12 Books for Nature-Loving Babies and Toddlers

For babies and toddlers, I seek out books about familiar plants and animals. You can teach kids about strangler figs and spider monkeys later (unless you live in a rainforest). Here is a list of books to encourage babies and toddlers to pay attention to the wonders of nature that surround them.

Busy Birdies by John Shindel and Steven Holt. The highlight of Busy Birdies is Steven Holt’s fantastic photographs of birds. Rhyming couplets describe the birds’ behaviors: “Busy, busy birdies. What are they doing? Birdy nibbling. Birdy dribbling. Birdies eyeing. Birdies flying…” John Shindel and Steven Holt have teamed up to create five Busy Books, including Busy Barnyard and Busy ChickensAges 0+

Time for Bed by Mem Fox. This comforting rhyme describes common animals heading to bed. Anthropomorphic descriptions of the animals urging their babies to sleep are paired with realistic illustrations. Ages 0+


In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming. Denise Flemming’s books combine gorgeous illustrations with great rhymes. In the Small, Small Pond describes the actions of various pond animals. My kids enjoy searching for the frog on each page. Look for other Denise Flemming books, including In the Tall, Tall Grass, Beetle Bop and Barnyard Banter. Ages 0+

Stones by PlayBac. A good book to encourage young children to play with and enjoy rocks. Stones has nice photographs of children throwing rocks into water, making rock sculptures, sharing rocks with friends and more. Stones is one in a series of books that also includes Sticks, Snow, and Leaves. Ages 0+

Quentin Blake’s Ten Frogs: A First Book About Numbers by Quentin Blake. I love Quentin Blake’s illustrations! They are both fun and sufficiently realistic that kids will be able to identify the common animals depicted (1 crow, 2 goats, 3 dogs…etc.). Two other beautifully-illustrated animal/counting books are Teeth, Tails & Tentacles by Christopher Wormell and Charley Harper’s 123s by Charley Harper. Ages 0+

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. A lovely story for introducing toddlers to the butterfly life cycle. (If you are concerned about scientific accuracy, feel free to substitute the word “chrysalis” for “cacoon”.) The large board book edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar has cutouts that toddlers will enjoy playing with. Ages 1+

Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi. While Taro Gomi’s Spring is Here is one of my favorite books, Everyone Poops has been the bigger hit with my kids. Everyone Poops currently fascinates my one-year-old, who has been experimenting with using the potty. In addition, Everyone Poops has helped turn my two older children into scat sleuths. Ages 1+

My Spring Robin by Anne Rockwell. One of my favorite books ever. I love Anne Rockwell’s description of an observant girl searching her yard for the first spring robin. My Spring Robin is perfectly paced for very young children. Ages 2+

First the Egg by Laura Seeger. With lovely illustrations and well-placed cutouts, Laura Seeger depicts transformations of egg to chicken, seed to flower, tadpole to frog, and more. Ages 2+


Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert. A beautifully illustrated book about a child planting a maple tree in his backyard and watching it change from one season to the next. Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf inspired us to plant a maple tree in our backyard. Ages 3+

Looking Closely Inside the Garden by Frank Serafini. My kids love all of the books in Frank Serafini’s Looking Closely series. These books encourage kids to pay attention to the the details in nature. Each book has the same format. A detail from an image (e.g. a butterfly’s wing) on one page is followed by the entire image (e.g. the entire butterfly) on the following page. Ages 3+

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins. Steve Jenkins has made a name for himself with his beautiful paper cut collage illustrations. What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? combines Jenkins’ collages with fascinating information about the various ways animals use their body parts. For example, kids will learn that elephants give themselves baths with their noses, that crickets have ears in their knees, and that some fish have four eyes rather than two. Ages 3+

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3 Responses to 12 Books for Nature-Loving Babies and Toddlers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love your material….Children are grown, but still read to grandkids..
    Is anyone interested in children’s short stories done in poetry?
    I’ve written and collected my own children’s short stories, but not sure what to do with them..
    Any ideas? I’m a dance teacher by trade and, of course, some have to do with that;

    Sincerely.,..Cindy Pepin

  2. Amy says:

    So glad you popped over too!

  3. So glad I popped over to look at this, I’ve not heard of half these books and they look great. Thank you. (popping over from Smiling Like Sunshine’s Book Sharing Monday).

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