Books About the Rainforest

The rainforest is a fascinating ecosystem with plants and creatures you won't find anywhere else on earth. Read through the books on this list to give your children a glimpse of this very special place. They'll see leaf-cutter ants, pink river dolphins, butterflies, and dozens of other exciting animals. Plus, they'll learn about a few scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying the rainforest and the animals who live there.

Over and Under the Rainforest Kate Messner

From the leaves on the forest floor to the leaves on the trees in the canopy, the rainforest is full of life. This book features several unique creatures that may be new to children: basilisks, blue morpho butterflies, and others. The mixed-media illustrations make this rainforest adventure even more enticing. This one is a great pick for 4-8 year olds.

The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest Heather Lang

Meet Margaret Lowman, a female scientist who has dedicated her life to studying the rainforest. In this book, kids will learn about Margaret's dedication, courage, and imagination. The illustrations beautifully add to the story with cool greens and blues. It's an inspirational book, best for preschool and early elementary children.

National Geographic Kids: Little Kids First Big Book of the Rainforest Moira Rose Donohue

Little ones can pore over more than 100 pages of information about the rainforest in this non-fiction book from National Geographic. They'll learn about snakes, frogs, jaguars, butterflies, and many other interesting creatures. The animals are classified according to which layer of the rainforest they call home. The text is shown in short snippets, so confident readers can take on this book on their own and younger children will love to page through it with an adult.

The Umbrella Jan Brett

Carlos heads into the rainforest with his leaf umbrella. At the base of a giant fig tree, he decides he'd like to climb up to get a better view. He drops his leaf umbrella on the ground and climbs, but while he's gone, many animals will stop by and stay awhile in his umbrella. Each page features stunning watercolor-and-gouache illustrations. This book provides a really fun look into the rainforest for preschoolers.

Jungle Sounds Usborne Books

Transport children to the jungle with this interactive book. Each page includes a button that plays an authentic sound from the rainforest. Kids will hear birds, tigers, frogs, elephants, and a thunderstorm. There are vibrant illustrations and cut-out details throughout the book. This one is a kid-favorite! Read it with toddlers and young preschoolers.

The Mixed-Up Chameleon Eric Carle

A small green chameleon is bored with his life, so he wishes to be like other animals: smart like a fox, handsome life a flamingo, fast like a deer. But, when all of these changes happen, he isn't so happy after all! The moral of the story, “just be yourself,” is sure to be a hit with toddlers and young preschoolers. Plus, the classic art of Eric Carle gives his book one-of-a-kind illustrations.

Who Is the Beast? Keith Baker

A friendly tiger makes his way through the rainforest and unknowingly scares the creatures around him. When the tiger points out the similarities between himself and the other animals, he doesn't seem like such a scary beast after all. This book is a nice introduction to rainforest animals, but can also be used as a jumping-off point for a conversation about similarities and differences in people. Read it with preschoolers and early elementary students.

Secrets of the Rainforest Carron Brown

This shine-a-light book features hidden rainforest plants and creatures on every page. Children simply hold the book up to a light or shine a flashlight behind each page to reveal what's hidden. They'll learn about the rainforest's trees, vines, flowers, insects, primates, and more. It's an engaging book that kids will love to bring out at bedtime! Read it with your preschool and early elementary kids.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme Marianne Berkes

Set to the tune of “Over in the Meadow,” this rainforest counting book will have kids hooting, squawking, creeping, and pouncing! Ten types of rainforest creatures are included. The final pages include an informational paragraph about each one. Plus, all of the stunning artwork in the book was created with polymer clay. Enjoy this book alongside toddlers and preschoolers.

More or Less: A Rainforest Counting Book Rebecca Fjelland Davis

With this book, kids can marvel at close-up photographs of rainforest animals and learn about beginning math concepts at the same time. It's a non-intimidating way for little ones to learn about counting, addition, subtraction, and comparing numbers. Read it with preschoolers and kindergartners.

Pop-Up Jungle Ingela P. Arrhenius

This small pop-up book includes a leopard, gorilla, tree frog, crocodile, and many other rainforest animals. Each page simply features the animal's name and a pop-up of the creature. The art is bright and modern, perfect for holding the attention of babies and young children.

Me . . . Jane Patrick McDonnel

This biography of the legendary conservationist Jane Goodall is perfect for kids. The book features a simple telling of her childhood and fascination with animals. Her story is told in a wonderfully heartwarming way. The artwork is whimsical and has a very natural feel to it. It's an inspirational book that any animal-lover will enjoy!

We're Roaming in the Rainforest Laurie Krebs

Get kids up and active with this rainforest book. Each page begins with a verb and describes the animal doing the action. As you read, encourage your kids to act it out too! There are well-known animals like sloths and parrots, and there are lesser-known animals like pink river dolphins and leaf-cutter ants. The final pages provide a description of each animal and a map of South America. This is a fun choice for preschoolers and early elementary kids.

One Small Square: Tropical Rainforest Donald M. Silver

The overarching concept of this book is to take one square foot of a rainforest and examine it in incredible detail. There are extensive illustrations throughout the book and the text offers a wealth of information about this unique ecosystem. Plus, there are a few suggestions for activities you can do at home to extend the learning experience. Take in this book a few pages at a time with kids ages 5-9.

In the Rainforest Kate Duke

Go along with two children as they tour the rainforest with a friendly guide. The dialogue is presented in speech bubbles—a light and friendly feature that kids will enjoy. There are several diagrams and informative illustrations, too. Instructions for making your own terrarium are included in the final pages. This book provides a lot of information, so it's best for 2nd - 4th graders.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest Lynne Cherry

A man travels to the rainforest one day in order to cut down a kapok tree. He swings and swings his ax, but soon grows tired. He lays down and falls asleep. As he sleeps, animals come by and whisper in his ear. Each tells the story of how they desperately need their habitat. What will the man do when he wakes up? This story reiterates the need to save the rainforest from those who wish to tear it down. The message and text are easy enough for early elementary children to understand.

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