The best nonfiction picture books on helping wildlife

Meeg Pincus Author Of Make Way for Animals! A World of Wildlife Crossings
By Meeg Pincus

Who am I?

I’m a lover of wildlife and have written several nonfiction picture books on the topic, including Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery, Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Built a Bridge for City Wildlife, and Ocean Soup: a Recipe for You, Me, and A Cleaner Sea. I’m also a humane educator, which inspires the focus of all my nonfiction picture books on “solutionaries” helping people, animals, and the planet. At heart, my books—which have won Golden Kite Nonfiction and Eureka! Nonfiction Honors and more—aim to inspire compassion, inclusivity, and positive action. 

I wrote...

Make Way for Animals! A World of Wildlife Crossings

By Meeg Pincus, Bao Luu (illustrator),

Book cover of Make Way for Animals! A World of Wildlife Crossings

What is my book about?

Around the world, city highways and country roads have cut through natural spaces. Wild animals are blocked from the resources they need to survive, or they must make dangerous crossings across busy roads to get to them. Fortunately, solving this problem has inspired some creative solutions! 

Take a tour of wildlife crossings across the globe, from grassy badger bridges to underpasses for elephants to pipelines for penguins. Discover how these inventive pathways have saved both animal and human lives and helped preserve ecosystems.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle

Why did I love this book?

A wounded bald eagle getting a new beak made from a 3D printer—what’s not to love?! This is a great story of wildlife rehabilitation and ingenuity that’s sure to suck kids in. And while I’m usually more drawn to illustrated books, the photos in this book bring the reality of this story to life in the way only photos can. It’s such a compelling true tale, which will help kids grow more compassion and curiosity for our feathered friends.

By Deborah Lee Rose, Jane Veltkamp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beauty and the Beak as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awarded the AAAS/SUBARU SB&F PRIZE for EXCELLENCE in SCIENCE BOOKS and 5 other children's book awards!
"Three words. 3D. Printed beak. Oh come on, you aren't impressed? Well, check out the back matter on this book and you will be. It's insane!" ―School Library Journal

Beauty and the Beak is the incredible true story about an injured wild bald eagle who received a pioneering, 3D-printed beak―and made world news! Follow Beauty close up and in photographs, from the moment she uses her baby beak to emerge from her egg, through her hunt when she uses her powerful adult beak to…

Book cover of The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest

Why did I love this book?

I picked this book because it’s a great reminder that plants are wildlife, too—and they’re as important and as endangered as animals! It’s also a truly fascinating story of the woman who figured out how to study the rainforest canopy, a hundred feet in the air! I love how this book tells one woman’s inspiring story while at the same time inspiring kids to care and learn more about the much-needed flora on our planet.

By Heather Lang, Jana Christy (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Leaf Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Burroughs Association Riverby Award
Honorable Mention, Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award

This picture book biography tells the story of Meg Lowman, a groundbreaking female scientist called a "real life Lorax" by National Geographic, who was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head - the colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies - and to be the first scientist…

Book cover of Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist

Why did I love this book?

I love this book as it highlights the story of the groundbreaking Japanese-American woman scientist who broke barriers and made many discoveries about sharks that kids learn as facts today. Eugenie’s story is one of a child fascinated by ocean wildlife who follows her dreams to become a scientist, deep-sea diver, and discoverer. It’s also the story of a misunderstood wild animal that needs some “rebranding”—and this book does the trick!

By Jess Keating, Marta Álvarez Miguéns (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Shark Lady as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of New York Times' Twelve Books for Feminist Boys and Girls!
This is the story of a woman who dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire. This is the story of Shark Lady. One of the best science picture books for children, Shark Lady is a must for both teachers and parents alike!
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
Named a Best Children's Book of 2017 by Parents magazine
Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn't imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But…

Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears

By Jill Robinson, Marc Bekoff, Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen (illustrator)

Book cover of Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears

Why did I love this book?

This emotional story of one real moon bear, written by two top wild animal experts, hits right in the heart. An important story of what happens when wild animals are caged in laboratories, and what it takes to heal them afterward, this book lingers in the mind for a long time. Jasper’s personality makes everyone fall in love with him, and readers will, too. They’ll also feel compelled to protect every hunted creature (I sure did!).

By Jill Robinson, Marc Bekoff, Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jasper's Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For years Jasper, a moon bear, lived a miserable existence, held captive in a cage by bear farmers in rural China. The farmers extracted the bile from Jasper's body and sold it to be used in traditional medicines. It's a horrific practice and conducted on thousands of moon bears each year. But now Jasper has the chance to be free and live a life away from pain and torture. In 2000, Animals Asia, an animal welfare organization, rescued Jasper and other captive moon bears, taking them to its Moon Bear Rescue Centre. Here veterinarians attended to the bears' wounds, hoping…

The Wolves Are Back

By Jean Craighead George, Wendell Minor (illustrator),

Book cover of The Wolves Are Back

Why did I love this book?

This book is a classic and a favorite of mine; I loved reading it to kids as a humane educator and seeing their eyes widen. I still marvel at how this book illustrates so simply and powerfully what happened to the entire ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park when wolves were reintroduced after being eliminated by humans years earlier. It’s a hugely impactful story about how any one species in an ecosystem affects all the others—and kids love it! 

By Jean Craighead George, Wendell Minor (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wolves Are Back as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two renowned children’s book creators teamed up to make this stirring picture book that tells the story of how, over a century, wolves were persecuted in the United States and nearly became extinct. Gradually reintroduced, they are thriving again in the West, much to the benefit of the ecosystem. This book will teach a new generation to appreciate the grace, dignity, and value of wolves as it promotes awareness of the environment’s delicate balance. Paired with gorgeous paintings by landscape artist Wendell Minor, Jean Craighead George’s engaging text will inspire people of all ages to care about the protection of…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in threatened species, Australia, and birds?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about threatened species, Australia, and birds.

Threatened Species Explore 20 books about threatened species
Australia Explore 268 books about Australia
Birds Explore 151 books about birds

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Queen of Physics, Mamie on the Mound, and Finding Winnie if you like this list.