Tag Archives: tree books for kids

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For our regular STEM Friday feature we recommend two books about trees for children, just in time for Arbor Day, next Friday April 24, 2015. (Read the rest of the reviews and see a video book trailer at Wrapped in Foil blog.) Then we'll finish out Butterfly Gardening With Children Week with a discussion of trees for butterfly gardens.

The first book, Branching Out: How Trees Are Part of Our World by Joan Marie Galat and illustrated by Wendy Ding (2014), describes a particular species of tree, how it used by humans, and what animals depend on that kind of tree in a series of four-page spreads. The 11 species of trees highlighted range from red maples and downy birches to pau brasil and cork oaks.

The second book, Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (2011), consists of a series of two-page spreads telling the stories of 14 famous, tall and exceptionally-old trees from around the world, the back matter gives more information about the trees and a number of suggestions about what the reader can do to help and encourage trees.

Appropriate for butterfly gardening week:  In the section about oak trees in the back matter of this book, we find out that a single large oak tree can support up to 34 species of butterflies!

That fact reminds us that although growing pretty flowers helps the adult butterflies, to have a truly productive butterfly garden you need to supply food for caterpillars as well.

Many beautiful species of butterflies require trees as larval hosts.

Examples:

1. Hackberry trees (Celtis species) are larval food for

  • Tawny emperor butterflies
  • Hackberry emperor butterflies
  • Mourning cloak butterflies
  • Question Mark butterflies
  • Snout butterfly

mystery-butterfly-2-identicationThe snout butterfly

Hackberry_Emperor,_Megan_McCarty46Hackberry emperor butterfly (Public domain photograph by Megan McCarty)

(Seed of the Week post about Canyon Hackberry)

2. Live oaks are larval food for California sister butterfly larvae.

California-sister-butterflyCalifornia sister butterfly, Ramsey Canyon, Arizona

Some duskywings and hairstreaks also use oaks for food.

3. Black cherry (Prunus serotina) trees are larval food for:

  • Red-spotted purple
  • Eastern tiger swallowtail
  • Coral hairstreak

4. Citrus trees (orange, lemon grapefruit) attract numerous giant swallowtails. Their larvae are called orange dog caterpillars.

caterpillar-orange-dogAn orange dog caterpillar on a grapefruit leaf

In addition to larval food, trees provide shelter for butterflies (and a multitude of other animals), provide safe places for the caterpillars to pupate, and some flowering trees supply nectar for many more adult butterflies.

In his book, Bringing Nature Home, entomologist  Doug Tallamy gives a list of how many species of butterflies and moths are supported by 21 kinds of trees. The numbers are astonishing! He says oak trees (genus Quercus) provide food for some 534 different species of butterflies and moths. Given that those butterflies are important pollinators and parts of the food web, that is an enormous contribution.

Activity:

If you are going to plant a tree for Arbor Day or any other event, consider choosing a local species that will host butterflies. You will get yet another benefit from a tree. Please leave a comment if you have any questions about how to choose a suitable butterfly host tree for your area.

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Wrap-ups:

 This is the final post for Butterfly Gardening with Children Week. Hope you enjoyed it. If you missed the previous posts from the week, check our links page for topics we covered.

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Interested in reading more great books about trees for Arbor Day? Try our giant, redwood-sized list of children's books about trees at Science Books for Kids.

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Disclosures: The books above were from my local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

 

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Children interested in trees? Thinking of doing a tree study unit? Here are some great books about trees for children. We're posting this list to celebrate the Festival of the Trees blog carnival that we're hosting this weekend.

Nonfiction Books:

Life Cycle of a Tree The Life Cycle of a Tree by Bobbie Kalman, Kathryn Smithyman, and Barbara Bedell (illustrator) has beautiful photographs and full-color illustrations. The chapters cover such topics as what is a tree, what is a life cycle, and how seeds move. This is a great informational book.
A-Log's-Life A Log's Life by Wendy Pfeffer, and illustrated by Robin Brickman is for young children who enjoy turning over rocks and looking under logs. This book talks about the importance of the tree, and the log that remains after the tree falls, to the community of animals, plants and fungi around it. The illustrations are unique 3D paper sculptures.
A-tree-is-growing A Tree Is Growing by Arthur Dorros and illustrated by S.D. Schindler is suitable for a range of audiences. It follows an oak tree through the seasons. Along the way are interesting sidebars of other species. Did you know that baobab trees store water in their trunks and actually swell up? The paper is dark and the illustrations are not the bright primary colors associated with picture books, but are very lifelike.
be-a-friend-to-trees Be a Friend to Trees (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out, Stage 2) by Patricia Lauber, and illustrated by Holly Keller, is part of the popular Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series. The emphasis of this book is how useful trees are. Starting with products and foods we use that come from trees, Lauber then devotes several pages to how many animals need trees for food and homes. Finally she moves to less concrete benefits of trees, such as holding soil and water, and producing oxygen. The last three pages are devoted to simple ideas of how you can be a friend to trees through activities like recycling and planting a tree.
Tree-of-life Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab (Tree Tales) is written and illustrated by Barbara Bash. The baobab tree survives in a harsh environment and is leafless for most of the year. In fact, legend says that the tree was planted upside down. From this beginning, Bash relates the story the life cycle of the tree and all the creatures that depend on it. The watercolors are beautiful.
cactus Hotel Cactus Hotel (Big Book) by Brenda Z. Guiberson and illustrated by Megan Lloyd discusses the life cycle of a saguaro. It's easy to forget that a cactus like a saguaro can be a tree. Once again, this book covers the life cycle of a unique plant found in a harsh environment that is home to many creatures.
planting-trees-in-kenya Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Frances Foster Books) by Caire A. Nivola tells the story of Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 2004. Maathai returned to Kenya after studying abroad, to find the trees gone and the people struggling. She encouraged everyone to plant trees again to restore their environment. The nice thing about this book is that it is printed on recycled paper.
tell-me-tree Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids by Gail Gibbons
Starting out with general information abut parts of trees, such as seeds, leaves, bark and roots, Gibbons emphasizes identifying trees. She illustrates the overall shape, leaves and bark of sixteen different trees (although she also identifies leaves and trees throughout the earlier pages as well.) At the end she shows how to make your own tree identification book with pressed leaves, and leaf and bark rubbings. The last page is full of unusual and interesting facts about trees, sure to entice children to want to find out more.
life-cycle-oak-tree Life Cycle of an Oak Tree (Life Cycle of a...) by Angela Royston. Starting out with an acorn, and following an oak tree through its life cycle until it is hundreds of years old, the young reader learns both about the developmental process and the vocabulary needed to discuss it. The centerpiece of the story is an English oak, which can live for 900 years. What a venerable tree!Illustrated with clear, colorful photographs, and with a timeline on each page, the book is visually appealing.
Sky-tree Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Artby Thomas Locker and Candace Christiansen follows a tree through the seasons. Although frankly more about art than science, this book is likely to lead to discussions of art techniques and the changes that occur during the seasons.
poetrees Poetrees by Douglas Florian is as the title implies, a book of poems about trees. Florian includes poems about trees from around the world like the banyan and monkey puzzle, not just common North American ones. The layout consists of vertical, two-page spreads, giving the feel of looking at a tall tree. If you are familiar with Florian’s illustrations, you will recognize his unconventional art.
Leaf-man Leaf Man (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) by Lois Ehlert is inspiring because the author is such a wonderful artist. In this book, we see leaf shapes with added plant materials that form a funny leaf man. When the wind comes up, who knows where the leaf man is going to go.

If you would like to see more information about each book, click on the linked title, which will take you to the Amazon website. See the financial disclosure page for more information about my affiliation with Amazon.Please let us know if you have any favorite books about trees to add to the list.

This-Tree-Counts This Tree Counts! by Alison Formento and illustrated Sarah Snow is a counting book that shows all the creatures that depend on the oak tree behind the Oak Lane School. After counting all the creatures and learning about uses of trees, the children plant "baby trees."
we-planted-a-tree We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake is a picture book with poetic text. It shows two families who plant trees, one in New York City and one in Kenya, then follows with trees growing throughout the world.
Our-tree-named-steve Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and illustrated by David Catrow is a bittersweet story about the loss of a tree that meant a lot to a family. You might want to read this one first if your children tend to be sensitive, to see whether it is appropriate.
Leaf-and-Tree Backyard Explorer Kit: 3-in-1 Collector's Kit! by Rona Beame is for children who love hands on activities and want to learn more about trees. The kit includes a 3 1/2 by 8 inch Leaf and Tree Guide to trees (that will conveniently fit in a pocket or backpack), a plastic leaf-collecting bag, and an unbound 25 page Leaf Collecting Album. The guide has information about trees, how to identify a number of common species (with color photographs of specimens), and 16 hands-on activities.
Trees, Leaves and Bark Trees, Leaves & Bark (Take-Along Guide) by Diane Burns and illustrated by Linda Garrow is useful as a first identification guide to a few common North American trees.
leaf-jumpers Leaf Jumpersby Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans is a simple, poetic introduction to identification eight types of fall leaves. Leaves shown include ginkgo, sycamore, and basswood. Then the children sweep up leaves and jump into the pile.

Edit: If this list is hard to read or becomes outdated, we are now maintaining it at Science Books for Kids.

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