Nature Books to Love and Share

Time to curl up with a captivating, beautifully illustrated children's book.

Being a parent or kaiako gives you the perfect excuse, not that you need one, to explore the children's books at your local library or add to your personal or classroom collection of pukapuka.

We have gathered a list of our favourite nature-based books for tamariki aged 3 - 12 years old, grouped into categories so you can choose something relevant for you and your ākonga. You'll find a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books, but all of them include wonderful illustrations and messages of respect and connection with nature.

Children's natural love and curiosity for te taiao can be nurtured and strengthened using books and storytelling, such as:

  • Creating daily storytelling rituals, such as reading aloud to the whole class at the start or end of the day.
  • Having a kete of books available while ākonga are playing outside, for when they need a quiet moment.
  • Encouraging older tamariki to write reviews of their favourite books (like these Kiwi Conservation Club members), or write and illustrate their own stories about their favourite places and friends in nature.

Click on the book titles to find out more about each book in the lists below.

Book cover for Whose Home is This

Books for Early Learners

Whose Home is This? by Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson

Song of the River by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Kimberley Andrews

We're Off to Find a Kiwi by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson

The Kauri Family by Suzy Cato and Arthur Baysting, illustrated by Craig Fletcher
(also available in te reo Māori)

Nanny Mihi and the Rainbow by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Tracy Duncan.

Older Children (Ages 7+)

Kōwhai and the Giants by Kate Parker. 2021 NZ Book Awards for Children Winner (Picture Book).

Tree Beings by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Sandra Severgnini

Wildlife of Aotearoa and Atua by Gavin Bishop. Supreme Winner for 2022 NZ Book Awards for Children (Atua, also winner in the Non-Fiction and Illustration categories).

Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep by Victoria Cleal, illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White

Incredible Journeys by Ned Barraud

A Change is Gonna Come by Angela Cushnie, illustrated by Barbara Jaine




Te Reo Māori and Bilingual Books

Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna - Listen to your Ancestors by Darryn Joseph,
illlustrated by Munro Te Whata

I Waho, o te Moana translated by Pānia Papa, from Out in the Moana by Yvonne Morrison,
illustrated by Jenny Cooper. Winner in the 2022 NZ Book Awards for Children (Te Reo Māori).

He Wētā kei runga i tōku Paraka - There's a Wētā on my Sweater by Dawn McMillan,
illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher

Pīpī Kiwi by Helen Taylor, translated by Hēni Jacob

Te Aihe i Waiata - The Singing Dolphin by Mere Whaanga



Nature and Wellbeing


Hare and Ruru
: A Quiet Moment written and illustrated by Laura Shallcrass.
2021 NZ Book Awards for Children Winner (Illustration).

Aroha Knows by Rebekah Lipp, illustrated by Craig Phillips

Moon & Sun by Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Malene Laugesen





International Books

Please note that these links are for the overseas publishers' websites,
but you will find most of these books at your local bookstore or library.

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Slow Down
by Rachel Williams, illustrated by Freya Hartas

With a Little Kelp from our Friends by Mathew Bate, illustrated by Liz Rowland

A Seed is Sleepy by Diana Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long


If you're looking for identification books for Aotearoa plants and animals, or nature activity books, you can search through our Resources section and use the filters to select the most relevant Context or Education Level.

We also recommend reading this wonderful summary from The Sapling, written by Linda Jane Keegan: 
Which New Zealand Nature Guide?

Happy reading and let us know if we've missed your favourite book from our list.

Resources