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Ricky Rocket

Books and activities to build background knowledge — from Reading Rockets

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River Rangers: Books for Kids

These fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books are at the core of our River Rangers project — a hands-on science adventure for kids all about water and the rivers and streams in your community. Learn more about River Rangers here >

Download the River Rangers Toolkit to find out how to integrate these books into your youth programming or at-home summer learning. Dip in and start your adventure!


Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

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All the Water in the World

By: George Ella Lyon

Illustrated by: Katherine Tillotson

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Rich, rhythmic language combines with lush illustration to poetically describe the water cycle...

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Blue Floats Away

By: Travis Jonker

Illustrated by: Grant Snider

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A little iceberg strikes out on a big journey in this picture book that explores the wonders of...

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illustrated cover of "Clouds" showing horseback riders under a cloudy blue sky

Clouds

By: Anne Rockwell

Illustrated by: Anne Rockwell

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Learn about 10 different types of clouds — cirrus, stratus, and cumulus — as well as...

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Have You Seen My Duckling?

By: Nancy Tafuri

Age Level: 3-6 years old

An anxious mother duck leads her brood around the pond as she searches for one missing duckling...

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I Get Wet

By: Vicki Cobb

Illustrated by: Julia Gorton

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fun hands-on activities: in this beginning science book, a boy learns some of the properties of...

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It Looked Like Spilt Milk

By: Charles G. Shaw

Age Level: 3-6 years old

The white shape silhouetted against a blue background changes on every page. Is it a rabbit, a...

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Kumak's River: A Tale from the Far North

By: Michael Bania

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Spring comes to a remote Alaskan village, and the ice on the frozen river cracks and breaks and...

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Make Way for Ducklings

By: Robert McCloskey

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for...

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Mr. Gumpy's Outing

By: John Burningham

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Mr. Gumpy lives by a river. One sunny day he decides to take a ride in his small boat. It is...

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Over in a River: Flowing Out to Sea

By: Marianne Berkes

Illustrated by: Jill Dubin

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Slither like water snakes and slide like otters while singing to the tune of "Over in a Meadow...

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Rain

By: Manya Stojic

Age Level: 3-6 years old

When rain comes to the parched African savanna, the animals use all their senses to track the...

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Rain Drop Splash

By: Alvin Tresselt

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Follow the course of a heavy rain as it drenches people and animals and changes the landscape...

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Rain Rain Rivers

By: Uri Shulevitz

Age Level: 3-6 years old

It rains! It rains all over town, pattering congenially on windowpanes and rooftops. From...

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Swamp Chomp

By: Lola Schaefer

Illustrated by: Paul Meisel

Age Level: 3-6 years old

As swamp residents move, water ripples and the creatures munch, gulp, swallow and more. Short,...

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Trout Are Made of Trees

By: April Sayre

Illustrated by: Kate Endle

Age Level: 3-6 years old

As two children and their fathers explore a stream and its natural riches, a straightforward text...

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Waiting Out the Storm

By: Joann Early Macken

Illustrated by: Susan Gaber

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Wind whistles in the treetops, thunder rumbles, and lightning flashes and dashes between...

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Water Boy

By: David McPhail

Age Level: 3-6 years old

When a little boy overcomes his fear of water, fantastic things begin to happen: The birds who...

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Water Is Water

By: Miranda Paul

Illustrated by: Jason Chin

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Lyrical language and handsome, realistic watercolors present water in its many forms, from...

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Watersong

By: Tim McCanna

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Through the onomatopoeia of water sounds, this story takes young readers on a journey as a fox...

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Where the River Begins

By: Thomas Locker

Illustrated by: Thomas Locker

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Nature is the star in this affecting tale of a boy and his grandfather who journey to a waterway's...

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

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A Cool Drink of Water

By: Barabara Kerley

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Beautiful full-page photographs and spare, poetic text give global perspective to the idea that...

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A Country Far Away

By: Nigel Gray

Illustrated by: Dupasquier Philippe

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A remarkable and delightful book that shows how children are alike the world over, while at the...

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A Drop of Water

By: Walter Wick

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Filled with stop-action and close-up photography, this book features images like a single...

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A River

By: Marc Martin

Age Level: 6-9 years old

There's a river outside my window. Where will it take me? So begins the imaginary journey of a...

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A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History

By: Lynne Cherry

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Learn how the modern-day descendants of the Nashua Indians and European settlers were able to...

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Bartholomew and the Oobleck

By: Dr. Seuss

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Bored with rain, sun, fog, and snow, King Derwin of Didd summons his royal magicians to create...

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Beavers

By: Gail Gibbons

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Beavers are fascinating animals. They build their own homes and live in family groups. They keep...

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Bridges Are to Cross

By: Philomen Sturges

Illustrated by: Giles Laroche

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This ingeniously engineered book takes readers from the car-carrying Golden Gate Bridge in San...

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Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

By: Verna Aardema

Illustrated by: Beatriz Vidal

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The tale of herdsman Ki-pat is set on a dry African plain and is told in the familiar cadence of...

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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

By: Judi Barrett

Illustrated by: Ronald Barrett

Age Level: 6-9 years old

If food dropped like rain from the sky, wouldn't it be marvelous! Or would it? It could, after...

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Come on Rain!

By: Karen Hesse

Illustrated by: Jon J Muth

Age Level: 6-9 years old

"Come on, rain!" Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the...

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Earth Verse: Haiku from the Ground Up

By: Sally Walker

Illustrated by: William Grill

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A combination of haiku and impressionistic (but accurate) art, this book encourages readers to...

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Erosion

By: Joelle Riley

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Learn about what erosion is, how it happens, and the various ways that it can impact the Earth...

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Everglades

By: Jean Craighead George

Illustrated by: Wendell Minor

Age Level: 6-9 years old

As an Indian storyteller guides a boat of children down the sea of grass, he reveals the story...

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Explore Rivers and Ponds!

By: Carla Mooney

Illustrated by: Bryan Stone

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From puddles to lakes, streams to rivers, and bogs to swamps, each body of water contains an...

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Eye Wonder: Rivers and Lakes

By: DK Publishing

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Open your eyes to a world of discovery. Offering a new level of information through powerful...

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cover of "Flotsam" showing a fish's eye

Flotsam

By: David Wiesner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam —...

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Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean

By: Arthur Dorros

Illustrated by: Arthur Dorros

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Water is always flowing, from a brook to a stream, to a river to the ocean. Read and find out more...

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Grandfather’s Dream

By: Holly Keller

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The Vietnam war is over, and Grandfather and young Nam dream that the new dikes will restore the...

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Heat Wave

By: Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated by: Betsy Lewin

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The mercury is climbing in Lumberville, and the folks are doing everything they can to keep cool...

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I Know the River Loves Me / Yo se que el rio me ama

By: Maya Christina Gonzalez

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Whenever Maya visits the river, the river jumps up to greet her. It cools her when the summer...

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I Walk for Water

By: Lindsey Andrews

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Join a boy's daily walk to find water in his native African country. Along the walk, discover...

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Letting Swift River Go

By: Jane Yolen

Illustrated by: Barbara Cooney

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Sally Jane's experience of changing times in rural America, as she lives through the drowning of...

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Lotus and Feather

By: Ji-li Jiang

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Inspired by the true story of a crane that rescued a Chinese village. One day, when a village...

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Marshes and Swamps

By: Gail Gibbons

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Get an introduction to the concept of wetlands (swamps have trees, and marshes do not) and learn...

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McElligott’s Pool

By: Dr. Seuss

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Marco daydreams of all the possibilities that await him while he fishes in McElligot's Pool....

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Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story

By: Thomas R. Yezerski

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The 20,000 acres of wetlands in New Jersey now known as the Meadowlands were once home to...

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Minn of the Mississippi

By: Holling C. Holling

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The history of the Mississippi River Valley is told in text and pictures through the adventures...

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Oil Spill

By: Melvin Berger

Illustrated by: Paul Mirocha

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Did you know that an oil spill occurs somewhere in the world almost every day of the year? This...

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Otters Love to Play

By: Jonathan London

Illustrated by: Meilo So

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Head to the river, where a frolicsome bunch of otters plays all year round. Follow the baby...

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Our World of Water

By: Beatrice Hollyer

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This book follows the daily lives of children in Peru, Mauritania, the United States, Bangladesh...

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Over and Under the Pond

By: Kate Messner

Illustrated by: Christopher Silas Neal

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain...

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Pickles to Pittsburgh

By: Judi Barrett

Illustrated by: Ron Barrett

Age Level: 6-9 years old

In this charming sequel to the classic Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Kate and Henry eagerly...

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Pond and River

By: Steve Parker

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This Eyewitness book examines the relationship between ponds, rivers, and the larger bodies of...

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Prince William

By: Gloria Rand

Illustrated by: Ted Rand

Age Level: 6-9 years old

In Prince William Sound, a little girl named Denny finds a baby seal covered with oil. How can...

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River

By: Debby Atwell

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Explore the changes that occur through the centuries along a riverbank, from the arrival of the...

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River Story

By: Meredith Hooper

Illustrated by: Bee Willey

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Follow a river from its beginnings as a mountain stream formed from melting snow, as it rushes...

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River Town (Small Town U.S.A.)

By: Bonnie Geisart

Illustrated by: Arthur Geisert

Age Level: 6-9 years old

During the 18th and 19th centuries, small towns sprouted up along the banks of America's rivers...

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River Wild: An Activity Guide to North American Rivers

By: Nancy F. Castaldo

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Learn about the formation of rivers, the water cycle, and the variety of habitats that exist...

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Rivers of Sunlight

By: Molly Bang

Illustrated by: Penny Chisholm

Age Level: 6-9 years old

How does the sun keep ocean currents moving and lift fresh water from the seas? What can we do...

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Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems

By: Joyce Sidman

Illustrated by: Beckie Prange

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From spring’s first thaw to autumn’s chill, the world of the pond is a dramatic place. Though...

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Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet

By: April Pulley Sayre

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This love letter to Earth is an exploration of the beauty and complexity of the world around us...

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The Big Rivers: the Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Ohio

By: Bruce Hiscock

Illustrated by: Bruce Hiscock

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The book focuses on the 1993 floods in the Midwest, showing how unusual weather patterns affected...

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cover of The Boats on the River showing a drawing of a city, a bridge, and ships on a river

The Boats on the River

By: Marjorie Flack

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A ferryboat, paddlewheeler, ocean liner, tug boat, motorboat, sailboat, rowboat, freighter,...

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The Boxcar Children: Houseboat Mystery

By: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they have a home with heir...

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The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks

By: Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Ms. Frizzle, an unflappable science teacher, drives the magical school bus into a cloud where...

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The Raft

By: Jim LaMarche

Illustrated by: Jim LaMarche

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nicky isn't one bit happy about spending the summer with his grandma in the Wisconsin woods, but...

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The River: An Epic Journey to the Sea

By: Patricia Hegarty

Illustrated by: Hanako Clulow

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Follow a little fish on her epic journey downriver as she travels out into the unknown. With...

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The Ultimate Book of Water

The Ultimate Book of Water

By: Anne-Sophie Baumann

Illustrated by: Vanessa Robidou

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Discover the fascinating world of water! From a tiny drop to an enormous ocean, one of Earth's...

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The Water Princess

By: Susan Verde, Georgie Badiel

Illustrated by: Peter H. Reynolds

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce and she...

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Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe

By: Vera B. Williams

Illustrated by: Vera B. Williams

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Follow the red canoe from page to page as it journeys down river carrying the family on a camping...

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Walter Was Worried

By: Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Age Level: 6-9 years old

"Walter was worried" is a portrait of a very worried Walter. But wait! The letters that spell...

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Water Dance

By: Thomas Locker

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Travel with author-illustrator Thomas Locker and follow our planet's most precious resource...

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Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua sube

By: Pat Mora

Illustrated by: Meilo So

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Evocative watercolors and short, lyrical poems take readers on a trip, “Around our round world”...

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illustrated cover of Water Wonders showing a water pipe, a mouse with a magnifying glass, and a mouse with a jar of dirt.

Water Wonders: The Curious Adventures of Sydney & Symon / Las Maravillas del agua

By: Peter H. Reynolds, Paul A. Reynolds

Illustrated by: Renee Kurilla

Age Level: 6-9 years old

In this bilingual book, two young scientists, Sydney and Symon Starr, a sister and brother team...

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Water: National Geographic Kids

By: Melissa Stewart

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Water is all around us; we drink it every day. In this level 3 reader, kids will learn about the...

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Weather Poems for All Seasons

By: Lee Bennet Hopkins

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From the catchy nonsense of X. J. Kennedy's 'Snowflake Souffle' to the simple, surprising...

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Why Should I Save Water?

By: Jen Green

Illustrated by: Mike Gordon

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Children learn that clean water is one of our most precious natural resources. Find dozens of...

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

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Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home

By: Michelle Mulder

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Why the world’s water resources are at risk and how communities around the world are finding...

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Flush

By: Carl Hiaasen

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the...

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""

How to Cross a Pond: Poems About Water

By: Marilyn Singer

Illustrated by: Meilo So

Age Level: 9-12 years old

From “Water Music” and the “Babbling Brook” (it speaks in Brookish) to an ocean that “sometimes...

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Luz Makes a Splash

By: Claudia Davila

Age Level: 9-12 years old

With a heat wave and a drought threatening the city's water supply, Luz and her friends dive...

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Make a Splash! A Kid’s Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers and Wetlands

By: Cathryn Berger Kaye, Philippe Cousteau

Age Level: 9-12 years old

This book teaches elementary kids about the earth’s water crisis and empowers them to do...

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""

My Water Comes From the San Juan Mountains

By: Tiffany Fourment

Illustrated by: Dorothy Emerling

Age Level: 9-12 years old

An introduction to the nation's watershed, the Continental Divide, and how snowmelt forms the...

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Not a Drop of Water to Drink: Water for a Thirsty World (National Geographic Investigates)

By: Michael Burgan

Age Level: 9-12 years old

This book conveys a clear message to young readers about how precious clean water is and our...

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One Well: The Story of Water on Earth

By: Rochelle Strauss

Illustrated by: Rosemary Woods

Age Level: 9-12 years old

All water is connected. Every raindrop, lake, underground river and glacier is part of a single...

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""

Paddle-to-the-Sea

By: Holling Clancy Holling

Illustrated by: Holling Clancy Holling

Age Level: 9-12 years old

A young Indian boy carves a little canoe with a figure inside and names him Paddle-to-the-Sea....

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""

River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things

By: Pamela Michael

Age Level: 9-12 years old

An illustrated anthology of writing about water and nature by young people from the U.S. and 22...

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illustrated cover of Rivers showing a person in a canoe going down river opening to ocean.

Rivers: A Visual History from River to Sea

By: Peter Goes

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Our seas and rivers tell a compelling story about our planet. Take a journey along the most...

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""

Simple Steps Toward a Healthier Earth

By: Molly Smith

Illustrated by: Tad Carpenter

Age Level: 9-12 years old

It's easy and fun to be green! This activity book encourages kids to reduce waste and make their...

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""

The Dam Keeper

By: Robert Kondo

Illustrated by: Dice Tsutsumi

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Life in Sunrise Valley is tranquil, but beyond its borders lies certain death. A dangerous black...

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""

The Drop in My Drink

By: Meredith Hooper

Age Level: 9-12 years old

This is the story of a drop of water. The book takes us back thousands of years to see where the...

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""

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

By: Langston Hughes

Illustrated by: E.B Lewis

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Dazzling watercolors turn Hughes' short poem into an unforgettable glimpse of African...

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""

The Wind in the Willows

By: Kenneth Grahame

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Mole, Mr. Toad, Badger, and Ratty have enchanted children of all ages. Whether the four friends...

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Water Wow!

By: Paula Ayer, Antonia Banyard

Illustrated by: Belle Wuthriche

Age Level: 9-12 years old

A colorful infographic look at the many surprising and fascinating facts about water. Where did...

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Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery

By: Christy Mihaly

Illustrated by: Mariona Cabassa

Age Level: 9-12 years old

A friendly water droplet character guides children through topics ranging from melting and...

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""

Water: DK Eyewitness

By: John Woodward

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Water dives into every aspect of Earth's most precious resource-its chemical properties, its...

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""

You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Clean Water!

By: Roger Canavan

Illustrated by: David Antram

Age Level: 9-12 years old

How would you cope in a world without water? Featuring comprehensive diagrams, a timeline,and...

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