Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

The Wetland Wanderer: Wetland Books for Inquiring Young Minds

by Brenda Zollitsch

Most children don’t know what wetlands are, let alone what they contribute or why protecting them is important. Efforts to protect wetlands in the United States should include teaching the next generation of citizens and decision makers to both understand and value wetlands. In this blog entry, I share a review of a number of books on wetland issues for young readers interested in learning more about the natural world.

What are Wetlands?In my opinion, one of the best books on wetlands for children is called,What are Wetlands?” by Bobbie Kalman and Amanda Bishop (Crabtree Publishing, 2006). The book shares basic concepts using non-technical words to talk about both salt and freshwater wetlands. It walks young readers through a variety of wetland types and discusses the many plants and animals that depend on wetlands. The authors mention threats to wetlands and how we all need to work to protect them. To me, the message for this age group is clear, succinct and accompanied by stunning pictures.

Take a Wetlands WalkAs ASWM’s Wetland Wanderer, I am very partial to a book called, Take a Wetlands Walk” by Jane Kirkland (Stillwater Publishing, 2008). This book ties in art work by kids, lots of photography and interesting blurbs throughout. Recommended by the National Science Teachers’ Association, the text covers wetland types, functions, formation, and importance, including their role as nurseries for many species. This book has specifically been designed to complement experiential activities such as field trips to visit local wetlands.

A Wetland HabitatA Wetland Habitat” by Molly Aloian and Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2006) is filled with gorgeous pictures and interesting ideas about wetlands. This book emphasizes geography, biodiversity, food chains and the impact of weather on wetlands. This book is perfect for the 8-10 age group but the photos and images make this book appropriate for use with any age.

America’s Wetlands: Guide to Plants and AnimalsAmerica’s Wetlands: Guide to Plants and Animals by Marianne Wallace (Fulcrum Publishing, 2004) is geared to slightly older children (12+). The book explores wetland types, plants and animals. It includes a list of common and scientific names, detailed species information, maps, a resource list, and glossary. It also includes information on how to distinguish animal tracks and signs, and concludes with information about where to find wetlands with public access.

Here is the WetlandFor a more artistic approach to teaching about wetlands, Here is the Wetland” by Madeleine Dunphy (Web of Life Children’s Books, 2007) offers a stunning visual depiction of food webs and relationships between wetland plants and animals. Special kudos to the illustrator, Wayne McLoughlin, who manages to beautifully capture the essence of life in a wetland and bring children in at the eye-level to a world many have never seen.

Canada’s Wetland AnimalsCanada’s Wetland Animals” by Chelsea Donaldson (Scholastic Publishers, 2006) draws children into the wetland world by focusing on different wetland animals in mini “chapters”. Animals covered in the book range from beavers and river otters to snapping turtles, dragonflies and leeches. It offers memorable factoids that will impress the young mind; for example, that river otters can sleep while they are floating. I especially like that the format enables a continued conversation over several days/class sessions.

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival StoryMeadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story” by Thomas Yezerski (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011) offers a compelling story for older children who will surely benefit from the book’s messages about action and advocacy. This 2011 New York Times Notable Children’s Book focuses on the 20,000 acres of wetlands in New Jersey now known as the Meadowlands. This true story provides a more mature message about how wetlands are being destroyed, the impact of their loss and how people can work together to restore them.

A Day in the Salt MarshFinally, if you want to have your children or students learn about wetlands using an e-reader device, A Day in the Salt Marsh” by Kevin Kurtz (Kindle, is available as an e-book. This award-winning book shares how salt marshes change throughout the day as the tides come and go and how marsh plants and animals have adapted to live in this constantly changing world.

The Wetland Wanderer Reading with her ChildrenThere are many more wonderful learning tools out there. This review simply covers a few of those that I think are the best of the best. I wish you a wonderful time reading with your children and/or students. Please let me know if you are aware of other resources you think we should add to our educator resources page on our website. Feel free to send me an email at

For links to more books and lessons, please visit: Wetland Books for Kids and Wetlands as Classrooms.

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