The Ultimate List of Diverse & Inclusive Books to Support Nature-Based Learning

 
The Ultimate List of Diverse & Inclusive Books to Support Nature-Based Learning | Wonderkin
When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.
— Rudine Sims Bishop

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 emma@wonderkin.com and I’ll be happy to add it to the list!

Happy Adventuring!

 
 

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner

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.

 

Hiking Day by Anne Rockwell

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.

 

Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug by Evan Kuhlman

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.

 

Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee

This cheerful, lyrical book reminds us of all the benefits of rain, and encourages a love of all-weather outdoor play and exploration.

Check out our “Rainy Day Outdoor Play” Pinterest board for tips & tricks for making the most of wet weather!

 

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul

Combining science and poetry, this informative book offers a unique introduction to the different phases of the water cycle.

 

If Polar Bears Disappeared by Lily Williams

Like its companion, If Sharks Disappeared, this book is jam-packed with information about climate change, apex predators, and ecosystems, all presented in an easy-to-understand format.

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.”

 

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

Two young children join their fathers for some outdoor exploration, learning about the interconnected web of life around a stream.

 

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

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.

 

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

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.

 

Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollak

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.

 

Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip by Denia Lewis Hester

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.

 

Plants Feed Me by Lizzy Rockwell

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!

 

City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

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.

 

Sonya’s Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

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.

 

Wild Berries by Julie Flett

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.

 

Summer Days and Nights by Herbert Wong Yee

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.

 

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

Like it’s companion title, Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter, this beautifully illustrated book highlights the subtle changes that mark the shifting seasons.

 

Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee

This simple, charming story for younger readers follows a little girl on her search to find who's making tracks in the snow. 

 

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

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. 

 

The Sun and the Moon by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano

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!

 

How Many Stars in the Sky? by Lenny Hort

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.

 

Call Me Tree / Llamame Arbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez

This unique bilingual book encourages children to grow solid roots, dream big, and strengthen their connection to themselves and to the natural world.

 

Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter

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.