RSPB England Communications Officer, Becca Smith, takes a look at our top nature and wildlife books, not just to inspire you with our natural world, but perhaps to keep the little ones entertained too!

Recent events may have left you thinking about the next book you’ll be picking up as you seek an escape from the outside world. The nature outside has somewhat refused to be ignored in recent weeks however, with spring bursting into life right outside our windows.

If the to-ing and fro-ing of birds, insects and mammals, and the blossoming of trees, flowers and hedgerows have left you intrigued, a book could help you in uncovering the secrets of your garden or local green space.

While there’s a plethora of information online, sometimes there’s nothing like curling up with a good book, and how better to spend your time than learning something new too?


 Best for beginners

As you sit at your desk at home, feathered friends will no doubt be visiting your garden.  While they may not be raptors or rarer species, look out for garden birds you may not have noticed on your rush to the car on previous mornings.  If you’re after some easy advice on how to work out what birds you can see, or you’re up for learning some fun facts about those who are taking advantage of your bird feeder, I Like Birds by Stuart Cox is a great place to start. With everything from lively anecdotes to binocular basics, I Like Birds is the perfect beginner’s guide to 60 of Britain’s most loved birds, including those who may frequent your garden or local                                               green space.

 Best for birds of prey

A good raptor all-rounder, the RSPB book of British Birds of Prey ranks the highest amongst our customer reviews. An informative book with over 200 stunning photographs to match, this guide to Britain’s raptors tells of the stories behind our beloved species and the remarkable recoveries many have made throughout history. Sure to fill you with awe, the book will no doubt come in handy should you visit one of our reserves, with informative guides to when and where is best to spot birds of prey - from buzzards to ospreys.

 Best for wildlife

Talking of observing those who call the outdoors home, there is more to see that just birds. Whether it’s mammals, butterflies and moths, reptiles and amphibians, insects or fish that grab your attention, the RSPB British Naturefinder features nearly 300 species that could be found across the country.  The book is perfect for those who have never before considered where they might find a shrew, a small blue butterfly or an emperor dragonfly, with tips along the way to ensure that you have the most rewarding wildlife-watching experiences.

 Best for activities

There’s no need for anyone to go stir crazy during their time at home, and that includes children too. Not only can seeking out wildlife in your garden or local green space help to ease their restlessness, but there’s plenty to learn about nature too. Our fantastic RSPB nature clipboard is packed full of activities to involve children aged 7 to 12 with wildlife, including instructions to make bird and butterfly feeders, a minibeast hotel or a window-box garden. With the handy clipboard and spotter sheets, children can easily go out and study insects and other wildlife, identifying birds, plants and animal tracks in the process.

 Best classics for children

As we’ve just celebrated the Puffin Festival of Big Dreams (8th-14th June), we couldn’t forget an all- time Penguin classic – the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Many of us will remember the bright illustrations and marvelled at just how much the very hungry caterpillar managed to munch! Teaching us about metamorphosis for perhaps the first time, we wonder how many biologists and conservationists today fondly remember their caterpillar bedtime tales?


We hope that nature’s wonders can help you to find solace both now and in years to come. Learning more about nature doesn’t mean delving straight into the science – there are plenty of great reads just like these over on our website that can help you to experience wildlife and learn as you go. What’s more, by supporting our online shop, you’ll be helping to give wildlife a home for the future.

The saying goes that “nothing beats a good book”, but in our opinion, a nature book trumps the rest.