The best picture books for learning fun facts about birds and animals

Susan Ewing Author Of Alaska Is for the Birds! Fourteen Favorite Feathered Friends
By Susan Ewing

Who am I?

Nature has been my grounding force from the time I could climb the elm tree in my Kentucky backyard. Snuggling down in the branches, listening to the leaves and birds was my happy place. Eventually, nature became a defining element in my work. It started with an Information & Education job at the Washington State Wildlife department and expanded from there to influence my career as a writer. I take great joy in writing about the natural world, my most patient teacher and oldest friend.


I wrote...

Alaska Is for the Birds! Fourteen Favorite Feathered Friends

By Susan Ewing, Evon Zerbetz (illustrator),

Book cover of Alaska Is for the Birds! Fourteen Favorite Feathered Friends

What is my book about?

Alaska is for the Birds! began as a spark of bird love shared with my friend, Ketchikan artist Evon Zerbetz. (Our previous two collaborations are Lucky Hares and Itchy Bears and Ten Rowdy Ravens.)

The book features 14 Alaskan birds described in playful poems and illustrated with colorful linocut prints. Along with being a joyful celebration of birds, the book is also a solid learning tool. Supplemental information in the back provides natural history context to the poems, like more about Great Blue Heron’s pectinate claw and Bald Eagle’s kleptoparasitism. Although the book is whimsical, it’s grounded in science—because to know birds is to love birds and to love birds is to want to protect our bird friends into the future. 

The books I picked & why

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The Polar Bear

By Jenni Desmond,

Book cover of The Polar Bear

Why this book?

A little girl takes a book from a shelf and plunges into an imaginary encounter with a beautiful polar bear. Poetically written and gorgeously illustrated, the book teaches us all about polar bears and their lives: Where they live, what they eat, how big their paws are, and about the birth of bear cubs. As the book jacket copy rightly says, the book engages the reader’s interest in amazing facts, while filling them with a deep sense of wonder.


Superlative Birds

By Leslie Bulion, Robert Meganck (illustrator),

Book cover of Superlative Birds

Why this book?

Learn about the biggest, brightest, smelliest, loudest, featheriest birds on a tour with a chatty chickadee. Each page features a short poem about a superlative bird and includes additional background on the bird’s natural history. There’s also a short glossary and a guide to resources on bird watching and conservation notes. The author even explains the rhyming patterns and structure of each poem. Fun and informative!


Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

By Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann (illustrator),

Book cover of Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Why this book?

This poetic tribute to the hardworking honeybee opens with Apis emerging from the wax cap of her cell. She helps clean the nursery and feed the queen until she is ready to fly—when she takes to the sky in a stunning fold-out illustration that puts the reader in a bee’s-eye view. Fleming describes the honeybee’s lifecycle in lyrical and accessible language, while Rohmann’s beautifully detailed illustrations are a visual feast. The book includes an essay on the plight of honeybees. 


A Wild Child's Guide to Endangered Animals

By Millie Marotta,

Book cover of A Wild Child's Guide to Endangered Animals

Why this book?

Illuminating text describes 43 endangered species from around the world. The book is organized by habitat—ocean, forest, mountains, grasslands, arctic tundra—and relates the stories of a wide range of animals, from recycling beetles, to desert fish, to the odd axolotl and wide-ranging wandering albatross. You’ll also find a map detailing where each species lives, and ideas on how you might aid in their conservation.


Hummingbird

By Nicola Davies, Jane Ray (illustrator),

Book cover of Hummingbird

Why this book?

Sometimes stories from the imagination are the best way to convey concepts in all their layered complexity. Concepts like migration. The beautifully illustrated Hummingbird tells the story of a little girl who moves from her grandmother’s village in Central America to New York City, paralleling a ruby-throated hummingbird’s migratory journey. Information about the hummingbird and its migration are woven seamlessly into the book, shining through the lovely story. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in birds, honey bees, and polar bears?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about birds, honey bees, and polar bears.

Birds Explore 117 books about birds
Honey Bees Explore 15 books about honey bees
Polar Bears Explore 15 books about polar bears

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Birdology: Adventures with Hip Hop Parrots, Cantankerous Cassowaries, Crabby Crows, Peripatetic Pigeons, Hens, Hawks, and Hummingbirds, The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal about Being Human, and Snow Birds if you like this list.