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Habitats and Ecosystems

best childrens books about habitats and ecosystems

Recommended children’s books about habitats and ecosystems

In this collection of the best children’s books about habitats and ecosystems, young readers can explore diverse landscapes and discover the intricate web of life that sustains each unique environment.

The Incredible Ecosystems of Planet Earth and The Atlas of Ocean Adventures offer exciting, beautifully illustrated journeys through diverse habitats around the world, meeting the creatures who live there and learning more about the challenges they face. Alongside a fabulous collection of non-fiction titles, this list also features chapter books to ignite the imaginations of aspiring conservationists, such as The Last Bear and The Akimbo Adventures.

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Children's picturebooks about animal habitats

Justin Anderson
 & Patrick Benson
A spellbinding new Nature Storybook about one of the most beautiful creatures in the world, with words by Planet Earth producer Justin Anderson and pictures by award-winning Patrick Benson. "Something moves in the rocks ahead. My hands start to tremble. My heart is beating fast. There, just a few footsteps away, is a snow leopard…"Join us on a journey high into the snowy peaks of the Himalaya, and discover the secret world of a rare and utterly majestic creature – how it has adapted to the harsh environment it lives in and how it looks after its young. Complete with an index and a conservation note, this is a wonderful addition to the series and the debut of an exciting new voice in non-fiction writing for children.
Lara Hawthorne
In this beautifully illustrated picture book from Lara Hawthorne, a mysterious creature from a secluded volcano crater explores the outside world for the very first time . . . but is it not what he expects it to be! Will his adventure teach him there is no place like home?Ratty lives deep inside the crater of an ancient volcano nestled in the rainforest. One day, he spies a particularly delicious-looking fruit high in the treetops, and sets out to reach it. From this high vantage point a spectacular view stretches before him - the world outside his mountain crater. In this big outside world, Ratty imagines, the fruit must be much sweeter, the bird songs more beautiful and the other animals far more interesting and sophisticated, and so he sets off in search of better things. But when is he is asked to attend a dinner party by a crocodile who seems just a bit too friendly, Ratty realises that perhaps there is no place like home after all.Inspired by the recent scientific breakthroughs of Mount Bosavi, in which over 40 new species of animals and plants were identified, Lara Hawthorne seamlessly combines story and fact in this picture book which celebrates the diversity of life, even in extreme habitats.
Chloe Savage

Seeing the elusive and never-before-seen Giant Arctic Jellyfish is Dr Morley’s life ambition. She adores jellyfish and has spent her life studying and researching the ultimate jellyfish: The Giant Arctic Jellyfish. Once her crew are assembled, they embark on their adventure to the cold Arctic on their boat to search the icy waters. They find a whole array of Arctic creatures in their polar habitat including narwhals, polar bears, beluga whales and orcas. They travel around the Arctic taking scientific samples and measurements: trying to find clues of the where abouts of the jellyfish but there is no sign. As time goes on, the team try and stay positive, but this is difficult in the harsh and cold conditions. After months, with still no sign, the team decide to pack up and return home – Dr Morley takes one last look around her – will she ever achieve her dream of the seeing the mysterious jellyfish?

A moving adventure story which shows the importance of perseverance in finding, chasing and achieving one’s dreams. The book is beautifully illustrated and adds to the story and adventure. As you read along, you can spot the Giant Arctic jellyfish on most pages – Where’s Wally? style – which is really engaging for younger readers and makes you urge on Dr Morley and her team.

The story is easy to read and follow and some of the language is suitably challenging for KS2 as well as KS1. I really enjoyed the story and illustrations and read it to my child, who enjoyed it so much that he has now claimed the book for his own.

Lily Murray
 & Britta Teckentrup
Bestselling illustrator Britta Teckentrup explores the world of bugs in a sumptuously illustrated paperback edition.There are bugs everywhere! Some of them live in jungles, some of them underwater, and some certainly live in your house.There are Bugs Everywhere is the second in a series of non-fiction books from Britta Teckentrup. Young readers will learn where in the world all sorts of animals can be found and all the weird and wonderful things about them that they never imagined were true.With an added search-and-find element, this is non-fiction with spark and personality from a much-loved illustrator.
Libby Walden
 & Richard Jones
Our mountain watches over us – steadfast and strong...Discover the secrets of the mountain in this stunning picture book. Watch the world transform as day turns to night and explore the never-ending possibilities of nature as you travel up and down the mountain.

Catherine Ward
 & Karin Littlewood

‘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.

James Sellick
 & Frann Preston-Gannon
A stunning picture book about one little girl and her orangutan friend, based on the Greenpeace film that became a viral sensation. When a little girl discovers a mischievous orangutan on the loose in her bedroom, she can't understand why it keeps shouting OOO! at her shampoo and her chocolate. But when Rang-tan explains that there are humans running wild in her rainforest, burning down trees so they can grow palm oil to put in products, the little girl knows what she has to do: help save the orangutans! Extra pages at the back include information about orangutans and palm oil plus exciting ideas about how young readers can make a difference.

Children's chapter books about habitats of the world

Hannah Gold
 & Levi Pinfold
Chapter book

A beautifully heartfelt and moving story with strong environmental themes. This story highlights the topic of global warming but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals.

When April heads to a remote Arctic island with her father, who is there for scientific research, she’s not sure exactly what to expect. The trip to ‘Bear Island’ has the potential to be a very lonely trip – with endless summer Arctic nights, an isolated wilderness and, according to her father, no actual polar bears left on the island for April to spot despite its name.

Surprisingly, April encounters a real polar bear on the island when nobody else is around. Isolated from his family, the bear is starving and alone, with nobody to help him. Over time, a friendship develops and April becomes more determined than ever to save the bear. April knows that she will have to tread carefully to nourish the bear in secret and to navigate the issue of making the adults listen at the right moment. Before long, April realises she is witnessing first-hand the impact of a much bigger global problem. With courage in the face of powerlessness, April embarks upon a quest to get the bear to safety in an adventure that she will never forget.

There’s something magical about this story – from the wonderfully evoked Arctic setting to the glorious friendship that develops between April and the bear. There often seems to be a direct connection and a deep instinct to care that exists between children and the natural world. This connection is highlighted in the story through how April can make a difference in the plight of the bear despite her feeling of powerlessness. Many young readers who do care about climate change will relate to April’s frustration at the inaction of many people, to her sadness at the plight of our precious planet and to her desire to make a difference, even through the smallest of actions.

This is a powerful and important story that will stir the heart through its gently unfolding message that places hope in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet’s future.

Jess Butterworth
Chapter book
Twelve-year-old Eliza and her sister Avery have lived their entire lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Louisiana, growing up alongside turtles, pelicans and porpoises. But now, with sea levels rising, their home is at risk of being swept away.Determined to save the land, Eliza and her younger sister Avery secretly go searching in the swamp for the dangerous, wolf-like loup-garou . If they can prove this legendary creature exists, they're sure that the government will have to protect its habitat - and their community. But there's one problem: the loup-garou has never been seen before. And with a tropical storm approaching and the sisters deep, deep in the swampland, soon it's not just their home at risk, but their lives as well...
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!
Alexander McCall Smith
Chapter book
This book contains three stories about nature at its most wild and thrilling. Akimbo lives on the edge of an African game reserve where he helps his father to protect the animals in their natural habitat. In these adventures he saves elephants from sneaky poachers, rescues a trapped lion cub and saves a man from the jaws of a crocodile. Highly recommended for KS2.
Melissa Harrison
Chapter book

If you’ve ever stared in awe at the complexity of a mighty tree and allowed yourself to wonder if creatures beyond our knowledge might dwell in its branches, or even wondered hopefully whether there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, this book will validate each and every one of those secret, imaginative musings. The story follows the adventure of three tiny, funny, eternal beings – also known as the Hidden Folk. When the trio wake from winter hibernation one year in their cherished ash tree home, things don’t go as expected. Their beautiful home becomes destroyed, and the three set off on an adventure to find others like them. They journey through town and country, greeted along the way by a series of friendly and not-so-friendly animals. Will they ever find a place to call home – and are they really the last ones of their kind left? This would make a fabulous read-aloud for children in KS2, and will resonate well with anyone who loved the worlds of tiny people in The Borrowers, The Minpins or Toby Alone. The story sings of the wonders of nature on almost every page, and gives a gentle plea for humans to take conservation more seriously

Children's non-fiction about animals and their habitats

Chris Packham
 & Jason Cockcroft
Non-fiction Picturebook
Get ready to meet some fascinating animals and find out all about their incredible homes in this beautiful and informative non-fiction picture book written by wildlife expert and BBC presenter Chris Packham. Just like us, animals need a place to call home. From a beaver's dam and a honey bee's hive to a red ovenbird's nest and a snail's shell, explore the amazing homes of some incredible creatures from all over the world. Uncover extra information about these fascinating animals in the Find Out More section at the back of the book. An excellent source of expert wildlife information for all young nature lovers, this animal book is the perfect introduction to the natural world for children.
Hannah Pang
 & Isobel Lundie
Non-fiction Picturebook
Nature is like a magical journey that transforms with every step.Peel back the pages of this gloriously illustrated book to discover a world of ever-changing animal habitats. Interactive split pages create an immersive experience: readers are taken on a visual journey through each unique home, as they meet the incredible animals that live there. With simple facts and stunning, collaged artwork, this is the perfect book for nature lovers.From mountain tops to forest floors, from vast oceans to shifting sands – animal habitats connect to form one amazing home. Our home. Our Earth.
Matt Whyman, Richard Jones & Sir David Attenborough
This stunning children's non-fiction hardback is the accompaniment to the Netflix series Our Planet. This is the kind of book that readers young and old will love to pore over, from the powerful photographs of melting ice caps to the facts and figures about palm oil plantations and endangered sea life. There is so much to learn and think about. The book has a foreword by Sir David Attenborough, who says ‘You will be among the next characters who can, if they wish, tell the most extraordinary story of all - how human beings in the twenty-first century came to their senses and started to protect Planet Earth'. What follows is a visual ode to Planet Earth told through extraordinary photography from the series combined with appealing illustrations that draw in younger readers and help them to understand nature's amazing interplay of habitats and ecosystems. Small sections of text further explain the images, giving snapshots of animals' lifestyles as well as presenting hard-hitting facts about the dangers they face. We learn how orangutans have incredible mapping skills to navigate their jungle homes but also how we lose 100 orangutans a week due to human actions like hunting and deforestation. We find out how beautiful lantern-fish light their own way along with 17-metre long oarfish in the high seas, but also how plastic peril and high-seas fishing put the incredible marine life there in danger. The tone of the book is one to inspire rather than to frighten readers into action. The book is not at all without hope for the future, and the nudge to make personal changes comes through simple tips like choosing products carefully and supporting sustainable fishing. Moreover, with photographs as stunning as these, it is hard for readers of all ages not to feel inspired to take steps to protect the natural world from our own destructive actions. With something to offer to the whole primary age range and beyond, this is the kind of nonfiction book that inspires and informs in equal parts and is one to treasure in classrooms and homes.
Jon Richards
 & Josy Bloggs
This series of stunning illustrated texts demonstrates the stories behind some of nature's greatest phenomena.In 'Habitats', find out about the most extreme ecosystems from around the world, and the weird and wonderful things that exist within them. With contents covering diverse environments and their inhabitants, from the gargantuan trees of the temperate rainforests to the great grazers that occupy tropical grasslands, this book is a wonderful way to learn about a range of habitats.Key information is presented in accessible chunks and accompanied by stunning panoramic illustrations, whilst infographic panels offer the reader memorable bite-sized facts. All animals included in the text are also featured on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. With an interest range of 9-11 years, this book is ideal for children in late-KS2 who are looking to learn more about nature and environments.

Children's non-fiction about habitats, biomes and ecosystems

Simon Chapman
Simon has arrived in New Delhi, India,on the start of his journey to Corbett National Park and intowetlands, desert, and low-lying dry forest beyond. He's searching for the endangered Bengal tiger. But early on, the trip doesn't go according to plan, when Simon is involved in a car crash ...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! These books are perfect for sparking interest in this key school topic.
Simon Chapman
Simon is in Darwin, Australia, preparing to travel through the unique mix of tropical forest, savannah and desert that make up the Australian Outback. But he's already worrying if his 4x4 is up to the job, and about the dangers posed by crocodiles, spiders and snakes - and road trains!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! These books are perfect for sparking interest in this key school topic.
Catherine Barr
 & Jean Claude
Discover why we must protect Okavango Delta from climate change.Explore the Okavango Delta, Africa’s incredible inland wetland, a sparkling jewel at the heart of the Kalahari Desert. This richly illustrated picture book brings to life this extraordinary region for young children, navigating its maze of shimmering lagoons, meandering channels and overgrown islands teeming with wildlife. In this watery wilderness, lion, cheetah, leopard and African wild dog share the floodplains with large herds of elephant and buffalo. It delves into the important role wetlands play in reducing the effects of greenhouse gases, and showcases the rich wildlife and diverse communities 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.
Helen Scales
 & Lisk Feng

The Great Barrier Reef is a colourfully illustrated, delightful book full of facts. From the first page, the beautiful illustrations draw the reader in to learn all about the story of the Great Barrier Reef from how it began to the present day.

This book is full of information which could be shared in discussion or independently. You can dip into different sections, and focus on particular areas such as who dwells in the reef to shipwrecks and legendary tales as well as learning from the illustrations, so there is something for everyone. There is a glossary of technical language to explore, linking to science as well as geography.

This beautiful book is a captivating read for children and adults of all ages, with a clear message about protecting the wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef for future generations – not least because there is nowhere else in the world quite like it.

Emily Hawkins
 & Lucy Letherland

Atlas of Ocean Adventures is an oversized hardback with immersive illustrations that showcase the natural wonders and marine marvels from different oceans of the world. Each impressive double-page spread features a different sea creature in its natural habitat, including a range of fish, marine birds and larger mammals. Maps, illustrations, captions and text boxes work together to build a picture of the incredible diversity of ocean life around the world.

Rachel Ignotofsky
An illustrated tour of our planet's ecosystems both large and small, from reefs, deserts and rainforests to a single drop of water - from the bestselling author of Women in Science . Through exquisite illustrations, maps and infographics, bestselling author Rachel Ignotofsky explains how our planet works, from its incredible ecosystems and the plants and animals that live there to the importance of biodiversity , weather cycles and more. Including information on the dangers of climate change and ideas for how to protect Planet Earth, this utterly charming guide is the perfect gift for all nature-loving readers on the planet we call home.
Mary Auld
 & Dawn Cooper

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.

Matthew Biggs
Journey across 40 incredible habitats around the world to discover the biggest, boldest, and stinkiest plants Without plants there would be no life on Earth, but most people are blind to their impact. This stylish and informative introduction to plants sets out to cure ‘plant blindness’ by introducing children to 66 amazing plants from the six major climactic zones around the world.From the smelliest, such as the massive Titan Arum of the Indonesian rainforest, which stinks of rotting flesh to attract insects, to the hardest-working, including peat moss, an overlooked bog plant that helps protect our planet by trapping carbon dioxide, readers will learn about the vital role of plants in Nature through detailed, vibrant illustrations and fascinating facts. Children will also learn how to use their new-found knowledge of the plant’s natural environment to care for the plants around them and at home.Matthew Biggs’ research included consulting eminent botanists around the globe and referencing scientific papers. This book teaches children about plants in the context of their natural environment, and is ideal for geography and biology curricular tie ins, as well as being a book that will inspire children to love and care for the plants around them. This is the perfect compendium for plant-lovers, budding gardeners, and would-be botanists and nature-lovers alike.
Charlotte Guillain
 & Jo Empson
Non-fiction Picturebook

The River that Flows Beside Me follows the course of a river from its source, high in the mountains, to its mouth where it meets the sea. It travels across a dam, past meadows and farms and, finally, through a town and a port. As we follow the river we see some of the wildlife which use it as a food source as well as a home. We see how different natural features are formed over time, such as an oxbow lake and a gorge. We also see how humans use the river, from farming to leisure activities such as canoeing as well as for transporting both people and goods.

The book contains a wealth of subject-specific vocabulary, especially if you are studying rivers, and is beautifully illustrated. The illustrations are labelled with points of interest (such as animal names) and the text is broken up into small, manageable chunks.

One of the best features of this book is that the pages fold out, allowing you to follow the whole course of the river as it flows across the pages. The pages themselves are made of a sturdy card which will stand up to many foldings and refoldings.

A gem of a book!

Kate Messner
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.

Charlotte Milner
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.

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