Eleven New Birdy and Nature-Themed Books for Kids

These picture books are sure to delight and inspire young readers.

Storybooks transport and help us appreciate the world in new ways at any age. Beautifully illustrated and sensitively written, this collection is no exception. Several of these stories share big ideas in approachable ways, such as neighborhoods coming together to create welcoming habitat for birds, or people rallying to protect water resources. Others take readers on exciting adventures around the globe, from a dandelion seed’s journey across continents to a Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s nerve-wracking migration. All are sure to entertain and inform young readers while whisking them away on new adventures. 

Monty and Rose Nest at Montrose

By Tamima Itani/Illustrated by Anna-Maria Crum

(Tamima Itani, Monty and Rose, L.L.C, 2021; 32 pages; ages 2 to 8)

This imagined story about a pair of Windy City nesting birds takes readers on the couple's journey to parenthood. Author Tamima Itani was inspired by two real-life Piping Plovers who became famous in 2019 when they nested in Chicago’s Montrose Harbor along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. It was the first time a pair of the near-threatened species successfully nested in the city in seven decades. The event inspired a documentary, numerous articles, a loyal following—and, now, a children’s book. Itani names the birds in her story Monty and Rose after their breeding grounds, and depicts both struggles and successes in a sweet tale that will captivate a younger generation of birders.

Buy it at Plovermother.


Lali’s Feather

By Farhana Zia/Illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

(Peachtree, 2020; 32 pages; ages 3 to 6)

A found object can be a miraculous thing. In this picture book—illustrated with eye-catching pinks, yellows, and greens—a lost feather sends Lali, a little girl from a village in India, on a journey to find the bird it belongs to. Is the feather Rooster’s? Peacock’s? Crow’s? Lali asks three birds about their feathers and then shows three more what hers can do. Peacock’s feathers make him fancy, Crow’s feathers make him speedy. Meanwhile, Lali shows the wild and domestic birds that she encounters how she can write in the sand, sweep the floor, and fan a fire. The mystery of the feather keeps Lali’s attention until it blows away. But don’t worry: She soon finds another interesting object on the ground and is off on another quest. 

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


Little Dandelion Seeds the World

By Julia Richardson/Illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

(Sleeping Bear Press, 2021; 40 pages; ages 3 to 6)

How far can a flower’s seeds travel? Everywhere, according to this delightful storybook about dandelions. A seed blown by a little girl travels to Africa, drifting from one continent to another in this tale of breezes, birds, and mammals that help transport seeds. The dandelion flutters, tumbles, and sails to the ground before “taking root” and “sending up a shoot,” phrases repeated throughout the story.  The iconic animals in each new location, and the story's rhythmic language, will make readers eager to turn the page. Plus, the story is based upon a true premise: The abundant dandelion flower has found its way all over the world, including South Georgia Island near Antarctica.

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


We Are Water Protectors

By Carole Lindstrom/Illustrated by Michaela Goade

(Roaring Brook Press, 2020; 40 pages; ages 3 to 6)

Water is a sacred resource that flows through us all, as the blue-hued illustrations from this Caldecott-winning book show us. A Native American story tells of a black snake that will threaten the water that gives us life. This creature from a long-ago prophecy is interpreted to be the Dakota Access Pipeline in this tale written by Carole Lindstrom of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, and beautifully illustrated by Michaela Goade, a member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The people who fought to stop the pipeline from crossing the Missouri River are still here, the book explains, and this story captures the spirit of those who continue to speak up for nature.

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


Outside In

By Deborah Underwood/Illustrated by Cindy Derby

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020; 40 pages; ages 4 to 7)

“Outside” is its own character in this story about the irresistible pull of the natural world. A little girl in a red shirt grapples with being inside—until Outside reminds her that it is always there, waiting with treasures. Just through the girl’s window, butterflies flash their bright colors, birds and chirps and tap, and smells waft through the air, scenes illustrated with whimsical watercolor paintings. And creatures that live outdoors sometimes come in, seeking shelter or riding in on our food. The interplay between the two worlds on the pages is sure to intrigue young readers, helping them see how one setting is linked to the other. 

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


A Garden to Save the Birds

By Wendy McClure/Illustrated by Beatriz Mayumi

(Albert Whitman, 2021; 32 pages; ages 4 to 8)

Kids can affect change, and this instructive tale about a family’s effort to help birds is sure to inspire kids to take action in real life. In A Garden to Save the Birds, Emmy and Callum hear a bird fly into their window. Thankfully, it is unharmed—but their mother tells them many birds aren’t so lucky. Inspired, the siblings set out to transform their neighborhood into a bird-friendly haven. They turn their lights off at night to keep from confusing migrating birds, make a birdfeeder out of a pumpkin, and even convince a neighbor to keep his cat indoors. As the months go by, they see their work helps the insects and plants, too. Eventually, the whole community pitches in, and the neighborhood becomes certified wildlife habitat full of birdbaths, feeders, and brush piles that invite birds to come and nest.

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


Bird Boy 

By Matthew Burgess/Illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

(Knopf Books for Young Adults, 2021; 32 pages; ages 4-8) 

Going to a new school can be scary, but being creative and kind can help us trust ourselves, a lesson Matthew Burgess’s Bird Boy teaches readers. Nico, the new kid, at first shies away from the huddled, whispering kids on the playground. Instead, he decides to sit in the grass with the sun on his face, and he befriends the birds around him. This earns Nico the nickname Bird Boy, a moniker he embraces. Soon, he’s imagining himself as a diving penguin, a soaring pelican, and a macaw calling at dusk. He makes one friend, and then another, who appreciate Nico's wild imagination and join him in all the fun that birding offers.

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


Blue Floats Away

By Travis Jonker/Illustrated by Grant Snider

(Harry N. Abrams, 2021; 40 pages; ages 4 to 8)

Little Blue, an iceberg, unexpectedly breaks away from his parents one day. On his journey through the ocean, he sees new things, like sailboats and a lighthouse, learning about the wind and currents that will help him get home. Before he gets there, though, he melts away, transforming from his former self into something else entirely. Though he’s different, he’s not gone. Through Little Blue's experience, told simply with illustrations of bright blues and contrasting oranges reminiscent of the late Eric Carle’s artwork, readers learn how the water cycle works. Thanks to Little Blue's adventures, readers develop an appreciation for how water changes while moving through the environment.

Buy it at Bookshop.org.



By Andrea Wang/Illustrated by Jason Chin

(Neal Porter Books, 2021; 32 pages; ages 4 to 8)

What might foraging for plants teach us about our history? In this story inspired by author Andrea Wang’s childhood experiences, the answer is: “Quite a lot.”

At first, when a family stops to gather wild watercress from the side of a road in Ohio, their children are embarrassed. The kids wonder why they are helping their parents collect plants that grow in mud that squishes through their toes instead of going to the grocery store. Later, when the family cooks the watercress in garlic and sprinkles it with sesame seeds, the little girl doesn’t want to eat the unfamiliar food. But then, her mother shares memories about the great famine in China, when the family relied on anything they could find, and it still was not enough. The story makes the little girl feel differently about what’s on her plate and together, her family creates a new memory. Illustrated with pastels painted with Chinese and western brushes, this book will inspire readers to consider the plants that grow around us and the culinary cultures that help shape our identities.

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


Fatima’s Great Outdoors

By Ambreen Tariq/Illustrated by Stevie Lewis

(Kokila, 2021; 40 pages, ages 4 to 8)

Fatima's had a hard week at school: Her classmates scrunch their noses when she eats her lunch and tease her about how she pronounces certain words. But her family’s weekend camping trip in a state park proves to be the perfect antidote. Fatima helps her dad set up the tent, and the family tells stories about India around the campfire. Written by Ambreen Tariq, the founder of Brown People Camping, a group that promotes diversity in the outdoors, Fatima's Great Outdoors is an inspiring reminder that parks are for everyone, and that being outside can help us develop the confidence to overcome our fears. 

Buy it at Bookshop.org.


Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey

By Robert Burleigh/Illustrated by Wendell Minor

(Henry Holt and Company, 2020; 40 pages; ages 5 to 9)

Bird migration is treacherous, and this fictionalized account of Tiny Bird, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, shows us just how hazardous the 1,500-mile journey can be. Written in poetic prose, the story weaves in facts about the species as it details one bird’s perilous and exciting travels. As the summer turns to fall, Tiny Bird sips nectar from flowers, preparing for its trip from the Northeast, down across the Gulf of Mexico, and to its final winter destination: tropical forests in Central America. It evades notice high up in the sky, eats insects, and escapes from a hunting hawk. Crossing the Gulf, it evades hungry fish and survives storms. Will it make it? You’ll be cheering for Tiny Bird all the way.

Buy it at Bookshop.org.