The Natural World All Around Us | Natural Science Series Nonfiction

These series take on big picture understanding and the narrower scope of singular existence for children who have a future ahead tied to the ongoing climate crisis.


Taking a deep, serene breath of petrichor after a light rain is one way to absorb the beauty of the world that we live in. Another is to consider the complex habitats and ecosystems that our cities are camped on as they cover Earth. Older readers can appreciate the wilderness around them by getting to know the minutiae of the plants and animals from our everyday lives. Meanwhile, younger readers have their eyes on the wider lens of the natural world through its biomes and broader discussions of where and how organisms live. These series take on the tasks of both big picture understanding and exploring the narrower scope of singular existence to children who have a future ahead tied to the ongoing climate crisis.



Dickmann, Nancy. The African Savannah. ISBN 9781781217405.
––––. A Coral Reef. ISBN 9781781217412.
––––. A Desert. ISBN 9781781217429.
––––. The Polar Regions. ISBN 9781781217436.
––––. A Temperate Forest. ISBN 9781781217443.
––––. A Tropical Rainforest. ISBN 9781781217450.
ea vol: 24p. (Fast Track: A Day In). Brown Bear Bks. Jan. 2022. Tr $31.35.
Gr 2-4 –A new direction and update to information students see in biome books, these titles narrow their focus to the interrelationships of species in a given environment. Through full color photographs of the animals in their natural habitats, readers can visualize the trends of similar global ecosystems, like the many deserts around the world. This new direction for environmental discussion allows readers to look at the ecosystems in their backyards and ones related to them in far-away places. VERDICT A fresh take that would be a welcome addition to any life science class and especially elementary classrooms exploring the biosphere.

Golkar, Golriz. Earthquakes. ISBN 9781663977021.
––––. Hurricanes. ISBN 9781663977007.
Jaycox, Jaclyn. Droughts. ISBN 9781663977038.
––––. Tornadoes. ISBN 9781663976994.
––––. Wildfires. ISBN 9781663976963.
Kerry, Isaac. Tsunamis. ISBN 9781663976987.
––––. Volcanic Eruptions. ISBN 9781663976970.
Werner, Rachel. Floods. ISBN 9781663977014.
ea vol: 32p. (Wild Earth Science). Capstone/Pebble. Jan. 2022. Tr $29.32.
Gr 2-3 –For readers curious about the past and present of natural disasters, this is a series that looks at the intricacies of different types of wild events. These titles serve as excellent introductions to the current climate crisis, extreme weather, and disaster preparedness. Of course, there is neat information on things like how hurricanes are named and the different types of tornadoes there are, but the lived perspective is incredibly valuable. Readers have the opportunity to look back to Pompeii and Katrina as well as to present conditions like wildfires on the North American west coast. VERDICT Libraries will find these titles are very relevant with applications in the classroom as well as at home.

Kim, Carol. Dangerous Earthquakes. ISBN 9781728441429.
––––. Dangerous Floods. ISBN 9781728441450.
Schaefer, Lola. Dangerous Blizzards. ISBN 9781728441436.
––––. Dangerous Droughts. ISBN 9781728441467.
––––. Dangerous Hurricanes. ISBN 9781728441405.
––––. Dangerous Tornadoes. ISBN 9781728441399.
––––. Dangerous Volcanoes. ISBN 9781728441443.
––––. Dangerous Wildfires. ISBN 9781728441412.
ea vol: 24p. (Lightning Bolt Books — Earth in Danger). Lerner. Jan. 2022. Tr $27.99.
K-Gr 2 –Extreme weather can be scary and fascinating to young readers. From blistering wildfires to icy blizzards, one can learn about the causes, effects, and day-to-day life of people living through them. The Hurricane and Blizzard titles both address headline-hitting issues in a way that makes sense to younger audiences. With our growing climate crisis disrupting regular weather patterns and children experiencing more extreme weather and natural disasters themselves, these are necessary for answering the tough questions of emerging readers. VERDICT These titles are indispensable for public and school libraries, both for the generally curious and those working on school projects.

Latchana Kenney, Karen. Coral Reefs. ISBN 9781644876039.
––––. Forests. ISBN 9781644876046.
––––. Lakes. ISBN 9781644876060.
Sabelko, Rebecca. Glaciers. ISBN 9781644876053.
––––. Mountains. ISBN 9781644876077.
––––. Wetlands. ISBN 9781644876084.
ea vol: 24p. (Our Planet Earth). Bellweather/Blastoff! Readers. Jan. 2022. Tr $26.95.
Gr 2-4 –Stepping into habitats outside the specific structures of the main biomes, readers can find familiar worlds like ­forests discussed in new ways. The simple paragraphs paired with brightly colored ­backgrounds and color photographs will appeal to younger readers building their science literacy skills through the rich topical vocabulary. Climate change and global warming are addressed here in a relevant, focused way that is also age-appropriate without overloading young readers. Fans of similar series like “Biomes Alive” will love the new domains expanded upon like glaciers and wetlands. VERDICT Public and school libraries will find these titles to be good additions to the ecology and ­environmental science sections of their STEM collections.

O’Daly, Anne. Biomes. ISBN 9781781217580.
––––. Mountains. ISBN 9781781217597.
––––. Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes. ISBN 9781781217603.
––––. Using Maps. ISBN 9781781217610.
––––. Volcanoes and Earthquakes. ISBN 9781781217627.
––––. Weather and Seasons. ISBN 9781781217634.
ea vol: 24p. (Earth Detectives). Brown Bear Bks. Jan. 2022. Tr $31.35.
Gr 1-3 –Each title starts with a main idea question and burrows downward to explore that topic like an investigator on a case digging for facts. Mixed media is used very effectively here as readers see maps, photographs, and various diagrams that visually survey their subject. There are neat pop-up facts included to give small breaks in the text and whet the interest of readers as they go along. Generally, the theme across these titles is learning about the natural world through different formations of the Earth, interactions with the world around us, and occurrences like natural disasters. VERDICT This is a fine series for elementary-aged ­students who are excited by nature and looking to discover new areas of interest.

Sazaklis, John. My Life as a Dandelion. illus. by Duc Nguyen. ISBN 9781663984869.
––––. My Life as a Great White Shark. illus. by Bonnie Pang. ISBN 9781663984852.
––––. My Life as an Emperor Penguin. illus. by Duc Nguyen. ISBN 9781663984845.
––––. My Life as an Oak Tree. illus. by Bonnie Pang. ISBN 9781663984838.
ea vol: 32p. (My Life Cycle). Capstone/Picture Window. Jan. 2022. Tr $23.99.
Gr 1-2 –Beautifully expressive illustrations display the life cycles of featured organisms from seed or birth into adulthood and continuing life. Each title works to bridge emerging readers through a mix of picture book art styles and richer sentence structures found in early chapter books. Readers step into each life to see how the subject is born, eats, and grows over time with a stylized titular host leading the way. The peeks inside acorns and eggs as they grow are fascinating. VERDICT Elementary aged students will delight in the familiar style and amusing characters, while educators will enjoy the ease with which these titles introduce the building blocks of life.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Debbink, Andrea. Flowers and Plants. ISBN 9781532196959.
Hulick, Kathryn. The Night Sky. ISBN 9781532196980.
Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Fossils, Rocks, and Minerals. ISBN 9781532196966.
Mooney, Carla. Insects and Arachnids. ISBN 9781532196973.
ea vol: 112p. (Field Guides for Kids Set 2). Abdo/Reference. Jan. 2022. Tr $39.93.
Gr 5-8 –Nature lovers will rejoice with these trimmed down, visual field guides. As one expects, there are scientific as well as common names featured in each, but there are also more candid images that match a real-life visual experience. Helpful tips are alongside background information about different species for easy identification. The series includes household and common uses for the plants, which makes these books feel topical yet not heavy with subject matter as some field guides for older teens can be. VERDICT This is a delightful match that pairs applied science through experiences and classroom knowledge in a way that will bring joy to middle school students.

Cooke, Joanna K. Energy from Wind. ISBN 9781637390610.
Kehoe, Rachel. Nuclear Energy. ISBN 9781637390627.
MacCarald, Clara. Energy from Algae. ISBN 9781637390573.
––––. Energy from the Sun. ISBN 9781637390597.
Mihaly, Christy. Energy from Water. ISBN 9781637390603.
Wroble, Susan. Energy from the Earth. ISBN 9781637390580.
ea vol: 32p. (Energy for the Future). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2022. Tr $28.50.
Gr 3-5 –The future is looking toward green, renewable energy. Introducing readers to some familiar and some newer ideas, these titles embrace a diverse approach to the future of energy production. Readers can see what an algae farm and geothermal energy in practice look like with full color photographs of each energy source included. Perhaps the best aspect conveyed here is the balanced honesty about each source’s benefits and drawbacks that allow readers to make up their own minds about each one’s potential. VERDICT Libraries expanding their engineering and climate science collections with a look to the future will find these quite useful.

Cornish, Michelle. Lithosphere. ISBN 9781510553453.
Gregory, Joy. Atmosphere. ISBN 9781510553477.
––––. Biosphere. ISBN 9781510553491.
Smith, Ryan. Hydrosphere. ISBN 9781510553439.
ea vol: 32p. (Earth’s Systems). Lightbox. Jul. 2021. Tr $22.99.
Gr 3-5 –Dividing the systems of the planet into quarters, the spheres address the different physical areas on Earth from the higher air to the deep oceans. Climate change is an important subject woven throughout each book, especially as it relates to human activities and impacts. The titles converge on the connection between each section of the system such as between atmosphere and hydrosphere. Complex problems as they relate to the environment are introduced in a way that respects the intelligence of middle grade readers. VERDICT Educators will find value in the activities and review quizzes in the back of each book as extension activities.

Getting outside after some time spent in a virtual environment is the best thing that a series of books can cause as it aims to foster the love of the natural world for the next generation. “Field Guides for Kids Set 2” (Abdo/Abdo Reference) does that by encouraging tweens to look at the world around them, from rocks and plants to spiders and the great unknowns of space. A fun window to the outdoors while staying in is “Fast Track: A Day In” (Brown Bear Bks.), which drops readers into both the fast-paced life of coral reefs and slower-paced serenity of forests through vibrant photographs of the real ecosystems across the globe. Readers can explore their backyards or visit the ­relaxing shade of temperate forests with these ­exciting visual escapes.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing