The most recommended books about Monarch butterflies

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to Monarch butterflies, and here are their favorite Monarch butterfly books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of Monarch butterfly book?


Book cover of Flight Behavior

Phil Gilvin Author Of Truth Sister

From Phil's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Climate activist Folkie Family man

Phil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Phil Gilvin Why did Phil love this book?

This is one that’s often recommended in the “best climate fiction” lists, and I can see why. 

Set in a depressed area of Appalachia, the story hinges on the arrival of a huge number of monarch butterflies, whose annual migration pattern has been disrupted, and the effect this has on the local community.

But worked into the main story are some important, closely observed messages: how climate change feels insignificant to people who are struggling to cope, how journalists and others can promote climate change denial, and how scientists need to get angry.

As with other Kingsolver novels like The Poisonwood Bible, the characterisation is closely-observed and highly believable. A rich and rewarding read.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Flight Behavior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The flames now appeared to lift from individual treetops in showers of orange sparks, exploding the way a pine log does in a campfire when it is poked. The sparks spiralled upward in swirls like funnel clouds. Twisters of brightness against grey sky."

On the Appalachian Mountains above her home, a young mother discovers a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature: the monarch butterflies have not migrated south for the winter this year. Is this a miraculous message from God, or a spectacular sign of climate change. Entomology expert, Ovid Byron, certainly believes it is the latter. He ropes in…

Book cover of Amazing Matilda: A Monarch's Tale

Gigi Sedlmayer Author Of Come Fly With Me

From my list on fiction about overcoming challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

After being rejected in school, because I had to move with my family again and again, I never had really friends and knew how being left alone and rejected felt. So I put my nose into books and developed a love for writing. Since I didn’t know what to do with them, I left them alone when I married. After being diagnosed with cancer later in my life, I couldn’t go back to work, I remembered my love to write and read so I started to write short stories again. I want to help young people going through similar rejections and bullying, to lift them up, and take the negativity out of their minds. 

Gigi's book list on fiction about overcoming challenges

Gigi Sedlmayer Why did Gigi love this book?

This is a brilliant tale about a little egg that becomes a caterpillar and transforms into a beautiful Monarch.

I love animal stories, so I would always recommend this story to anyone.

He is asking his friends eating away on juice leaves, the sparrow, the toat, and the rabbit how he could get wings. He wanted desperately to fly.

The answer was: Just have patience and follow your instincts.

Matilda was doing so until she ate so many leaves that she changed once more and fell asleep. Waking up, she was amazed to see that she had wings. But they wouldn’t work, she had to keep flapping them until, finally, she flew off.

Matilda is not only a little butterfly story, it shows you that whatever you are going to do, have patience, follow your dream or instincts, and never give up.

By Bette A. Stevens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Inspire the Kids with an Award-winning (Excellence in Children's Literature) Monarch Butterfly Tale.
In this age of instant gratification, there's an award-winning children's picture book out that teaches kids that patience and hard work really do pay off.

'AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch's Tale' is a timely tale that follows MATILDA, a tiny monarch caterpillar, from the time she hatches from her egg on a giant milkweed leaf until she realizes her dream to fly. The story provides challenges and adventure at every turn.

Grandparents, parents and teachers will find that AMAZING MATILDA is a book that kids will want to…

Book cover of Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution

John N. Thompson Author Of Relentless Evolution

From my list on coevolution and relentless evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am captivated and never cease to be astonished by the seemingly endless variety of ways in which coevolution shapes the millions of species on earth into intricate and ever-changing webs of life. The reasons for my fascination are simple. Most species require other species to survive or reproduce, which means that the evolution of biodiversity is as much about evolution of the links among species as it is about evolution of the species themselves. I find immense joy in following the connections among species within the web of life, trying to understand how coevolution has shaped, and relentlessly reshapes, each link. There are always surprises along the way.

John's book list on coevolution and relentless evolution

John N. Thompson Why did John love this book?

Plants and insects make up most of the species on earth, and they have spent millions of years interacting and coevolving with each other. In this book, Anurag Agrawal weaves together what scientists have learned about one of the most charismatic of these interactions, those between milkweeds and monarch butterflies. He explores why the evolution of these interactions never ceases, but he also shows us just how difficult it can be to sort out how particular species coevolve. The book is a window into why the interactions between plants and insects may be the most diverse interactions that have ever evolved between complex organisms. Agrawal is a leading researcher on the evolution of interactions between plants and insects, and, fortunately, he is also an absorbing writer. 

By Anurag Agrawal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fascinating and complex evolutionary relationship of the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant Monarch butterflies are one of nature's most recognizable creatures, known for their bright colors and epic annual migration from the United States and Canada to Mexico. Yet there is much more to the monarch than its distinctive presence and mythic journeying. In Monarchs and Milkweed, Anurag Agrawal presents a vivid investigation into how the monarch butterfly has evolved closely alongside the milkweed--a toxic plant named for the sticky white substance emitted when its leaves are damaged--and how this inextricable and intimate relationship has been like an…

Book cover of Sarah Rising

Sarah Warren Author Of Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice

From my list on to read when you don’t have the answers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d been a preschool teacher and a children’s author for years before I decided to become a mom. I was pretty sure I’d kill it at motherhood, I mean, I knew all the songs and I had lots of books. I was always up for giving advice to the caregivers at my school, heck, I was the perfect parent before my son was born. I knew everything then. Not anymore. Thank goodness for books. Over the years, my child has asked some tough questions, read on…you’ll see. Do they sound familiar? If so, these books might help you find your footing as you go looking for answers. 

Sarah's book list on to read when you don’t have the answers

Sarah Warren Why did Sarah love this book?

“Mommy, is George Floyd going to be okay?”

My son knows George Floyd is not going to be okay, but he won’t stop asking. I think he’s just wondering if he’s safe…if his neighbors are safe…if the world is going to be okay. I don’t know the answers. I try to cover. I lecture. I complain. I blame. I confuse him. This book did what I never could. It’s about a protest. It’s also about family, love, power, community, and bugs. Sarah’s story engaged my child’s heart and mind so much better than any of my amazing lectures. The world is not okay, but Sarah showed us that we can do something about it, and that makes us feel a little safer.

By Ty Chapman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sarah Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Sarah starts her day like any other day: she eats her toast and feeds her bugs. But today isn't a day like any other day. Today, her dad brings her to a protest to speak out against police violence against Black people. The protesters are loud, and Sarah gets scared. When Sarah spots a beautiful monarch butterfly and follows it through the crowd, she finds herself inside the no-man's land between the line of police and protesters. In the moments that follow, Sarah is confronted with the cruelty of those who are supposed to protect her and learns what it…

Book cover of Butterflies Are Pretty ... Gross!

Jessica Fries-Gaither Author Of Nature's Rule Breakers: Creatures That Don't Fit in

From my list on teaching you something new about animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with the natural world for as long as I can remember, spending many happy hours in my childhood exploring forests, splashing in creeks, and hiking in parks with my family. Devouring books from the local library and participating in workshops at our local science center fed my interest and built a strong foundation in science. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the tension between science’s goal to neatly classify and nature’s riotous complexity. It’s the exceptions, the grey, that keep me interested and draw in my students. I am an experienced science teacher and award-winning author of books for teachers and kids.

Jessica's book list on teaching you something new about animals

Jessica Fries-Gaither Why did Jessica love this book?

When I picture a butterfly, I imagine a delicate, lovely creature gliding across the sky. Not a foul-smelling flying creature that feeds on rotting flesh. But that’s the secret side of our (formerly) favorite insects that we meet through our knowledgeable monarch butterfly narrator.

My students couldn’t get enough of this fascinatingly disgusting book.

By Rosemary Mosco, Jacob Souva (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Butterflies Are Pretty ... Gross! 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?

Warning -- this book contains top-secret information about butterflies! Prepare to be shocked and grossed out by this hilarious and totally true picture book introduction to a fascinating insect.

Butterflies are beautiful and quiet and gentle and sparkly . . . but that's not the whole truth. Butterflies can be GROSS. And one butterfly in particular is here to let everyone know! Talking directly to the reader, a monarch butterfly reveals how its kind is so much more than what we think. Did you know some butterflies enjoy feasting on dead animals, rotten fruit, tears and even poop? Some butterflies…

Book cover of Wildlife Ranger Action Guide: Track, Spot & Provide Healthy Habitat for Creatures Close to Home

Patricia Newman Author Of Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean

From my list on nature to WOW! kids and teens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sibert Honor author and write books for kids and teens about nature. Part biography, part science adventure, my books introduce readers to real scientists and the unexpected twists and turns of their discoveries. The more I research the more I discover hidden connections to our natural world that humble me and fill me with gratitude. I do my best to share these connections with readers in an accurate, truthful way to help them find their own “ah-ha” moments in life. I want them to say, “I can do this, too!”

Patricia's book list on nature to WOW! kids and teens

Patricia Newman Why did Patricia love this book?

This book challenges kids to get outside and observe the wildlife in their own communities—the BEST way to connect to nature. Written as a field guide, this book is meant to be shoved in a backpack and consulted on the trail. Mary Kay Carson shows kids how to record observations in a nature journal and includes many projects with materials found around the house. Before you know it, your kids will be local wildlife experts. When kids understand nature, they care about it, and when they care, they protect it. 

Perfect for ages 6-12.

By Mary Kay Carson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wildlife Ranger Action Guide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kids can make the world better for wild animals, starting right in their own backyards! With hands-on activities, from a Wildlife Spotting Fort to a Sand Print Track Trap, along with habitat projects and wildlife field guides, this book teaches young nature observers how identify which animals live nearby. DIY projects such as making a Frog Pond out of a kiddie pool, planting a pollinator garden for bees, painting a bat house, and building a lodge for lizards help kids create a welcome haven for animal friends. Throughout the book, habitat maps and fun facts profile 84 North American wildlife…

Book cover of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

Kristin Ohlson Author Of Sweet in Tooth and Claw: Stories of Generosity and Cooperation in the Natural World

From my list on interconnection in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small agricultural town in California’s Sacramento Valley, and my parents didn’t even consider worrying if I was bored or lonely when I wasn’t at school. Consequently, I spent hours in a nearby vacant lot riddled with anthills watching the ants hustle back and forth and, occasionally, inserting myself in their lives with handfuls of sugar or sticks to block their paths. Pretty sure this is where my interest in science and nature began—and maybe even my interest in cooperation.

Kristin's book list on interconnection in nature

Kristin Ohlson Why did Kristin love this book?

This book made my heart both soar and ache.

I follow Renkl’s wonderful writing in the New York Times about the nature in her own neighborhood (and occasionally Southern politics), and Late Migrations is a collection of essays in which she ties together the loss of family with the losses of beloved wildlife.

She wrote such a gorgeous last paragraph about living with grief. “And that’s how I learned the world would go on. An irreplaceable life had winked out in an instant, but outside my window the world was flaring up in celebration. Someone was hearing, ‘It’s benign.’ Someone was saying, ‘It’s a boy.’ Someone was throwing out her arms and crying, ‘Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you!’ I tear up every time I read those lines.

By Margaret Renkl,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Late Migrations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a "Best Book of the Year" by New Statesman, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Washington Independent Review of Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

From New York Times contributing opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family-and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world.

Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents-her exuberant, creative mother; her steady,…

Book cover of Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies

Marta Magellan Author Of Python Catchers: Saving the Everglades

From my list on picture books about wildlife.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love for wildlife has produced several award-winning nonfiction books about animals for children (bats, lizards, dragonflies, hummingbirds, and more). To observe wildlife, I travel often to wild areas, such as the Amazon, Galapagos Island, the Pantanal. A former full professor at Miami Dade College, I taught Creative Writing, English Composition, and Survey of Children’s Literature and was an adviser to the college’s award-winning literary magazine. My children’s nonfiction picture books about wild animals have won several awards: Silver Eureka for nonfiction, Silver Nautilus, two Bronze Florida Book Awards, and a Purple Dragonfly honor. Born in Brazil, I have lived in Miami for most of my life.

Marta's book list on picture books about wildlife

Marta Magellan Why did Marta love this book?

This past year, I have been fascinated by butterflies, and especially the monarchs and their utterly magnificent flights of migration. But there are other books about monarch butterflies, so why this one? It is a story, fictitious admittedly, about how a group of children with passion and love for nature and butterflies face a growing problem using grassroots activism. It is based on what children and communities are doing to help butterflies all over the country and on the real issue of the decline of the monarch butterfly. It is sure to inspire the budding environmental activist.

By Deborah Hopkinson, Meilo So (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Butterflies Belong Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Butterflies Belong Here is a powerful story of everyday activism and hope.

In this moving story of community conservation, a girl finds a home in a new place and a way to help other small travelers.

This book is about the real change children can make in conservation and advocacy-in this case, focusing on beautiful monarch butterflies.

* From Deborah Hopkinson and Meilo So, the acclaimed team behind Follow the Moon Home
* An empowering, classroom-ready read
* The protagonist is a girl whose family has recently immigrated to the United States.

I know what to look for: large black-and-orange…

Book cover of Hiders Seekers Finders Keepers: How Animals Adapt in Winter

Robin Currie Author Of Tuktuk: Tundra Tale

From my list on for winter reading.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a children’s librarian and author, I am curious about all kinds of subjects. So, the arctic wilderness which appears to be barren tundra but teems with animal life, unique landforms, and aurora borealis glow intrigued me. Winter Solstice is an excellent theme to use for multicultural study and as an alternative topic for December when the completing holidays seem like overkill. I have been to Alaska to hear glaciers boom as they calf, see endless ice fields, and witness frolicking sea lions.

Robin's book list on for winter reading

Robin Currie Why did Robin love this book?

Kids get more excited than adults about the shift from fall to winter – new boots and coats and mittens before they are lost!

I like to share in the library the way animals prepare for winter, too. Some sleep, some change color, some fly south. The spare lyrical text makes this a good read aloud supporting themes and units for preschool and Kindergarten of winter, snow, and solstice.

In addition circles details on each page explain more about the approach to winter for children to explore later.

By Jessica Kulekjian, Salini Perera (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hiders Seekers Finders Keepers 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?

A poetic and informative exploration of the many ways animals face the challenges of winter.

When the autumn days grow shorter and the temperatures cool, animals prepare for winter. Some, the hiders, choose a place to rest and wait out the winter, hibernating under the ground or snuggling in a sheltered spot. Other creatures are seekers, migrating to new locations where the weather is milder and the food sources more plentiful. And then there are the finders, who keep warm and fed by adapting to the new conditions. Every animal knows just what to do — following an ingenious plan…

Book cover of Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Author Of Weeds Find a Way

From my list on to get kids outside and exploring nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been getting kids out into nature as an environmental education professional for over 30 years, in the garden, in the mountains, at the seashore, and in nearby nature. My life’s work, whether I am writing or teaching, is to help people experience the wonder of the natural world. I believe that children and adults need access to nature to grow and thrive, to find peace in a busy world, and to connect with each other. I know that, just like weeds, we can find a way to navigate the challenges in our lives when we connect with nature’s sustaining goodness wherever we find it.

Cindy's book list on to get kids outside and exploring nature

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Why did Cindy love this book?

Monarch butterflies make a migration of thousands of miles every year, visiting milkweed plants throughout the USA and Canada before migrating south to overwinter in Central Mexico. This lyrical and narrative nonfiction science mystery tells the story of how scientists and ordinary people – citizen scientists – discovered the paths monarchs take in their annual journey. Use this to begin an exploration of how regular folks can help preserve nature by participating in citizen science projects, and to emphasize that there is often more to nature’s mysteries than meets the eye.

By Meeg Pincus, Yas Imamura (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Winged Wonders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

2020 Golden Kite Nonfiction Honor Award
2020 EUREKA Excellence in Nonfiction Honor Award
2020 Finalist AAAS/Subaru Award
2020 Kirkus Best Picture Books
2021 Bank Street Best Children's Books
2020 NCTE Notable Book

For decades, as the monarch butterflies swooped through every year like clockwork, people from Canada to the United States to Mexico wondered, "Where do they go?" In 1976 the world learned the answer: after migrating thousands of miles, the monarchs roost by the millions in an oyamel grove in Central Mexico's mountains. But who solved this mystery? Was it the scientist or the American adventurer? The citizen scientists…