The most recommended books about ants

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to ants, and here are their favorite ant books.
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What type of ant book?


Book cover of Morris the Mankiest Monster

Claire Freedman Author Of Aliens Love Underpants!

From my list on laugh out loud pictures for 3-5 yr olds.

Who am I?

I've written over 100 picture books for children, and am best known for the Aliens Love Underpants series of books, some of which have been turned into touring theatre shows worldwide, and TV animations. My books are all fiction picture books, aimed at children aged from babyhood to seven years. I write gentle bedtime stories to lull your little ones to sleep, fun and zany laugh-out-loud stories, rhyming books, and encouraging and inspiring tales to make children smile and reach for the sky. I enjoy visiting schools and libraries via Zoom, and love to share my passion for reading and writing, to hopefully encourage the next generation of budding young authors.

Claire's book list on laugh out loud pictures for 3-5 yr olds

Claire Freedman Why did Claire love this book?

Morris is really the most disgusting monster ever, and this book will make every child (and parent!) go “Ewwww!” 

It’s hilariously funny, and despite all of Morris’s horrible bad habits, and reading about what he likes to do - you’ll find that you (almost!) fall in love with him! The illustrations are great and it’s enjoyable looking for the gross and manky details with your child, and pointing them out together. Revolting fun!

By Giles Andreae, Sarah McIntyre (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Morris the Mankiest Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

It's years since he last changed his t-shirt. It's crusty and crawling with ants. His shoes are all slurpy and squelchy inside. And potatoes grow out of his pants. Morris is sweet, charming...and completely disgusting. Kids will absolutely LOVE him.

Book cover of Empire of the Ants

Catherine Austen Author Of All Good Children

From my list on understated siblings.

Who am I?

I’m the youngest of five, and my siblings are what shaped me and my world. Growing up, I never felt alone, except climbing the stairs to bed half an hour before anyone else (such an injustice!). We played cards and games and had noisy discussions throughout my childhood and youth, and we still do. I wouldn’t be me without siblings. It’s the relationship that most fascinates me. There are siblings in all the books I’ve written and probably in all the books I’ll ever write. It’s not a theme I look for when I read, but I recognize the feeling when I encounter it and it feels like home.

Catherine's book list on understated siblings

Catherine Austen Why did Catherine love this book?

There are thousands of siblings in this bookthe offspring of a single queen ant are siblings, aren’t they?and they are most definitely understated. There are humans in the book too, but it’s the ants that interest me, and their sense of relationship to each other. This is one of my favourite novels. It’s beautifully imagined, and so full of fascinating facts that I can never retain them all, so I need to read it again and again. I tried to choose contemporary titles for this list; this is the oldest, from the 1990s, set in the near future, which we’re now living in. 

By Bernard Werber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Here is the stunning international bestseller in the tradition of Watership Down but with a dark, original twist. Unique, daring, and unforgettable, it tells the story of an ordinary family who accidentally threaten the security of a hidden civilization as intelligent as our own--a colony of ants determined to survive at any cost....

Jonathan Wells and his young family have come to the Paris flat at 3, rue des Sybarites through the bequest of his eccentric late uncle Edmond. Inheriting the dusty apartment, the Wells family are left with only one warning: Never go down into the cellar.

But when…

Book cover of The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story

Hollis Kurman Author Of Counting Kindness: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children

From my list on sparking conversations about refugees.

Who am I?

The refugee story is deeply rooted in my family, as my (great-/) grandparents fled Europe for a safer life in America. I grew up listening to their stories of escape and trying to integrate in their new land. Human rights were also a focus of my graduate studies – and later in founding the Human Rights Watch Committee NL and joining the Save the Children Board of Trustees. I am a writer and poet, Board member, and former strategy consultant who always wanted to write refugee stories for children. Their stories are difficult. But children should understand that although the world is not always safe or fair, there is always hope.

Hollis' book list on sparking conversations about refugees

Hollis Kurman Why did Hollis love this book?

This wordless picture book uses gorgeous collage art to soften the frightening story of a wartime escape from Vietnam. The use of ants as a refugee metaphor, and the intertwined wordless stories of ants with a fleeing human family, may make the story a bit complex for very young readers. But the lack of text, in this case, makes it a perfect read-together book and conversation starter. It is a story of hope, courage, and kindness, which are key pillars for refugees to survive and thrive. Separately, we all tend to focus on the biggest, most current, refugee crises (and there are many!). Yet children should also hear refugee stories from around the world and through history. What do these journeys have in common? What makes them unique? What can we learn?

By Thao Lam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Paper Boat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Named a best picture book of 2020 by Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, New York Public Library, the Globe and Mail, CBC, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books ― a heartfelt and personal immigration story by critically acclaimed author Thao Lam

New from Thao Lam, the award-winning author of picture books My Cat Looks Like My Dad, Wallpaper, and Skunk on a String, comes a personal story inspired by her family’s refugee journey.

In The Paper Boat, Thao’s signature collage art tells the wordless story of one family’s escape from Vietnam―a journey intertwined with an ant colony’s…

Book cover of The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today

J. Arvid Ågren Author Of The Gene's-Eye View of Evolution

From my list on selfish genes.

Who am I?

I’m an evolutionary biologist and a Wenner-Gren Fellow at the Evolutionary Biology Centre at Uppsala University, Sweden. My research focuses on the biology of genetic conflicts and what they can tell us about the evolution of conflict and cooperation more generally. I develop population genetic theory and perform comparative analyses to ask how and why such conflicts occur and how they fit into models of social evolution. I also work on the foundations of the so-called gene’s-eye view of evolution, also known as selfish gene theory. I studied at Edinburgh and Toronto and was a postdoc at Cornell and Harvard.

J.'s book list on selfish genes

J. Arvid Ågren Why did J. love this book?

The gene’s-eye view of evolution emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Arguing that biologists are better off thinking about evolution in terms of genes rather than organisms was controversial, but still quickly gained popularity. An important reason for this was that it helped make sense of old, long-standing problems in the field. Two of those were sexual selection (how extravagant traits like the peacocks tail can evolve) and altruism (like the sterile worker ant devoting its life to the queen). In The Ant and the Peacock, Helena Cronin shows how the gene’s-eye view provides a powerful way to solve these puzzles. 

By Helena Cronin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is a success story. It explains two long-running puzzles of the theory of natural selection. How can natural selection favour those, like the ant, that renounce tooth and claw in favour of the public-spirited ways of the commune? How can it explain the peacock's tail, flamboyant and a burden to its bearer; surely selection would act against useless ornamentation? Helena Cronin's enthralling account blends history, science and philosophy in a gripping tale that is scholarly, entertaining and eminently readable. The hardback edition was selected by Nature as one of the best scientific books in 1992. Also the New…

Book cover of The Year of Our War

Stuart Kurth Author Of Blades Lost

From my list on authors who mastered writing fantasy fight scenes.

Who am I?

Without conflict there is no story. It doesn’t always have to be between the forces of good and evil with all of creation hanging in the balance. Nor does it need to entangle complex issues about morality and the human condition. Readers (and writers) can get just as pumped up about Karen from down the street arguing with her neighbour about that damn tree branch hanging over her fence. It just so happens that fantasy conflict, great and small, is my bread and butter. I was born and raised in New Zealand on a diet of anime and video games and I love reading a good honest dust-up. 

Stuart's book list on authors who mastered writing fantasy fight scenes

Stuart Kurth Why did Stuart love this book?

This series is very elegantly written, but that’s not what makes it the most unique on this list. For a start, the protagonist is a skinny womanising drug-addict immortal with enormous wings. Yes, you read that right. He can fly, he drinks coffee, and when he overdoses he trips into a parallel universe. Several, actually. What else inhabits these strange worlds? Giant ants. And it’s these horse-sized monsters that the people of the Fourlands are embroiled in bitter conflict with. They pour through dimensional tears in waves, and the fighting is frenetic, bloody, and gruesome. Swainston has an almost forensic approach to the description of violence in these books, and it adds a dash of realism to an otherwise wildly fantastical setting and premise. A criminally underappreciated series.

By Steph Swainston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Year of Our War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most exciting, original and important new fantasy novel to be published since China Mieville's PERDIDO STREET STATION. A breathtakingly skilful debut.

A superb work of literary fantasy. In a truly original imagined world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal beauty, fifty utterly alien but disarmingly human immortals lead mankind in a centuries-long war.

Jant is the Messenger, one of the Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor. He is the only immortal - indeed the only man alive - who can fly.

The Emperor must protect mankind from the hordes of giant Insects who have plagued the land…

Book cover of Insect Detective

Curtis Manley Author Of The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures

From my list on empathy for the world’s creatures.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in the natural world. I grew up seeing the birds, raccoons, and deer that lived in the woods near my home in Western Pennsylvania. But over the years I began watching smaller things more carefully: tiny creatures with many legs—or no legs at all! I learned that even though earthworms are blind they can sense light. I realized that among “identical” ants, some behaved differently. I found out that if I was gentle, honeybees didn’t mind being petted. Even if we think they’re icky, we owe these tiny creatures our understanding and compassion.

Curtis' book list on empathy for the world’s creatures

Curtis Manley Why did Curtis love this book?

This is a gentle invitation to the world of insects, with tips on how to get to know some common ones and the strange things they do. Well, strange to you! Their lives may be different from ours, but they’re still interesting: wasps chewing wood to make paper, ants stopping to share the news with other ants, moths pretending to be leaves to hide from birds. But not all tiny creatures are insects, so which are and which aren’t are explained also. Every type of creature has its own story; keep your eyes open and you’ll be able to discover those stories and tell them to your friends.

By Steve Voake, Charlotte Voake (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Insect Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Young readers will definitely catch the bug when they see this enticing, fact-filled invitation to explore the world of insects.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Right now, all around us, thousands of insects are doing strange and wonderful things: wasps are building nests, ants are collecting food, and dragonflies are readying for the hunt. But it’s not always easy to catch sight of these six-legged creatures: you have to know where to look. Guided by this book, readers will happily become insect detectives and find out just what those bugs are up to.

Book cover of Bird Boy

Lois Wickstrom Author Of Pulling Together

From my list on pictures about bullying.

Who am I?

I was bullied as a child, both at home and in school. My parents always took my little sister’s side, and punished me. When I got bullied at school, my parents and teachers just told me to work harder on throwing a ball. My escape was books. I found it reassuring that kids in books who got bullied survived and learned and had fun in their lives even if they also had to deal with bullying.

Lois' book list on pictures about bullying

Lois Wickstrom Why did Lois love this book?

Nico is a nature lover. At recess, he doesn’t always want to swing on the swings. Sometimes he wants to sit and watch ants carrying seeds to their anthills.

One day birds come up to him. He enjoys the birds. The other kids call him “bird boy.”  He knows they are teasing him. He knows they are being mean. But he thinks about what the words mean. And he surprises himself by smiling.

After that, he not only watches birds, he pretends to be different birds. A few other children become fascinated by his imagination. They like him for who he is. Birds and all.

By Matthew Burgess, Shahrzad Maydani (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bird Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Take flight in this heartwarming story about a boy who learns to be true to himself at school while following his love of nature.

Nico was new, and nervous about going to school. Everyone knew what to do and where to go, but Nico felt a little lost.

So, he did what he loved to do:
Watched the insects
Sat in the grass
And most importantly... befriended the birds.

Before he knew it, Nico was known as BIRD BOY. But Nico didn't mind. Soon, he made one friend, then two, as the other kids learned to appreciate Nico for who…

Book cover of Snail Crossing

Renee Kurilla Author Of The Flower Garden

From my list on children's books that celebrate the joys of friendship, exploration, and imagination.

Who am I?

Hi there! I am a children’s author, illustrator, and designer living in MA. I spend a lot of time thinking about how important friendship is to me; both the good and bad times, and how I could have handled certain scenarios differently. Books give us the opportunity to act out scenarios without having to live them. Books can teach us mannerisms and coping skills, making us more prepared for life. They also give us an opportunity to take a break from reality and sneak off into other worlds from time to time. Every book on my list highlights the importance of friendship and the thrill of adventure, I hope you enjoy them!  

Renee's book list on children's books that celebrate the joys of friendship, exploration, and imagination

Renee Kurilla Why did Renee love this book?

Snail is cabbage bound! The only thing that stands in his way is a busy highway and the fact that he moves…at a snail’s pace. Through his determination, he finds a way to be helpful to a colony of ants who ultimately find a way to return the favor.

This story has so much subtle humor and makes a great read-aloud. (My 5-year-old daughter cackles when snail tries to make “evasive maneuvers” to avoid a crow.) It teaches how you can be persistent, kind, and brave all while having a good sense of humor. In the end, it pays off for everyone because Snail and the ants have forged a new friendship!

By Corey R. Tabor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Snail Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

In a book that is as cheerful and charming as Snail himself, Corey Tabor tells a winning tale of slow but steady Snail, whose determination and kindness bring him the best reward of all: friendship.

When Snail spies a plump, crisp cabbage across the road, nothing will stop him-not a speeding car or even a hungry crow.

But then kindhearted Snail stops to help a crew of antsy ants in a rainstorm, and he loses his way. It looks like he will never get his treat-until Snail's new friends come up with an ingenious idea. . . .

Book cover of The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies

Jamie A. Davies Author Of Life Unfolding: How the Human Body Creates Itself

From my list on to make you think about biology.

Who am I?

I have long been fascinated by how very complicated things can arise from comparatively simple ones, because it seems counterintuitive that this is even possible. This led me to lead a life in science, researching how a whole human body can come from a simple egg, and trying to apply what we learn to make new body parts for those who need them. Though much of my professional reading consists of detailed research papers, I have always relied on books to make me think and to show me the big picture. I write books myself, to share with others some of the amazing things that science lets us discover. 

Jamie's book list on to make you think about biology

Jamie A. Davies Why did Jamie love this book?

We, who live in one clearly delineated body, think we know what an organism is. Social insects challenge this, making us wonder whether the organism is the ant or the anthill. This book, about how individuals add together to make a new being at a larger scale, is fascinating for biology but also nudges us, as readers, to ask questions about what lives are being led within us, by all the cells that make us, and also whether we are ourselves part of a being so much larger than ourselves we cannot see it for what it is any more than one ant can see the colony for what it is. Reading this made me much more open to the idea of multiple, nested levels of being.

By Bert Hölldobler, Edward O. Wilson, Edward O. Wilson

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Superorganism promises to be one of the most important scientific works published in this decade. Coming eighteen years after the publication of The Ants, this new volume expands our knowledge of the social insects (among them, ants, bees, wasps, and termites) and is based on remarkable research conducted mostly within the last two decades. These superorganisms-a tightly knit colony of individuals, formed by altruistic cooperation, complex communication, and division of labor-represent one of the basic stages of biological organization, midway between the organism and the entire species. The study of the superorganism, as the authors demonstrate, has led to…

Book cover of Ants: Workers of the World

Susanne Foitzik Author Of Empire of Ants: The Hidden Worlds and Extraordinary Lives of Earth's Tiny Conquerors

From my list on the evolution of insect and human societies.

Who am I?

I am a scientist studying the evolution of insect communities for years. I am fascinated by their high degree of cooperation and how these animals make collective decisions. But I also observe social parasitic ants that raid other colonies and make their workers work for them. This tension between altruistic cooperation on the one hand and violence and war, on the other hand, is common to human and insect societies, even if they evolved in completely different ways. I hope that when you read the books I recommend here, you will be as fascinated as I am by these parallel universes and perhaps next time you will see an ant with different eyes. 

Susanne's book list on the evolution of insect and human societies

Susanne Foitzik Why did Susanne love this book?

I'm an ant researcher, so perhaps it's not surprising that I'm recommending an ant book. But this book is less about the short essays, which do a great job of describing the biology of these social animals, and more about the photos. Most people overlook ants because they are so tiny, but when you enlarge them, as in this book, they show their real beauty. When I received my copy, I was amazed and I have seen many ants up close. But the sheer variety of morphological structures, faces, and yes, even colors. Not all ants are black or red, there are even ants that shimmer in all the colors of the rainbow.

We notice mostly ant workers, but in this book also the males are represented, and they often look out-worldly, so not at all like we imagine ants. A book that shows the aesthetics of these social animals…

By Eleanor Spicer Rice, Eduard Florin Niga (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nature's most successful insects captured in remarkable macrophotography

In Ants, photographer Eduard Florin Niga brings us incredibly close to the most numerous animals on Earth, whose ability to organize colonies, communicate among themselves, and solve complex problems has made them an object of endless fascination. Among the more than 30 species photographed by Niga are leafcutters that grow fungus for food, trap-jaw ants with fearsome mandibles, bullet ants with potent stingers, warriors, drivers, gliders, harvesters, and the pavement ants that are always underfoot. Among his most memorable images are portraits-including queens, workers, soldiers, and rarely seen males-that bring the reader…