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Plants & Trees Topic (KS2)

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Plants and Trees Topic Booklist

What makes ‘plants and trees’ such a fascinating science topic at KS2? Perhaps because trees are among the longest-living organisms on Earth and come in so many different shapes and sizes. Or maybe it’s because trees have been found to communicate to each other, or perhaps it’s the way that plants make their own food. Many children are also fascinated by the role plants and trees play in our planet’s ecosystem and are inspired to learn about our ability to step in and protect them. From petals and pollination to bark and branches, there’s plenty to enjoy in our selection of the best children’s books about plants and trees.

NB: This selection of books about plants and trees is aimed at children in KS2 (7-11). For books for younger children, try our Growing Plants KS1 list.

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Picturebooks about plants and trees

Donna Jo Napoli
 & Kadir Nelson

A picturebook telling the true story of Wangari Maathai, who who encouraged Kenyan women to plant trees to improve their lives and their environment. In time, the women used the branches from their trees to fence their animals, the leaves to ripen their bananas and the fruit to feed their families. As the planting movement spread, slowly the deforested Kenyan landscape became green with trees again. Today, more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree-and with each page turned, children will realize the power of planting trees as well as their own ability to positively impact the future.

Lara Hawthorne
As the summer sun sets over the Arizonan desert, wildlife gathers to witness a very special annual event. The night flower is about to bloom. This celebration transforms the quiet desert for just a short few hours into a riot of colour and sound, as mammals and insects congregate from miles away to take part in this miracle of nature. From pollinating fruit bats to howling mice and reptilian monsters, explore the unusual wildlife the desert has to offer in this beautiful rhyming non-fiction picture book.
Benjamin Flouw
Fox is an avid botanist. He loves all flowers and trees! One evening, whilst flicking through his books, he discovers the Golden Wonderflower. But little is known about this precious plant…And so, Fox embarks on an exciting journey following this curiosity. Join him on an adventure through forests, meadows and the mountains. Delight in the wonders that lie in nature’s remote corners. Lovers of the great outdoors will delight in a story that sends a powerful message about the environment and our wild, natural world.Benjamin Flouw’s rich illustrations catch the tranquillity of the unspoiled, depict the plants that Fox finds on his way and take the young reader on an exciting adventure into the wild.
Terry Fan & Eric Fan
Get lost in the imaginative world of the Fan Brothers: a place you'll want to revisit again and again."Something was happening on Grimloch Lane. Something good."One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. Each day, more topiaries appear, each one more beautiful than the last. Soon, William's grey little town is full of colour and life. And, though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William and his town are changed forever. With breathtaking illustrations and spare, sweet text, this masterpiece about enjoying the beauty of nature is sure to become an instant classic.A best-selling picture book about an orphan whose life is transformed by a mysterious night gardener bringing colour and life to his town.

Children's chapter books about plants and trees

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

Nicola Skinner
 & Flavia Sorrentino
Chapter book

Hilarious and truly original, here is a book with all the ingredients to take root and blossom wildly among the imaginations of young readers! We immediately loved the premise of the ‘surprising seeds’ that lead to an epidemic causing people to grow flowers out of their heads.

Sorrel Fallowfield is a rule follower. Never wishing to cause trouble for her overworked Mum or to break the strict rules of a perfection-demanding headteacher, Sorrel knows that she is in with an excellent chance of winning when school announces a competition to find the most perfectly-behaved student. Even better, the prize for the winner is a family holiday – which is exactly what Sorrel thinks her Mum needs the most.

Sorrel’s luck changes when a mysterious packet of seeds appears in her garden that have the most surprising effects. Before she knows it, the power of the seeds have taken root not just in Sorrel’s life but also in her whole community. Could nature be fighting back against a town that has eradicated all of its green spaces?

A stand-out story full of humour and heart.

Andy Shepherd
 & Sara Ogilvie
Chapter book

Imaginative and charming, The Boy Who Grew Dragons is a wonderfully whimsical story that kept me smiling the whole way through. The first in a series, this hugely entertaining adventure about a small boy and his pet dragon makes a super read-aloud for Year 3.

Tomas is busy in the garden with Grandad, planning which fruits to grow that might be turned into delicious jams or tarts. When Tomas stumbles across a strange tree with curious-looking fruit, he never expects that what might emerge from the fruit is a real live dragon! This is an adventure that is humorous at every turn, but also full of heart. Tomas is a great positive role model for showing how young people can apply curiosity and creativity to the process of growing and nurturing plants and see ‘magic’ in the course.

Coupled with charming illustrations by Sara Ogilvie, this early chapter book makes a fantastic choice for newly confident readers just taking off with independent reading and it will also go down a storm as an entertaining story choice.

Natasha Farrant
 & Lydia Corry
Short story collection
Magical interlinked stories about what one girl learns from talking to trees throughout Time and from around the world. Olive's best friend is a four-hundred-year-old oak tree, and it is in danger. As she tumbles into its magic world, she makes it a promise. From deep roots to high branches, a Persian garden to an underwater forest, from tulip trees to wild apple to vengeful box, she listens to the trees telling stories for all time. And she keeps her promise. With a conservation message and facts about tree science alongside the magicand wonder of seven beautifully imagined original stories, this full-colour book enchants and reminds us of the importance of trees in our lives.
Caryl Lewis
Chapter book
Seed is a funny, big-hearted story by award-winner Caryl Lewis about the power of hope and imagination when you believe in the impossible. Perfect for readers of 8-12. Illustrated in black and white throughout by George Ermos.Shortlisted for Breakthrough Children's Book of the Year, The Week Junior Book Awards Shortlisted for the Brandford Boase Award 2023Marty doesn't have much. Unlike his mum, who has billions of things: newspapers, holey shoes, rusty lawnmowers, broken picture frames – she keeps EVERYTHING! It's hard to leave the house. Marty wonders if anything will ever change.But on Marty's birthday, Grandad, with a glint in his eye, gifts Marty a very special seed. Grandad hasn't been this excited since he invented the bum scratcher 2000 or thought he'd brewed wonder fuel from rhubarb leaves! The seed grows bigger and bigger, and launches Grandad, Marty and his best friend Gracie on an impossible, wondrous plan fuelled by love, hopes and dreams.

Recommended non-fiction books about trees

Jen Green & Claire McElfatrick
Did you know that trees send underground messages? Have you heard that they take care of their families? A tree is so much more than it seems. Produced in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), this illustrated information book is the perfect introduction to the world of trees - above and below ground. Combining stunning photography with beautiful illustrations, turn the pages to find out how trees help prevent soil erosion, mark the seasons, and provide a habitat for wildlife. When you get to know these silent giants, you'll never look at trees the same way again.
Iris Volant
 & Cynthia Alonso

A beautifully presented hardback book that tells stories about lots of different trees – from the legend of the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, to the olive trees of Greece and the blossom in Japan – as well as giving factual information about seasonality, average height and where in the world they grow. A fascinating read for all ages, with brilliant and vibrant illustrations throughout. The book explores the importance of trees historically and culturally, and would encourage discussion around their importance with future generations

Nicola Davies
 & Lorna Scobie
Did you know that there are over 60,000 tree species? This stunning book explores the extraordinary diversity of trees and forests - the lungs of our earth. A glorious celebration of trees by non-fiction specialist Nicola Davies, illustrated by rising star Lorna Scobie, creators of the beautiful The Variety of Life . There is something to delight on every page with fascinating facts and figures. This exquisite book will encourage children to treasure the world's biodiversity and help to stop it slipping away.

Recommended non-fiction books about plants

Dianna Aston
 & Sylvia Long
This beautifully illustrated non-fiction text showcases how amazing seeds are. Each page shows how different types of seeds are perfectly adapted to survive, spread and grow into amazing plants. The text is poetic and the botanical illustrations are beautiful and detailed. If it never occurred to you to appreciate how amazing seeds can be, it will after reading this!
Kathy Willis
 & Katie Scott

This impressive hardback is the closest thing you can get to a museum in book form. Exhibited in the pages are all sorts of plants from different habitats around the globe, displayed with beautiful botanical illustrations and informative text explaining the science behind how each plant looks and behaves. This is a beautiful non-fiction text to treasure and to amaze readers with the incredible diversity of the plant world. There is also an accompanying activity book (available here) and poster book (available here).

Michael Holland
 & Philip Giordano

Flying Eye has built a reputation for publishing high-quality non-fiction for children and I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast is no exception. Its subtitle – A Celebration of Plants Around the World – is fitting, as the whole book bursts with colour, information and adoration.

The book is split into four main parts: All About Plants, World of Plants, From Breakfast Until Bedtime and The Power of Plants. Sections within these parts range from covering large concepts such as plants’ roles in food chains and food webs down to the interesting details about how plants help us look after our teeth. There are various “DIY” investigations and experiments to try such as making invisible ink and creating bottle gardens. The book is visually stunning throughout and playfully illustrated as a flying insect pops up frequently to guide us through it all. I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast strikes a great balance between the everyday uses and marvels of plants and the science within this. Each page serves to remind the reader of the wonder of plants which is all around us.

The page layout is such that each section is presented as a double-page spread and this would be particularly useful in schools. It would be very easy to base some great reading lessons around these spreads and, because plants play such a large role in so many things, teachers could link it to many areas of the curriculum if they wanted. There is, for example, a section on how various world flags use plants as symbols and a different one on their role in musical instruments. All this before the more obvious pages you would expect such as pollination and seed dispersal. Plants play a large role in the primary Science curriculum and so this book really is a gem that could be dipped into again and again in KS2.

Rizanino Reyes
 & Sara Boccacini Meadows
Discover 15 plants and fungi with heroic powers, then learn how to grow them. Meet their surprising relatives (the tasty tomato is a cousin of deadly nightshade!) and unearth their interesting histories (lettuce was the first vegetable to be grown in space!). Then follow step-by-step instructions to grow and care for each one, whether you have a big backyard garden or a sunny windowsill.
Leisa Stewart-Sharpe
 & Kim Smith
In collaboration with BBC Earth, this illustrated non-fiction book captures the intrigue, drama, and beauty of the groundbreaking BBC TV series: The Green Planet, presented by David Attenborough. In the world of plants, time passes more slowly, but if we speed months into minutes we can peer into this hidden world and realise: it's a battleground. Plants are working to thwart their enemies, and to trick animals into working for them. Right under your feet, and all around you, is a secret world you've probably never noticed.... Discover all there is to love about our astonishing Green Planet, the stories of its inhabitants, and the challenges it faces.

Vikram Baliga
In the ongoing fight against climate change, plastic pollution and diseases, scientists are turning to an unlikely ally - plants! Everyone knows plants are pretty cool. They create oxgyen for us to breathe (fairly essential) and provide us with trees to climb. But it turns out that plants can do a whole lot more than that too! Get ready to be amazed when you find out about the spinach that can detect landmines AND send emails and the glow-in-the-dark plants that might one day light your home.Perfect for anyone who loves nature and wildlife, as well as the scientists of the future - you won't look at plants and trees in the same way again!
Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
 & Sally Agar
In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy bestselling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Alexander von Humboldt, the botanist and adventurer.As a kid, Alexander wasn’t a great student. He had a naturally curious mind, but he saw the world differently to his teachers and fellow pupils, and just couldn’t quite fit in. But when he began collecting plants as an adult, Alexander realised he’d found his passion.From then on, he become a great explorer, travelling the world to document all kinds of plants and species. This inspiring book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the scientist.
Clive Gifford
 & Gosia Herba
Following on from the incredible Invented by Animals and Built by Animals, Powered by Plants introduces us to the wondrous plants whose ingenious features have inspired innovations in human technology.Plants exhibit an incredible range of diversity in their shape, structures and how they interact with other living things and their environment. Some of this great diversity is being increasingly studied and copied, inspiring innovation in science, design, engineering and technology. This book guides readers through a startling collection of fascinating vegetation, from towering cottonwood trees with wind power potential to slippery, meat-eating assassins of the plant world and the fast-growing aquatic plant which helps propel ships farther using less energy. Learn surprising applications and spin-offs of both exotic species including the world’s largest flower that generates its own heat and more familiar plants such as bamboo, coconut and maize, all depicted in colourful, engaging fashion.Colourful and lively illustrations and pop-out fact boxes bring the science in this book to life, and Powered by Plants shows us how much we can learn from studyin the myriad magnificence of the natural world.Other fascinating books in this series are Built by Animals and Invented by Animals.

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