A picture is definitely worth a thousand words when you use books to teach your students about ecosystems! Here are some of my favorite ecosystem books for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders that you’ll love for read-alouds, reading groups, and your classroom library.
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There is a ton of vocabulary for students to learn during an ecosystems unit, and this book is a helpful way to provide a simple overview of what an ecosystem is, including nonliving factors, organisms, organization, types of ecosystems, and more. This is a great option for guided reading groups but would work just as well in your science book box.
Kate Messner does a fantastic job exploring various ecosystems in her Over and Under series. Books like Over and Under the Pond are great for both read-alouds and your classroom library, with easy-to-follow storylines, lovely illustrations, and glossaries. These are perfect to use when you teach specific ecosystems like ponds, rainforests, oceans, or areas like under the dirt or snow.
It can be challenging for elementary students to differentiate among the animal kingdoms. I like Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth for a solid overview. Great classroom library pick that you can also use during an adaptations lesson.
Food Chains & Food Webs
Food Webs makes it easy to teach students about the parts of a food chain and food web. And best of all, the diagrams start with the sun (not true in all books!). This is another great guided reading book, especially to review nonfiction text features.
It’s a Fungus Among Us is awesome if you have students interested in learning about the different types of fungi and their roles. There’s a lot of text, but the topics are super engaging and I love that there are experiments included, too. It’s a great book to have if you don’t know a whole lot about decomposers (I don’t ).
Predators & Prey
Ultimate Predatorpedia is another must-have ecosystem book for your classroom or home library. NatGeoKids books are always a hit with kids and this one’s no different! It has so many interesting facts and photos to help kids learn about predator-prey relationships in ecosystems around the world.
I love the Science Comics series! Birds of Prey: Terrifying Talons is a fun nonfiction graphic novel with lots of information about eagles, vultures, and other birds at the top of their food chains. Plus, you can double-dip with lessons on physical/behavioral adaptations. You’ll definitely want to check out the whole collection!
If you’re looking for a book to help teach students about keystone species, What If There Were No Bees? by Suzanne Slade is my recommendation. This is a great book to pair with a lesson on food webs, niche, and cause and effect. If you’re not into bees, you can check out her books about gray wolves and sea otters.
Human Impact on Ecosystems
Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests teaches readers about different types of forests and then goes into detail about the causes and effects of deforestation, as well as proposed solutions. I love how the information is organized and I especially like the calls to action in the final chapter.
Finally, I also recommend adding Old Enough to Save the Planet to your ecosystem books list. This picture book introduces readers to 12 kids around the world who are working for climate change. This read-aloud would make a great kick-off to a community activism project or human impact research activity.
I’m always on the lookout for great science books for elementary students! Let me know what other favorite ecosystem books you use with your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students!