Books about Trees

With hats off to our friends at the tree-fes­tooned Iowa Arbore­tumMin­neso­ta Land­scape Arbore­tum, Chica­go Botan­ic Gar­dens, and Oma­ha’s Lau­ritzen Gar­dens, this list is ded­i­cat­ed to arborists every­where, pro­fes­sion­al and ama­teur … you take care of an essen­tial part of our ecosys­tem. Thank you. Here’s a list of books for younger and old­er chil­dren, fic­tion and non­fic­tion. We hope you’ll savor each one.


Celebritrees: His­toric  & Famous Trees of the World
writ­ten by Mar­gi Preus, illus­trat­ed by Rebec­ca Gib­bon
Hen­ry Holt, 2011

Preus tells the true sto­ries of four­teen out­stand­ing trees from around the world, includ­ing a bristle­cone pine in Cal­i­for­nia that is 4,000 years old and the Tree of One Hun­dred Hors­es in Eng­land that shel­tered the Queen of Aragon and her sol­diers dur­ing a rain­storm. Back mat­ter includes addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about tree vari­eties in the book, a bib­li­og­ra­phy, and web­site links. Illus­trat­ed through­out this is a charm­ing book for ages 8 and up.

The Cherry Tree


Cher­ry Tree
writ­ten by Ruskin Bond, illus­trat­ed by Manoj A. Menon
Pen­guin Books, 2012

In north­ern India, young Rakhi plants a cher­ry tree in the Himalayan foothills where fruit trees are sparse. She nur­tures it and cares for it and grows old­er along with the tree.  A gen­tle, reflec­tive sto­ry. Ages 3 to 7.

Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Trees  

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Know­ing the Trees
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Jim Arnosky
Simon & Schus­ter, 1992

Crin­kle­root is a wise woods­man who takes read­ers on a jour­ney through the for­est, shar­ing wis­dom about hard­wood and soft­wood forests and the impor­tance of a mixed for­est for a healthy ecosys­tem for plants, ani­mals, and insects. Crin­kle­root shares how trees get their shapes, that dead trees play an impor­tant role, and the fac­tors that play a role in a tree’s devel­op­ment. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing infor­ma­tion and the water­col­or illus­tra­tions are engag­ing. Ages 4 to 8.

Grandpa Green  

Grand­pa Green
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Lane Smith
Roar­ing Brook Press, 2011

As a farm boy grows old­er, he shapes top­i­ary in a gar­den that reflects his mem­o­ries. Noah Galvin, a child, learns more about his great-grand­fa­ther as he wan­ders through the nar­ra­tive of this gar­den, grow­ing to under­stand that Grand­pa Green did not lead an ordi­nary life. There are details on each page that pro­vide a lay­ered read­ing expe­ri­ence and there is ample impe­tus for dis­cus­sion. This book would be help­ful after the loss of a loved one. Calde­cott Hon­or book. Ages 4 to 11.

Lord of the Rings  

Lord of the Rings
writ­ten by J.R.R. Tolkien
George Allen and Unwin, as well as Houghton Mif­flin, 1965

The epic sto­ry of good bat­tling evil in Mid­dle Earth, focus­ing on the sto­ry of the hob­bit Fro­do Bag­gins and his com­pan­ion Sam Gamgee trav­el­ing to Mor­dor to throw the Ring into the fires there, thus end­ing the cycles of greed and wars for pow­er, can­not be over­looked in a book­list of trees. More than trees, but appear­ing as trees, the Ents are an old and wise race, slow to action but a turn­ing point in the quest and the final war that frees Mid­dle Earth from Sauron’s tyran­ny. Ages 10 and up.


writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Jason Chin
Flash Point, 2009

When a boy dis­cov­ers a book about red­woods while wait­ing for his sub­way train, read­ing it takes him to explore the trees in his imag­i­na­tion, show­ing the read­er facts about these trees, some of which are as old as the Roman Empire. Roman sol­diers appear next to him on the train, help­ing him under­stand the his­tor­i­cal con­text. As he emerges from the sub­way, he is in the midst of the red­woods in Cal­i­for­nia, offer­ing him an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore their habi­tat and their sur­round­ings. The water­col­or illus­tra­tions are stun­ning and filled with ways to observe these trees that are among the old­est and most mag­nif­i­cent on Earth. An inten­tion­al blend of fact and fan­ta­sy, read­ers from age 3 to 9 will find this absorbing.

Swiss Family Robinson  

The Swiss Fam­i­ly Robin­son
writ­ten by Johann D. Wyss,
William God­win, 1816 (orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Ger­man in 1812).
Pen­guin Books, 2012 (close­ly adheres to God­win edition)

A pastor’s fam­i­ly is cast up on an island in the South Pacif­ic after their ship founders and sinks. For­tu­nate­ly, their ship was full of sup­plies that wash up on shore. It’s an action-packed adven­ture in which the island’s trees pro­vide sus­te­nance and shel­ter. This book may be sole­ly respon­si­ble for people’s dreams of liv­ing in tree­hous­es. This will be a chal­leng­ing but worth­while clas­sic for ages 10 and up

The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups  

Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Gila Ingoglia, ASLA
Brook­lyn Botan­ic Gar­den, 2008, updat­ed in 2013

A clear-spir­it­ed book about the impor­tance of trees, with guides for iden­ti­fy­ing their flow­ers, leaves, and shapes. You’ll learn about feed­ing sys­tems, ances­try, and the roles they play in our lives. The illus­tra­tions are essen­tial to this book and our under­stand­ing. It’s an essen­tial guide for chil­dren and par­ents to enjoy togeth­er, learn­ing while enjoy­ing the infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed about 33 tree species, most of which are native to North Amer­i­ca. Ages 4 and up.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  

A Tree Grows in Brook­lyn
writ­ten by Bet­ty Smith
Harp­er & Broth­ers, 1943

In this clas­sic sto­ry of immi­grants try­ing to improve their cir­cum­stances in Brook­lyn from 1902 to 1919, Fran­cie Nolan, her broth­er Neely, and their par­ents go through tough times as immi­grants who are shunned, strug­gling through near-star­va­tion but per­se­ver­ing as a fam­i­ly whose love pulls them through. Fran­cie is an engag­ing char­ac­ter who grows, much like the tree out­side the win­dow of their ten­e­ment, because she is resource­ful and finds joy in sim­ple plea­sures, books, and her fam­i­ly. Ages 12 and up.

A Tree is Nice  

A Tree is Nice
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Jan­ice May Udry
Harper­Collins, 1987

For the very young, this book explores all of the many ben­e­fits that trees bring to our lives. From plant­i­ng trees, to enjoy­ing their shade, to using their branch­es for draw­ing in the sand, this charm­ing book will fos­ter a respect for the trees around us. Calde­cott medal. Ages 3 to 8.

The Tree Lady  

Tree Lady:
the True Sto­ry of How One Woman Changed a City For­ev­er
writ­ten by H. Joseph Hop­kins, illus­trat­ed by Jill McEl­mur­ry
Beach Lane Books, 2013

In 1881, Kather­ine Olivia Ses­sions was the first woman to grad­u­ate from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia with a degree in sci­ence. Although she moved to San Diego to teach, she quick­ly became involved in her dream to bring green­ery to the city’s desert cli­mate. She wrote to peo­ple around the world to request seeds that would thrive in this area, plant­i­ng and nur­tur­ing trees that would cre­ate San Diego’s City Park and grow through­out the city. In 1915, the Pana­ma-Cal­i­for­nia Expo­si­tion was held in the park, pro­vid­ing a lush set­ting for the world to expe­ri­ence. With a foun­da­tion of sci­ence, a sense of biog­ra­phy, and evoca­tive illus­tra­tions, this is a beau­ty to inspire new tree lovers. For ages 5 to 11.

Tree of Life  

Tree of Life: the World of the African Baobab, writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Bar­bara Bash, Sier­ra Club Books, 2002

In this dra­mat­i­cal­ly illus­trat­ed book, we learn of the life cycle of this long-lived and hearty tree that sur­vives in the desert, pro­vid­ing shel­ter and sus­te­nance for insects, birds, ani­mals, and humans. It’s a won­der­ful book for teach­ing inter­de­pen­dence and learn­ing more about the African savan­nah. Ages 4 to 10.

Tree of Wonder  

Tree of Won­der: the Many Mar­velous Lives of a Rain­for­est Tree
writ­ten by Kate Mess­ner, illus­trat­ed by Simona Mulaz­zani
Chron­i­cle Books, 2015

In Latin Amer­i­ca, the rain for­est is home to the Almen­dro tree, which hosts more than 10,000 organ­isms, includ­ing a great green macaw and a blue mor­pho but­ter­fly. The num­ber of crea­tures dou­ble with each turn of the page so that the sense of the enor­mi­ty of life inside this tree can be under­stood. It is a math book, an ecol­o­gy book, and a poet­ry book that will be enjoyed in your class­room or home. Ages 6 to 11.

Tree, Leaves and Bark  

Trees, Leaves and Bark
writ­ten by Diane Burns and Lin­da Gar­row
Coop­er Square Pub­lish­ing, 1995

From crown to roots, a great deal of infor­ma­tion is pre­sent­ed in a friend­ly, under­stand­able way about tree seeds and grown trees. It’s a good take-along guide for iden­ti­fy­ing leaves in the for­est and urban set­tings. Ages 8 and up.

Wangari Trees of Peace  

Wangari’s Trees of Peace
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Jeanette Win­ter
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2008

In this true sto­ry of Wan­gari Maathai, envi­ron­men­tal­ist and win­ner of the Nobel Peace Prize, we fol­low her life from a young girl grow­ing up in Kenya to her found­ing of the Green Belt Move­ment. Alarmed to see large swaths of trees being cut down, she enlists the help of oth­er women to plant trees in their sur­round­ings. Today, more than 30,000,000 trees have been plant­ed through her efforts. One per­son can make a dif­fer­ence. Winter’s illus­tra­tions are warm and enlight­en­ing. Ages 4 to 12.

Winter Trees  

Win­ter Trees
writ­ten by Car­ole Ger­ber, illus­trat­ed by Leslie Evans
Charles­bridge Books, 2009

Illus­trat­ed with wood­cuts, this book helps chil­dren and their par­ents iden­ti­fy trees in the win­ter­time when their leaves have fall­en and the skele­tal struc­ture of the trees helps us see more clear­ly how the tree grows. The nar­ra­tive takes a clos­er look at sev­en trees, includ­ing the sug­ar maple, burr oak, and paper birch. Ages 3 to 8.

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