Summer Reading List

Though it might be hard to believe, summer break is just around the corner! To help kids and adults stay on top of their reading, take a look at Project Learning Tree’s summer reading list separated by grade level. From informative nonfiction reads to silly fictional tales, these books will help keep inquisitive minds sharp over the summer months. 

Jump to:          K-2            3-5            6-8            9-12            Adult

Grades K-2


by Douglas Florian

ISBN-13: 978-1416986720

Seeds are sprouting, roots are spreading, and branches are swaying in this tree-mendous poetry collection. From coconut palms to bristlecone pines, use this book to creatively explore the arboreal world.

Underneath My Favorite Tree

Underneath My Favorite Tree
by M. L. Green

ISBN-13: 978-1604748581

Read along with this playful poem as a young girl imagines many of her favorite things underneath her favorite tree.

Trout Are Made of Trees

Trout are Made of Trees
by April Pulley Sayre

ISBN-13: 978-1580891387

How can a leaf become a fish? Join two young children and their Dads to find out, as they observe life in and around a stream. Check out how collage art is used to depict the ways plants and animals are connected in the food web.

Mami Miti

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
by Donna Jo Napoli

ISBN-13: 978-1416935056

In this book, authors tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977. Learn about how this African grassroots organization has empowered many people to combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation.

Planting a Rainbow

Planting a Rainbow
by Lois Ehlert

ISBN-13: 978-0152626105

This book helps children understand how to plant bulbs, seeds, and seedlings, and nurture their growth. The bright and colorful illustrations present flowers that represent each color of the rainbow. 

Grades 3-5


by Janell Cannon

ISBN-13: 978-0152050610

Tired of being bullied, the story’s main character, Crickwing the Cockroach, begins picking on creatures even smaller than himself. This amusing tale is rooted in natural history, complete with notes on cockroaches and ants that follow the storyline.

How Does A Plant Grow?

How Does A Plant Grow?
by Lawrence F. Lowery

ISBN-13: 978-1936959471

This book explains the many ways in which ALL plants are interesting… even the weeds. Young readers will be intrigued by the wide variety of shapes, sizes, and functions in flowers, fruit trees, and all sorts of other flora.

There's a Babirusa in My Bathtub!

There’s a Babirusa in My Bathtub!
by Maxine Roxe Schur

ISBN-13: 978-1584691174

This book introduces 13 exotic animals using a variety of poems that makes learning about these unsung animals fun and exciting. The intermingling of fact and fancy makes this a good book for helping children to differentiate between science and literature.

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery
by Sandra Markle

ISBN-13: 978-0761351085

Panamanian golden frogs are the national symbol of Panama. But they started disappearing fifteen years ago. What is causing them to vanish? Follow a team of scientists as they work to protect worldwide frog populations in this real-life science mystery.

Nature Recycles How About You?

Nature Recycles, How About You
by Michelle Lord

ISBN-13: 978-1607186274

Nature Recycles is a great book to introduce the concept of reuse to young children. By looking at the ways in which animals repurpose materials in their natural habitats, this book provides examples of recycling that will inspire youngsters to creatively reuse items in their own lives.

Grades 6-8


by Carl Hiaasen

ISBN-13: 978-0440419396

Roy recently moved from beautiful Montana to the swampy mishmash of Miami, and he’s not thrilled about the change. In a new habitat riddled with bullying, vandalism, and sabotage, learn about how Roy confronts and overcomes these challenges, all while readers receive a lesson in ecology.


by Roger Reid

ISBN-13: 978-1588381941

When 14-year-old Jason goes camping with his scientist parents, all he expects is peace and quiet. But Jason soon finds himself lost among the very longleaf pines that his parents hoped to study. The next thing he knows, Jason witnesses a crime and he has to use his knowledge of the outdoors to outwit villains and make it home safe!


by Paul Fleischman

ISBN-13: 978-0590511902

A vacant lot looks like no place for a garden. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise.

Heros of the Environment

Heroes of the Environment
by Harriet Rohmer

ISBN-13: 978-0811867795

Rather than featuring the usual roundup of environmental heroes, this book tells 12 true stories of contemporary conservationists who are working to fight pollution in cities, oceans, and wetlands, from Alaska to Mexico City. 

John Muir My Life with Nature

John Muir: My Life with Nature
by Joseph Cornell

ISBN-13: 978-1584690092

Written in the spirit of Muir, this book allows young adults to experience a true champion of nature. It includes activities that help the reader to understand and appreciate John Muir.

Grades 9-12

In the Blast Zone

In the Blast Zone: Catastrophe and Renewal on Mount St. Helens
by Charles Goodrich, Kathleen Dean Moore, and Frederick J. Swanson’

ISBN-13: 978-0870711985

This book explores the story of Mount St. Helen’s from human, geological, and ecological dimensions. It uses literary and scientific perspectives to investigate the mountain’s history of destruction and renewal.

Meditations of John Muir

Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple
by Chris Highland

ISBN-13: 978-0899972855

This book pairs quotes from Muir’s journals with short reflections on spirituality. Begin to explore the world of eco-spirituality with these 60 insightful Muir quotes.

Crossing Antarctica
by Will Steger and Jon Bowermaster

ISBN-13: 978-0897328968

In 1990, Will Steger completed what no man had ever done before: he crossed Antarctica on foot. Lured by Earth’s last great wilderness, Steger was determined to focus the world’s attention on Antarctica.

Forests: Diminishing Resources
by Allen Stenstrup

ISBN-13: 978-1599351162

With information about forest history and present day issues, this book presents statistics, timelines, and photographs that paint a picture of the issues facing today’s world forests.


by Wangari Maathai

ISBN-13: 978-0307275202

In Unbowed, Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began an environmental movement that focused on empowering women that spread across the African continent. Persevering over the Kenyan government and her own personal losses, Maathai continued to fight to save Kenya’s forests and restore democracy to the land she loved.

Flight Behavior
by Barbara Kingsolver

ISBN-13: 978-0062124272

This fictional narrative explores a possible effect of our world’s changing climate. Based in rural Tennessee, a young wife and mother experiences something she cannot explain. This discovery energizes various competing factions— climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians, and her own family— trapping the main character in the center of the conflict.

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
by Janisse Ray

ISBN-13: 978-1571312471

Janisse Ray grew up in a junkyard along U.S. Highway 1, hidden from most Florida-bound vacationers. This book tells the story of how a childhood spent in rural isolation grew into a woman’s passion to save the almost vanished longleaf pine ecosystem that once covered the South.

A Sand County Almanac
by Aldo Leopold

ISBN-13: 978-0345345059

Widely cited as one of the most influential nature books ever published, Leopold mixes essay, polemic, and memoir in these pages. A stunning tribute to the American landscape and a bold challenge to protect the world we love.


Not enough books here to satisfy your hungry readers? Check out some more recommended reading and sign up to receive PLT’s monthly e-newsletter The Branch!

Jackie Stallard

Jackie Stallard

Jackie is Director of Curriculum for Project Learning Tree. Jackie oversees the next generation of PLT’s PreK-12 environmental education materials, as well as other instructional materials and resources. She also directs strategic alliances that advance curriculum implementation with other environmental education and sustainability resource providers.

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