrated story, featuring a multicultural family, explores the circle of life on a family farm. Sonya works hard to feed and care for her hens. When one is taken by a fox, her father helps her understand that the fox also has its own family to feed and care for.
A young boy and his grandmother spend the day picking blueberries, encountering lots of wildlife along the way in this charming story, written partially in a Cree dialect.
This book is a joyful celebration of all the little details that make summer such a special season, from hunting butterflies by day to spotting fireflies at night.
This simple, charming story for younger readers follows a little girl on her search to find who's making tracks in the snow.
This book is a classic for a reason - it perfectly captures childlike wonder and excitement at the first snow, and the bold, colorful illustrations keep even the youngest readers engaged.
Engaging illustrations and carefully researched text, plus a glossary and list of science experiments, make this book (featured in the Wonderkin Astronomy Box) the perfect start to your adventures in astronomy.
And don't miss out on our Q&A with author Carolyn DeCristofano!
Unable to sleep, a little boy begins counting stars. Soon, his father joins in and they head off on a nighttime adventure outdoors. This book may help spark your little one’s interest in astronomy and some scientific investigations of their own.
This unique bilingual book encourages children to grow solid roots, dream big, and strengthen their connection to themselves and to the natural world.
This book presents the inspirational true story of environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai in a format that’s accessible for young learners.
Enjoyed this post? You're in luck! I’ll be sharing monthly round-ups of high-quality picture books to support nature-based early childhood learning all year long. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to ensure you never miss out on new content.