Favorite Kids’ Books: Insects, Spiders, & Other ‘Bugs’

On this page, you’ll find a growing list of children’s books that I’ve paired with some of my photos, videos, and blog posts. These are books I think will grab kids’ interest, maybe fill in some informational blanks, and—I hope—ignite a lifetime of curiosity about our natural world.

(If you wish to buy a book, consider Bookshop.org, where profit from online book purchases is distributed among independent bookstores.)

Jerry Pallotta’s Who Would Win? – Ultimate Bug Rumble, illustrated by Rob Bolster. The book’s sixteen-creature, bracketed tournament pits bug against bug, with cool facts about their anatomy and fight tactics. All Pallotta’s books are super-engaging. This one might just spark kids’ interest in entomology.

One of my blog posts also explores insect winners and losers. It’s called A Wasp Whodunnit, where I share a wasp-nest crime scene and try to figure out who’s responsible for murder and mayhem. Here’s a photo from that post—and nope, that’s not a wasp. It’s an earwig, which may or may not be a suspect.

An earwig stands on a paper wasp nest

Candace Fleming’s Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. This book about social insects follows one worker bee’s fascinating life journey. Fleming’s storytelling stays true to facts while transforming nonfiction into a riveting page-turner. Eric Rohmann’s gorgeous, detailed art puts us inside the hive and flying alongside the protagonist, Apis. Kids will love this book, and I bet you will, too!

In another blog post, A Question of Palace Intrigue, I wrote about how paper wasps are also social insects that work cooperatively to care for their colonies’ little ones—until they turn cold-hearted and sinister, that is. In this photo from that post, the wasp is munching on one of the nest’s pupae.

A paper wasp chews on the leg of a removed pupa

The Truth About Spiders, by Annette M. Whipple. The book explains spider anatomy and biology, like how they make silk and build webs. It answers questions a creeped-out kid might have, like why are spiders so hairy? Whipple also explores the question of danger; why we need to understand spiders can bite, but we don’t need to fear them. The text is a fun read with fabulous macro photos. I could barely tear myself away from one page to read the next!

Here’s a photo of one of my many spidey neighbors. With that spooky shadow, he might be scary to some kids. All the more reason to have them read Whipple’s book!

Moth & Butterfly: Ta Da! by Dev Petty, illustrated by Ana Aranda. The book shows how moths and butterflies are similar and how they’re different. Both text and art made me laugh out loud. My favorite spread is one where the caterpillars are eating leaves—the art is hysterical.

Here’s my related photo. Less flamboyant than a Monarch, the hickory hairstreak butterfly’s style is all about accessories. Look at those matching legs & antennae!

I just love The Book of Brilliant Bugs, by Jess French, illustrated by Claire McElfatrick. It’s much more than a (terrific) reference book. It has lots of great explanations, including why bugs matter on our planet. There’s also a wonderful invertebrates family tree. Kids will love this book.

In my blog post, From Petticoat to Ball Gown, a tree cricket’s wings unfurl. But something key to her survival is missing… can you tell what it is from the photos? All is revealed in that post.

13 Ways to Eat a Fly, by Sue Heavenrich, illustrated by David Clark. Kids engage in a fly countdown with every page turn. That’s because the book follows a swarm of thirteen flies that one by one get consumed by a predator. The kid appeal is fantastic as the hapless flies are zapped, liquified, zombified, or eaten using other means of capture. This book is filled with facts that may inspire an interest in entomology. Better yet, it’s more than educational—it’s hysterical! The book even includes nutritional information about a single serving of flies.

I couldn’t possibly eat the horse fly you see here—I couldn’t stop staring at his shades!

Image Credits: Carol Doeringer, Publishers (for book covers).