The best books about wetlands

Many authors have picked their favorite books about wetlands and why they recommend each book.

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Nightlights

By Lorena Alvarez,

Book cover of Nightlights

This story plays more on our own insecurities and how that can take on a form of its own that torments us. Young people don’t always have the experience to put to words the things they’re feeling but not knowing if we’re good enough and the anxiety that stems from that is very relatable and universal. Lorena Alvarez does an incredible job of telling a story that weaves that in while presenting stunning, jaw-dropping art to her audience.

Nightlights

By Lorena Alvarez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every night, tiny stars appear out of the darkness in Sandy's bedroom.
Sandy catches them and creates wonderful creatures to play with until she falls asleep, and in the morning brings them back to life in the whimsical drawings that cover her room. One day, a mysterious pale girl called Morfie appears at school and is fascinated by Sandy's drawings in a way that no one else has been before. But there is a price to pay for this new friendship...

Who am I?

As a kid, I was obsessed with the fantastical, especially when it came to books. I was constantly trying to find my own door to Narnia to go off on an incredible adventure. While I never found a door that led to another world, I found that books offered me a similar experience…and all from the comfort of my fave places to read. Magic is still something I’m enthralled with and love exploring in books I read as well as the ones I write. And these are some of my favorite magical graphic novels.


I wrote...

Paranorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse

By Stephanie Cooke,

Book cover of Paranorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse

What is my book about?

It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making, and playing board games with her best friends—a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl, and a ghost. But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?

Water Always Wins

By Erica Gies,

Book cover of Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge

This is a book I would love to have researched and written myself. Gies moves beyond my own book’s story of constructed wetland projects to report on the many other ways people are restoring the natural functions of water: breaking dams, busting apart concretized stream channels. Allowing water to run slow through wetlands and the twisty course of restored natural channels can revive fish and wildlife populations, reduce pollution and flooding, and help sustain people. From the marshes of Iraq to the ancient irrigation channels of Peru, this book will change the way you understand water.

Water Always Wins

By Erica Gies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A hopeful journey around the world and across time, illuminating better ways to live with water. 

Nearly every human endeavor on the planet was conceived and constructed with a relatively stable climate in mind. But as new climate disasters remind us every day, our world is not stable—and it is changing in ways that expose the deep dysfunction of our relationship with water. Increasingly severe and frequent floods and droughts inevitably spur calls for higher levees, bigger drains, and longer aqueducts. But as we grapple with extreme weather, a hard truth is emerging: our development, including concrete infrastructure designed to…

Who am I?

I fell in love with the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary thirty years ago, when I first moved to town. At the time, I was working as a field biologist, and I loved to hang out at the marsh and birdwatch—I’d see everything from pelicans to peregrine falcons. Later I shifted from field biology to science writing, and some of my first articles were about how the Arcata Marsh serves both as a wildlife habitat and a means of treating the city’s sewage. I learned about the grassroots movement that created the marsh, and the global history of wetlands loss. I’ve been hooked on wetlands ever since.


I wrote...

The Marsh Builders: The Fight for Clean Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

By Sharon Levy,

Book cover of The Marsh Builders: The Fight for Clean Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

What is my book about?

The majority of the original wetlands in the US have vanished, transformed into farm fields, or buried under city streets. The Marsh Builders delves into the intertwined histories of wetlands loss and water pollution. 

The book’s springboard is the tale of a citizen uprising in Humboldt County, California, which led to the creation of one of the first US wetlands designed to treat city sewage. The book explores the global roots of this local story: the cholera epidemics that plagued 19th-century Europe; the researchers who invented modern sewage treatment after bumbling across the insight that microbes break down contaminants in water; the discovery that wetlands act as powerful filters for the pollution unleashed by modern humanity.

Beavers

By Gail Gibbons,

Book cover of Beavers

In a Magic-School-Bus sort of way, Gail Gibbons presents a ton of information in this book about beavers and their families. The main storyline text is supplemented by multiple “factoid” insets and side-view illustrations. The sum total is a book that matches this mammal’s personality—busy and fascinating!  We see beavers and their world, above and below the waterline of the ponds they inhabit and the streams they dam up to create them. I learned exactly how a beaver den is constructed, and what the cozy inside of one looks like (thanks to a great cross-section illustration).

Beavers

By Gail Gibbons,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beavers are fascinating animals. They build their own homes and live in family groups. They keep busy with their sharp teeth, powerful tails, and big webbed feet. Their work helps to preserve wetlands. Gibbons explores where they live, what they eat, how they raise their young, and much more.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning children’s author who has always been fascinated by the natural world. My many published children’s books include ones about animals and ocean life. Scholastic Book Clubs and the Children’s Book of the Month Club have featured my work, and translations of my fiction and nonfiction titles can be found in several languages, including Spanish, Japanese, and Hebrew. My National Geographic title Ocean Counting was named an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association and Walrus Song has been named a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.


I wrote...

Walrus Song

By Janet Lawler, Timothy Basil Ering (illustrator),

Book cover of Walrus Song

What is my book about?

Walrus Song is a lyrical nonfiction picture book about a unique arctic mammal. Dive right in with noisy Walrus as he plays with puffins, lounges on ice, devours clams, and makes lots of noise! Honk, honkkkk! HOOO, HOOOOT! Squee! Squee, SQWEEE! Toot, TOOT! 

Did you know that a walrus can eat more than four thousand clams in a feeding frenzy? That some walruses weigh more than a car? That walrus tusks sometimes grow more than 3 feet long? Timothy Basil Ering’s stunning art takes you right into Walrus’s arctic world to learn more in Walrus Song.

Nature Obscura

By Kelly Brenner,

Book cover of Nature Obscura: A City's Hidden Natural World

From microscopic tardigrades in the moss on her roof to a cacophony of crows in an Ikea parking lot, Brenner finds teeming nonhuman life in the most overlooked urban spaces of her Seattle hometown. Her pocket-sized safaris combine personal discovery and well-researched investigations into history, science, and policy. Most importantly, by shifting our vision to see all the non-human life that is already here, Brenner gives her readers an accessible, everyday antidote to the supposed “nature deficit” of cities.

Nature Obscura

By Kelly Brenner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2021 PNBA Book Awards finalist
2021 Washington State Book Awards finalist
With wonder and a sense of humor, Nature Obscura author Kelly Brenner aims to help us rediscover our connection to the natural world that is just outside our front door--we just need to know where to look.

Through explorations of a rich and varied urban landscape, Brenner reveals the complex micro-habitats and surprising nature found in the middle of a city. In her hometown of Seattle, which has plowed down hills, cut through the land to connect fresh- and saltwater, and paved over much of the rest, she exposes…

Who am I?

I have always been both a nature lover and committed urbanite, and those twin passions have shaped my approach to history. My very first published writing (when I was ten years old) was an essay about a willow tree in an urban park I loved in Minneapolis, MN. Now, as a historian, I have written about guerrilla gardening in the shadow of the Berlin wall, forestry outside Detroit, and working-class foraging practices in the nineteenth century. My interest in urban nature remains not just academic, but personal. On weekends, you’ll find me mapping native and invasive species with my ten-year-old son along the River Rouge in Dearborn, MI.


I wrote...

Germany’s Urban Frontiers: Nature and History on the Edge of the Nineteenth-Century City

By Kristin Poling,

Book cover of Germany’s Urban Frontiers: Nature and History on the Edge of the Nineteenth-Century City

What is my book about?

In an era of transatlantic migration, Germans were fascinated by the myth of the frontier. Yet, for many, they were most likely to encounter frontier landscapes of new settlement and the taming of nature not in far-flung landscapes abroad, but on the edges of Germany’s many growing cities. From gardens, forests, marshes, and wastelands, Germans on the edge of the city confronted not only questions of planning and control, but also their own histories and futures as a community.

Germany’s Urban Frontiers tells their story, examining how nineteenth-century notions of progress, community, and nature shaped the changing spaces of German urban peripheries as the walls and boundaries that had so long defined central European cities disappeared.

Eager

By Ben Goldfarb,

Book cover of Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter

Long before I learned anything about their ecology, I was fascinated by beavers and their flair for building. Beaver dams change the courses of streams and create habitat for willows, fish, frogs, songbirds, even elk and wolves. Goldfarb’s book tells the story of the beavers’ destruction by fur hunters, the way their loss changed the way water flowed through all of North America, and the ways people are working to bring them back.

Eager

By Ben Goldfarb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER of the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

Washington Post "50 Notable Works of Nonfiction"

Science News "Favorite Science Books of 2018"

Booklist "Top Ten Science/Technology Book of 2018"

"A marvelously humor-laced page-turner about the science of semi-aquatic rodents.... A masterpiece of a treatise on the natural world."-The Washington Post

In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America's lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were…


Who am I?

I fell in love with the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary thirty years ago, when I first moved to town. At the time, I was working as a field biologist, and I loved to hang out at the marsh and birdwatch—I’d see everything from pelicans to peregrine falcons. Later I shifted from field biology to science writing, and some of my first articles were about how the Arcata Marsh serves both as a wildlife habitat and a means of treating the city’s sewage. I learned about the grassroots movement that created the marsh, and the global history of wetlands loss. I’ve been hooked on wetlands ever since.


I wrote...

The Marsh Builders: The Fight for Clean Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

By Sharon Levy,

Book cover of The Marsh Builders: The Fight for Clean Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

What is my book about?

The majority of the original wetlands in the US have vanished, transformed into farm fields, or buried under city streets. The Marsh Builders delves into the intertwined histories of wetlands loss and water pollution. 

The book’s springboard is the tale of a citizen uprising in Humboldt County, California, which led to the creation of one of the first US wetlands designed to treat city sewage. The book explores the global roots of this local story: the cholera epidemics that plagued 19th-century Europe; the researchers who invented modern sewage treatment after bumbling across the insight that microbes break down contaminants in water; the discovery that wetlands act as powerful filters for the pollution unleashed by modern humanity.

Bookshelves related to wetlands