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.
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
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
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.