Book Recommendations

We compiled a list of books to immerse yourself in the wisdom and wonder of forests on Earth. Happy reading! ‍

Books For Children


The Great Kapok Tree by Lynn Cherry

Lynne Cherry journeyed deep into the rain forests of Brazil to write and illustrate this gorgeous picture book about a man who exhausts himself trying to chop down a giant kapok tree. While he sleeps, the forest’s residents, including a child from the Yanomamo tribe, whisper in his ear about the importance of trees and how “all living things depend on one another” . . . and it works. Cherry’s lovingly rendered colored pencil and watercolor drawings of all the “wondrous and rare animals” evoke the lush rain forests. Features stunning world maps bordered by detailed illustrations of fascinating rainforest creatures. An IRA Teacher’s Choice (1991), ABA’s Pick of the Lists, Reading Rainbow Review Book, NSTA-CBC Outstanding Trade Book for Children. Genre: Children’s literature, picture book, fiction
Shop this book at Barnes and Noble here

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynn Cherry

Five students explore where their food comes from and share their food stories during show-and-tell. Things take a turn when an honest mistake becomes a fruitful gift for all to enjoy. This book was written by a team of students and educators from ‘Iolani School and President George Washington Middle School in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Through this story, it is their hope that more people will grow their own food, buy from local farmers, plant more trees, and even start their own school garden.

Genre: Children’s literature, picture book, fiction, environmental learning
View the Oli Would Grow e-book here

Books For Adults

‍Finding the Mother Tree, Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard

From NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER and world’s leading forest ecologist, Suzanne Simard debuts her first book about the intimate and fascinating world of forests. A pioneer researcher on plant communication and intelligence, Simard’s TED talks have reached 10 million people worldwide and have even influenced popular filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar). 

In a journey of deep personal and scientific discovery, Simard illuminates the dazzling truth of trees, and their ability to communicate, cooperate, and help each other and other species in the forest in times of need. Using simple, elegant prose that illustrates complex, scientific findings, Simard debunks a century old idea that trees are competitive beings and instead discovers through vigorous research that trees are complicated, social, and cooperative species, connected through vast and rich networks of underground mycelia. Through her research, she’s found trees lead lives not too different from our own––that they sound warnings, put up defenses, cooperate with sophistication and intelligence similar to civil human societies.

Genre: Non-fictions, biography, auto-biography 

Shop this book on Barnes and Noble here 

‍To Speak for the Trees: My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

A world-recognized botanist and medical biochemist, Diana Beresford-Kroeger has revolutionized our understanding of forests by unveiling the hidden life of trees. Her memoir starts with a deeply personal story of the death of her parents, and how her upbringing as an orphan immersed her in ancient Celtic wisdom about the natural world. In the book, Beresford-Kroeger laments the lost forests of Ireland while simultaneously stitching together traditional Celtic medicines and the modern world of medical science.

To Speak for the Trees is both a story of Beresford-Kroeger’s incredible career and achievements as a scientist, as well as a roadmap for solving the global climate crisis. She awakens readers to the beauty and transformative power of forests while calling to action to save these dwindling, last frontiers. It eloquently describes how forests can not only heal us, but also help save the world.

Genre: Non-fiction, biography, auto-biography

Shop this book on Barnes and Noble here. 

The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe. 

Genre: Fiction

Shop The Overstory on Barnes and Noble here

Hawaiian Forest Plants by Mark Merlin

Hiking in the forests of Hawai’i offers many rewards. Walking along our mountain paths is an excellent form of healthy exercise. The scenic beauty of the Hawaiian landscape is spectacular and diverse, and there are many colorful, individual organisms that inhabit the forest environments.

Some people who walk the forest trails are concerned primarily with the challenge of climbing to the top of a peak or crossing the mountain range. These may be strong incentives for adventure, but many of us have additional interests in the surrounding plant life. We may want to know the local and scientific names of the various plants, as well as where they came from, how they got here, why they are where they are, and for what purposes they are (or were) used.

Many botanists prefer line drawings to photographs because such drawings can be more explicit in their presentation of botanical information. Positive identification, in fact, often requires very exacting inspection of floral parts along with coordinated referral to botanical “keys.” However, this field guide is for the beginner who appreciates photography. Those who wish to pursue the interesting field of Hawaiian botany in greater depth can use the short bibliography at the end to aid you on your way. Have fun!

Genre: Field guides, identification

Shop Hawaiian Forest Plants by Mark Merlin on Amazon here ‍