My nine-year-old son is a budding naturalist. We bought him a huge glass cabinet to house his collections of insects, shells, marine animals, rocks, nests, bones, dried flowers and more. Since he loves to collect and explore nature, I decided to use this as a learning opportunity. We began studying the classification of living things. We have visited many natural history and nature museums. And we started reading about the lives of other famous naturalists.
Reading the biographies of famous naturalists has been really rewarding. My son was excited to hear about other kids that had the same interests as him. He was able to learn about how they took those interests and turned them into important careers and discoveries. The stories have motivated him to contribute more to his nature journal and to ask more questions and make more hypotheses when we are out in nature.
Below is a list of my favorite children’s books about famous naturalists, including Charles Darwin, Beatrix Potter, Thomas Jefferson and more. Although these are technically picture books or simple chapter books, I think they are appropriate for all ages. I have learned a great deal from reading these books with my kids, and I have been inspired to pursue my own amateur naturalist studies. [Note: These are affiliate links to the books.]
One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin by Kathryn Lasky
Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith
Who Was Charles Darwin? by Deborah Hopkinson
Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation by Peggy Thomas
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies
The Slippers’ Keeper by Ian Wallace
Beatrix Potter by Alexandra Wallner
The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist by Margarita Engle
Who is Jane Goodall? by Roberta Edwards