Growing Reader


10 Books to Inspire Kids to Love Trees

by Lindsay Barrett

Background credit: lewiena_design/Shutterstock

When we moved from an urban bungalow with a postage-stamp-sized yard to a six-acre property, we didn’t know much about coexisting with local wildlife or caring for an expansive landscape. Fast forward three years, and we’ve learned how to keep the groundhogs from eating our vegetable seedlings (cayenne pepper), and befriended a lovely, 77-year-old arborist who’s taught us how and when to prune our various trees. One benefit of learning as we go is that our kids have learned alongside us to appreciate the wonder of our trees — and obviously, their climbing and fort construction possibilities — in each season. You don’t need a yard teeming with trees to learn to love them, though. These lush picture books have plenty of reverence to share:

  • Trees

    by Lemniscates

    The text is as quiet, yet powerful, as the trees it celebrates, while the mixed media illustrations are bold and unique. This title is equally appropriate for artful display, shared contemplation and conversation about the content, and sparking ideas for tree-themed art projects.
    (Ages 2 - 5)

  • Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book

    by Britta Teckentrup

    Rhyming text and a wide-eyed owl peering out of its hole take readers through each season of an apple tree’s annual transformation. The bright illustrations and additional peek-through glimpses at seasonal wildlife capture the magic of trees all year round.
    (Ages 3 - 7)

  • Call Me Tree/Llámame Árbol

    by Maya Christina Gonzalez

    With its cheerful, swirling artwork and lyrical bilingual text, this story is a colorful celebration of possibilities for both trees and children. The illustrations depict children in various yoga-inspired poses alongside different varieties of trees, inviting young readers not just to read about trees, but to be them, too!
    (Ages 3 - 7)

  • The Forever Tree

    by Tereasa Surratt and Donna Lukas, illustrated by Nicola Slater

    There’s so much to enjoy about this book, from the quirky animals who love their tree for “weddings and bingo championships,” to the sweet grandfather who hangs a swing for his granddaughter, to the way a community rallies to preserve an ailing tree in a unique way. The touching story, inspired by a real tree, lives up to its title by demonstrating why trees are worthy of enduring love.
    (Ages 3 - 7)

  • Kate, Who Tamed the Wind

    by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Lee White

    Kate is the kind of girl who doesn’t shy away from a problem. When a relentless wind torments a neighbor living “in a creaky house at the tip-top of a steep hill,” she knows just the solution. The image of her dragging saplings up the hill in her wagon is touching, as is the friendship that grows alongside the trees she plants. Enjoy this story to broaden children’s perspectives on the positive effects of trees on our planet.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

  • The Lumberjack’s Beard

    by Duncan Beedie

    A lumberjack is an unlikely protagonist for a story heralding trees, but in this case, an effective one. He initially invites the indignant animals he’s displaced to live in his beard. Random, but chuckle-worthy. When this turns out, not surprisingly, to be a less-than-ideal solution, he wises up and replaces his felled trees with new plantings. This story is a fresh twist on the theme of environmental stewardship.
    (Ages 5 - 8)

  • The Things That I LOVE About TREES

    by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Charlotte Voake

    This book shares many key concepts and interesting details about trees and animals in the context of seasonal changes — but in such a beautiful way that readers can’t help but be swept up in the “LOVE.” The back matter is the perfect finishing touch, listing ways for children to enjoy trees like building a hideout or making pictures with leaves and sticks.
    (Ages 5 - 8)

  • The Tree Lady

    by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

    Have you ever wondered what your favorite park or tree-lined street would look like if someone hadn’t planted those trees years ago? Kate Sessions was to trees in San Diego as Miss Rumphius was to lupines along the coast of Maine. This engaging and beautifully illustrated biography tells how she transformed the dry, dusty California city into one filled with verdant, shade-offering foliage at the turn of the 20th century.
    (Ages 5 - 10)

  • The Lorax

    by Dr. Seuss

    There may not be another tree-themed story with so many key concepts wrapped into one volume. There’s the contrast between the glorious Truffula Tree forest and the empty, depressing wasteland left behind after the Once-ler’s deforestation to remind us that trees are beautiful. There’s the resulting stress on the local wildlife, as well as the negative effects of factory pollution to remind us of the interconnectedness of an ecosystem. And of course, there’s the call to action with the Once-ler’s final words that changing a landscape begins with planting just one seed. There’s no doubt, this title is as relevant today as when it was published in 1971.
    (Ages 6 - 9)

  • Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Trees

    by Patricia Daniels

    Expressive arboreal odes are lovely, but some budding tree-lovers just want the hard facts. This field guide is for them. It weaves standard information about various species’ appearances, locations, and growth habits with engaging lore, quirky features, and uses. Bottom-line tips for “10 second spotting,” and insider “Don’t Be Fooled” and “Danger!” warnings round out the page spreads, making this a title for poring over or tucking into a backpack.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

What books do you suggest for cultivating children’s interest in trees? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below!