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Rainforests Topic

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Rainforest Topic Booklist

Rainforests are warm, wet and dense forest habitats and are filled with millions of types of plants and animals (including some yet to be discovered!). Rainforest expeditions can easily capture the imaginations of young readers. From canopies and capybaras to epiphytes and explorers, we’ve got it covered in our selection of the best children’s books for the rainforest topic…

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Picturebooks about rainforests

James Sellick
 & Frann Preston-Gannon
Picturebook

A message-based picture book originating from a viral Greenpeace film that highlighted the plight of orangutans, the dangers of deforestation and the misuse of palm oil.

A little girl discovers a cheeky Rang-tan causing chaos at home. At first, she orders the Rang-tan to go away, but she soon realises that he has a story to tell and she stops to listen. The Rang-tan explains how its real home in the rainforest is being destroyed by humans with trees being burned down in order to extract palm oil for making human products shampoo and chocolate. Horrified by what she has heard, the little girl takes action immediately and, in doing so, informs the reader of positive steps they could take to help make a difference to the Rang-tan’s habitat.

Beautifully illustrated, ‘There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom’ is charming and enjoyable as a story for younger children while remaining clear and unapologetic in its message about a real danger to the natural world. Frann Preston-Gannon’s illustrations powerfully juxtapose images of the fragility of the Rang-tan – with its adorable large eyes and childlike poses appealing to the girl for protection – alongside unhappy scenes of the destruction of the rainforest habitat causing a whole host of animals to flee.

Extra information about palm oil production and ideas for helping orangutans – including how to write a campaign letter – are included at the end of the book, so that positive action is a logical step for those moved by the story’s message.

 
Jeannie Baker
Picturebook

Where the Forest Meets the Sea is a hauntingly beautiful picture book that forces the reader to consider what is really lost when humans build upon previously untouched landscapes. The story follows a boy and his grandad as they explore a largely untouched wet-tropical rainforest that meets the sea. The pictures contain hidden images depicting past inhabitants, teaching the reader how the forest has supported life beyond just the modern snapshot. The question mark that hangs over this beautiful landscape is saved for the very last image. As a reader, this book manages to make me feel innocent and guilty at the same time and, in a very accessible way, forces the reader to consider the natural environment and how it should be protected and not just for the sake of the future, but for the sake of the past.

If you are looking for a book to stimulate discussion and debate about the effects human beings can have on the natural world, this is the one for you. The illustrations are so incredibly detailed (there is also a big book edition available on Amazon that is perfect for detail-spotting) that you might be forgiven for thinking that some of them are photographs. The book has won multiple awards and is sparking deep consideration of the past, present and future of the rainforest.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang
 & Jeet Zdung
Graphic Novel
Written by scientist and environmental activist Trang Nguyen, Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is an inspirational graphic-novel adventure, based on a true story about a young conservationist who overcomes the odds to save a sun bear.When Chang discovers a bear farm near her home in Vietnam, she decides to do everything she can to save wild animals – by becoming a conservationist! After teaching herself survival skills and learning all she can about the rainforest, Chang is finally accepted as a rescue centre volunteer. But her toughest challenge yet comes when she makes a vow to return Sorya – the sun bear she raised from infancy – back to the wild. Because despite being a different species, Sorya is Chang’s best friend. And letting a friend go is never easy, even when it’s the right thing to do.With breathtaking graphic-novel style illustrations by award-winning manga artist Jeet Zdung, Chang’s daring story is for any young reader, animal lover, and intrepid explorer who’s ready for adventure!
Charlotte Guillain
 & Sam Usher
Picturebook
Told in gentle rhyming verse, this beautiful non-fiction picture book follows the story of a flock of colourful macaws as they live their lives in the Amazon rainforest. Through the voice of one of the macaws, we hear about the bounty of the rainforest, as well as the challenges they have faced – threatened by the destruction of their home through machinery and forest fires to make room for vast plantations. Still, there are some areas where the land is protected and they can live a life of freedom among the trees... perhaps in the future, humans will learn the true value of the forest once again?Accompanying non-fiction pages at the end of the book include information on on endangered macaws, the importance of the rainforest, and the causes of deforestation, as well as what we can do to help.

Catherine Ward
 & Karin Littlewood
Picturebook

‘The Emerald Forest’ is a gorgeous and moving picture book bringing to life the plight of orangutans on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

The story, written by Catherine Ward, is written in prose but its language is poetic and has a lovely rhythm to it, making it perfect for reading aloud. Karin Littlewood’s illustrations are stunning, and the size of the pages and the scope of the pictures, bursting with the greenery and light of the Indonesian forest, create an immersive experience. In one illustration, it feels as if the orangutan is looking right at you. Because of this, the experience of the orangutans as their habitat comes under attack is felt on an emotional level too. The plight of the orangutans is unsettling, but the message overall is one of hope, as the orangutans are rescued and rehomed in the story.

The book encourages the reader to look towards a future where the forests of Sumatra might recover if people play a part in protecting them. This stunning picturebook would be invaluable for use in a class topic on the use of palm oil, or more generally in talking about the impact of human activity – for better and for worse – on the environment.

Mary Auld
 & Dawn Cooper
Picturebook

Little Brown Nut is the newest addition to the series, ‘Start Small, Think Big’ covering growth and life cycles. This non-fiction picture book tells the story of the Brazil nut tree and shows why the rainforest is important to local people and the wider world. The book features full-colour illustrations, a textured cover with a peep-through hole and giant fold-out map, and covers themes of life cycles, tree germination, photosynthesis and habitats,

The reader is instantly transported through the peep-hole cover into the Amazon Rainforest to experience the story of the brazil nut, as told through first-person (or first-nut!) narrative. The journey spans from the nut falling from its tree, to encountering a wide variety of animals on the forest floor and being buried to finally meeting humans, who will use the nuts they gather in the forest in different ways. The non-fiction/story blend explains the life-cycle of the nut with questions for the reader to explore further, such as ‘Can you see…?’ sparking interest and interaction. The interaction continues through to the end pages, with an impressive six-page fold-out section inside the back cover that will go down a treat in the classroom (including a life-cycle diagram and map of South America) and an I-Spy type game to encourage readers to have a second look.

The main text is aimed at emerging readers, with additional information for confident readers and shared reading with an adult. We particularly like learning new vocabulary, eg: agouti (rodent-like guinea pig of the rainforest) and that it’s filled with facts about how something as small as a single brazil nut is so interconnected with both its local habitat and the wider world. Schools will value this as an interactive non-fiction text that immediately captures children’s interests as well as one that aids learning in topics about rainforests, life cycles and habitats.

Chapter books about rainforests

Katherine Rundell
Chapter book

Winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2017, ‘The Explorer’ is set in the Amazon and follows the story of Fred, whose plane accidentally crashes into the rainforest canopy.

The Explorer is an exciting and gripping adventure that sees four children learning to survive as they journey through unfamiliar and challenging circumstances. This book transports you to a richly drawn land and you will find yourself right there with the children as they follow a map to a lost city, eating tarantulas and swimming with river dolphins.

Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer is a perfect class read for children learning about rainforests, the Amazon, friendships, resilience and much more. Exquisite writing from Katherine Rundell; teachers report that the quality of discussions that ensued in classrooms was inspiring.

A must-read for children before they leave primary school!

Eva Ibbotson
Chapter book

Winner of the Smarties Book Prize Gold Award, this is a very popular choice for KS2. It tells the story of a small girl called Maia, who journeys down the Amazon River with her strict governess, making friends and enemies along the way. It is rich in descriptive language in both its depiction of the Brazilian jungle and in its descriptions of complex and cruel characters that will stay with you long after you close the book.

Michael Morpurgo
Chapter book
This novel, by the popular children's author Michael Morpurgo, is set in the Indonesian Rainforest. It tells the story of Will, who is left fighting for survival in the rainforest with an enchanting elephant called Oona.
Sj King
Chapter book
In this fun, fact-filled children's science book, we follow rainforest expert Ollie on an exciting mission to rescue a lost baby orangutan in the steamy rainforest of Borneo. Accompanied by engineering expert Kiki, they set out in a glider to search for the friendly ape. Along the way, they encounter greedy plantation owners who are plotting to destroy the forest to expand a palm oil plantation! They also learn about the threat that endangered animals and plants face due to deforestation. Kids will love turning the pages to find out if the Secret Explorers manage to succeed in their mission!
Emma Rea
Chapter book
Dylan's mum thinks he's on the school Geography trip. Dylan's teacher thinks he's at home with the flu. In fact he's 30,000 feet up in the air on the way to Brazil. When Dylan's farm is snatched away by a huge global company, he can't just sit back and watch. But the journey to rescue his home takes him deep into the heart of the Amazon. With Floyd, a friend he's not sure of, and Lucia, a street kid armed with a thesaurus and a Great Dane puppy, he uncovers dark and dangerous secrets and learns some surprising truths.

Non-fiction books about rainforests

Charlotte Milner
Non-fiction
Step inside the fascinating world of tropical rainforests where you'll encounter an enormous variety of flora and fauna! This gorgeously illustrated picture book is a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of nature and conservation. In this colour non-fiction text, you'll discover amazing rainforest animals, learn about the diverse range of life-giving plants, and find out why the Amazon rainforest is known as the "lungs" of our Earth.
Simon Chapman
Non-fiction

A scrapbook-style diary of a rainforest expedition. Simon is flying to the island of Borneo in the South China Sea. He plans to travel by boat and plane, and trek through one of the world’s oldest rainforests to find orangutans in their natural equitorial habitat. He’ll be sketching some of the island’s thousands of species of tree, mammal and bird along the way. Simon Chapman, winner of the Blue Peter Book Award, brings geography to life, and his Expedition Diaries are a great way to introduce the world’s biomes and habitats to children, direct from someone who’s actually been in them – sometimes up to his neck! Also available in the same series is Expedition Diaries: Amazon Basin.

Kate Messner
Non-fiction
Tree of Wonder is an exciting introduction to the biodiversity of the rainforest biome. From two Great Green Macaws to 1,024 Leaf-cutter Ants, readers will delight in counting each animal that makes a home in the heart of the rainforest, where life multiplies again and again in the shade of just one almendro tree.
Catherine Barr
 & Jean Claude
Non-fiction Picturebook
Discover why we must protect the Amazon from climate change.Bursting with all kinds of life, the Amazon is one of the most incredible places on Earth. This richly illustrated picture book brings to life this extraordinary region for young children, exploring its tropical rainforest and scenic landscapes. It showcases the lush wildlife, diverse communities and life-saving medicines that can all be found there and therefore why it is so important that we act to protect this special part of the planet from the impact of climate change.
Susie Brooks
Non-fiction
Go on a journey through the world's rainforests, from the Amazon rainforest to Costa Rica, answering questions such as why on Earth does it rain so much? Where are there forests in the clouds? And how can a tree cure disease? Along with many others. It looks at medicines, monkeys, poisonous snakes, venomous spiders, stinky flowers, enormous trees, and much, much more. Crammed full of amazing animals and astonishing plants, geography has never been so exciting!Packed to the gills with far-out facts and fascinating information, the Where on Earth? series makes standard KS2 geography topics lively, fun, pacey and interesting.

Anita Ganeri
 & Margaux Carpentier
Non-fiction Picturebook

The Story of Chico Mendes is a story that is perfect for children in KS2 learning about rainforests, as well as inspirational figures who have changed the world for the better.

Chico Mendes is a hero that everyone should know about. Chico was a rubber tapper who stood up for his community and the importance of preserving the Amazon rainforest. Being an environmental activist, Chico worked tirelessly to help others and was recognised for his efforts by being awarded for his work towards protecting the rainforests by multiple countries. Tragically, Chico was murdered whilst working for this cause due to his efforts to support the rubber tappers, waking up the world to the plight of the rainforest destruction and protesting about the clearing of the forest.

Each page features beautiful coloured illustrations to support the text in each section. It is a recommendable book for use in sharing why it is important to protect the rainforests and also about highlighting the difference one person can make. There are plenty of interesting Amazon rainforest facts and a supporting glossary with technical language.

This is a special book to be shared with a class and an excellent addition to rainforest topic texts or classroom libraries.

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