The best children’s books that get readers thinking about a “wow” moment that may spark a lifetime of investigation

Brenda Z. Guiberson Author Of Into the Sea
By Brenda Z. Guiberson

Who am I?

I'm an award-winning, best-selling children’s author who writes about unexpected “wow” moments that stick with me. I look for books and articIes that take me on a deep journey into unknown environments. I aim for nonfiction that reads like a story with an emotional connection to new creatures with fascinating lifestyles. As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research. The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for those struggling to survive on our changing plant.  


I wrote...

Into the Sea

By Brenda Z. Guiberson,

Book cover of Into the Sea

What is my book about?

One day I went snorkeling and had a moment with a magnificent sea turtle. “Wow!” Where did she come from? What did she eat? What dangers did she face? I had so many questions and didn’t stop until I had answers. This led to a book about an endangered sea turtle that hatches on a sandy beach and finds ways to survive in the beautiful but dangerous ocean.  

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

By Claire A. Nivola,

Book cover of Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

Why this book?

This book follows the accomplishments of Sylvia Earle who “lost her heart to the water” as a child. She snorkeled, then learned scuba diving. She kept on, joining an ocean expedition as the only woman among 70 men, lived underwater for 2 weeks, designed a deep sea diving bubble, and more. “Wow!” I love that she stayed so long to learn that each individual fish is different from another, that whales swim like ballerinas, and every spoonful of ocean is full of tiny, and sometimes sparkly, creatures. Most important she learned how vital the ocean is to the health of our planet and better ways to take care of it.        


Me... Jane

By Patrick McDonnell,

Book cover of Me... Jane

Why this book?

This book is about Jane Goodall, famous chimp researcher and United Nations Messenger of Peace. As a child, she shared her backyard “magical world of nature” with her stuffed chimp named Jubilee. The book Tarzan of the Apes expanded her passion into dreams of going to Africa to study animals. “Wow!” She did it, and her stick-to-it observations led to the discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools. As she protects wildlife she also helps people in wild places to get better food, water, and education. Her concerns for all creatures have inspired children around the world to take some action toward a better planet.  


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 book became a “wow” moment for me as it celebrates the life of a honey bee. “Can I fly now?” the bee wants to know. With poetic language and exquisite close-up illustrations, the reader has to wait, just like the bee, who has only 35 days to get through many chores before she can fly off for the final flower and honey mission. Who could ever swat a busy bee after reading this amazing life story? Extra information is provided about the special skills and plight of our important pollinators.  


Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion

By Loree Griffin Burns,

Book cover of Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion

Why this book?

Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer had a “wow” moment when thousands and thousands of Nike sneakers showed up on beaches in Seattle. I thought that was amazing too. Then he heard about rubber duckies, blue plastic turtles, hockey gloves, and lego pieces. This fascinating book reveals his unusual methods to study ocean currents and weather patterns by tracking floating items that fall from ships at sea. Amateur ocean observers help him all over the world and some are focused on dangerous abandoned fishing nets. Are you fascinated? Websites, a newsletter, and other programs are mentioned for those who might be inspired.  


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

By Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet (illustrator),

Book cover of The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Why this book?

Sometimes pencil and paper and a lot of scribbling can reveal a passion. As someone always searching for the right word, I love this book. Young Peter Roget became a word collector when he discovered that words “were powerful things.” With a passion to find the best word, the one that really fits, he made lists. At 8, he wrote his first book, but it was not a story. He wrote lists. Then he wrote more lists. A lifetime of lists. His efforts to create one place where everyone could find just the right word are illustrated scrapbook style in this book that is incredible, stunning, splendid, remarkable, and fun.   


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in honey bees, toys, and explorers?

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

Honey Bees Explore 15 books about honey bees
Toys Explore 20 books about toys
Explorers Explore 67 books about explorers

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Playing with History: American Identities and Children's Consumer Culture, Honeybee Democracy, and The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild if you like this list.