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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.

Picturebooks about plants and trees

Emily Haworth-Booth

The Last Tree is an eco-fable for our times, with themes of nature, conserving trees, community and listening to the voices of the young. “Once upon a time, a group of friends were looking for a place to live” – they find a tree, then a forest and make a happy community. However, what begins as building a few cabins and a fire to warm themselves, gradually develops into an insatiable use of all the wood and the construction of a high fence to keep out the wind. Only one last tree remains. The children of each family are told to go and cut it down for their family, quickly, before the neighbours do. But here the children rebel, and we end on an uplifting note of hope for the future, as the fence is dismantled and a new forest planted. Printed on recycled paper and with pictures in soft pencil shading and muted colours, the look of the book suits the important message of the tale. The Last Tree could be useful with all primary age groups, for example in assembly, as the message is accessible to KS1 while leaving room for discussion and debate in KS2.

Jeanette Winter
Graphic Novel

This beautiful and factual picture book about Wangari Maathai is inspiring and full of hope. The devastating impact of deforestation is made starkly clear but it is counterbalanced by the actions taken by first Wangari Maathai and then more and more women until millions of trees had been planted and healing began. Children I have shared this story with have asked probing questions and wanted to find out more: How long did it take the trees to grow? How long before the earth recovered? Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work and classes may enjoy this two-minute video clip where she tells, herself, the story of the tiny hummingbird who does her best to make a difference. This book could also be useful for Black History Month and International Women’s Day.

Lynne Cherry

The Ancient Maya believed that the Kapok tree was sacred. Although this story does not directly mention the Maya, it centres around the fate of a Kapok tree in the Amazon rainforest and for this reason many teachers use this popular text alongside their Maya topic. This is a colourful and engaging picture book that captures the spirit of the rainforest through its beautifully detailed illustrations. It has a simple story line that is accessible to less confident readers but a strong message about deforestation and enough depth to captivate older readers too. Check out the accompanying unit of work from KS2History.

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 aged 7-10, 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.

Timothee de Fombelle
 & Francois Place
Chapter book
This is an award-winning children's novel with a positive message about looking after the natural world. Toby is miniature at just 1.5mm tall and he lives in the Great Oak Tree. Toby and his family find themselves cast out of the Oak Tree society when Toby's father attempts to protect the energy source at the heart of the tree from powerful people who wish to use up natural resources for their own gains, even if doing so will eventually destroy their environment.
Andy Shepherd
 & Sara Ogilvie
Chapter book

The first in a series, this hugely entertaining adventure about a small boy and his pet dragon would make a super read-aloud for lower KS2. 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.

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.

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

An informative celebration of Plants Around the World that bursts with colour, information and appreciation of the natural world. The pages are playfully illustrated as a flying insect pops up frequently to guide the reader through. 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 foodwebs 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 content is varied and reaches well beyond the science curriculum. 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 in a book about plants, such as pollination and seed dispersal. This visually appealing 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.
Anna Claybourne
A quirky, colourful guide to the horrible, shocking and disgusting aspects of the science of life cycles and a fantastic way to inspire children in science learning. Killer Plants investigates all things green and gross, from insect-eating pitcher plants to giant lilies that smell of rotting corpses.

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.

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