The 6 Best Children’s Books About Rivers to Explore Today

Key Points

  • The best overall children’s book about rivers is The Wonders of Rivers.
  • Pick between non-fiction, fact-based books about rivers and fiction books that weave rivers in with a deeper message.
  • Consider the reading level of your kiddo before making that final purchase!

Sometimes they start off as tiny springs that bubble out of the earth and sometimes, they’re fast, powerful, and raging. Rivers are one of nature’s many wonders and each has a story to tell. They can be small, even drying up when droughts come about but people and even animals can alter them over time too. If you have a child interested in learning about nature, books about rivers are great to explore. If your baby is too young to read, there are books about rivers you can read to them. As they grow older, they have different options that are informative with engaging illustrations. There are books filled with facts for older kids to leaf through and there are even books about rivers that deliver heartwarming messages.

In this article, we cover the six best children’s books about rivers. If you’re looking to introduce your child to rivers, the best overall in this list is the perfect start. If you have a kiddo who is going through a difficult time and needs some inspiration, we highlight a book with a touching message. When it comes to rivers, we can’t miss the one that carries the most water. We highlight a book that’s all about the Amazon river, and we also suggest a book that’s all about habitats. We end the list with a book meant for older kids and that is only a 15-minute read. There is something for everyone!

  1. They Call Me River
  2. They Call Me River

    • 40 pages.
    • Recommended for children ages 3 through 5.
    • Written by Maciek Albrecht, the founder of Magik Animation Studios.

    Check Amazon

Best Overall: The Wonders of Rivers

Best Overall

The Wonders of Rivers (The Wonders Series)

The best overall children’s book about rivers is The Wonders of Rivers. This is part of the Wonders series, and the author gently and creatively introduces rivers to children. Book one of this series introduces children to the general environmental topic and in this book, they get an introduction to the specific resource of rivers. The aim of this book is to encourage children’s curiosity when it comes to environmental issues. This way, they can grow into environmentally conscious adults.

The book is 29 pages in length and is appropriate for children between the ages of four and eight. Your kiddo gets to discover the different benefits of rivers. They are presented as wonders so that it makes comprehension a lot easier. The book also suggests a couple of simple river protection actions that your young reader can implement. The book was written by Claire Pillarkins who is a mother raising her children in southern Africa. She is a self-described environmentalist and is passionate about raising environmental awareness among children.

Customers rate this book five out of five stars. They appreciate the simplicity with which it is written as well as the deeper message behind the words presented. Children get to realize the true wonders of rivers — which aren’t always apparent — particularly if you’re living in the hustle and bustle of city life. If you want to instill a love for the outdoors and a responsibility to protect the environment in your children, this is a great book to pick up. It gets them started early with an understanding that they are part of the greater ecosystem and that they have a responsibility to care for and protect it.

Best Lesson-Inspired: They Call Me River

This hardcover book, also available in a Kindle version, is a touching story about a river that explains the cycle of life from raindrops all the way to the ocean. It’s a very moving tribute to how a river is born and how it’s carried along. The book describes the different facets of a river like how it plays, how it sparkles with the sunlight, how it grows, and how it moves. Sometimes it cascades, sometimes it is so still, it reflects the sky, and sometimes, it carries others along.

The book goes on to explain that when a river reaches the sea, it blends into it. It becomes it. Then, it rises up into the sky to be held by the clouds just before raining down. And so, its life begins again. The author writes this book in a way that subtly points to the cycle of human life (and really any other life on earth). It’s suitable reading for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old and it is 40 pages in length. The writing is song-like and though the text is simple enough for a child to comprehend, the underlying metaphor for the cycle of life remains.

Customers rate this book five out of five stars. Some customers know a child named River and this has been an even more impactful book for them. One mom says that she sobbed throughout the entire book. She named her son River, and she found the story incredibly touching. Another customer says that this book is “as beautifully told as it is illustrated.” She describes it as a breathtaking work that explains how life cycles the same way water does. It has a sophisticated quality yet remains digestible for young minds.

Best About the Amazon River: DK Eyewitness Books The Amazon

Best About the Amazon River

DK Eyewitness Books The Amazon: Step into the World's Largest Rainforest and Learn All There is to Know About the Mighty Amazon River

You can’t really talk about rivers without thinking about the Amazon River. This book takes children on a cruise along the largest river in the world. They get to explore the vibrancy of the tropical rainforest that it cuts across and learn tons of facts about this mighty river. The book explores the life that lives in the river, on the river, and all around the river. It touches on the river’s geography, its source, and all of the countries that it is nestled into.

The Amazon River has helped to create diverse ecosystems. Your kiddo gets to explore all of the flora and fauna hosted by the river, they get to discover different kinds of exotic birds that live around the river, and they also learn about the different forest floor dwellers. Along with discovering all of these exciting aspects that surround the Amazon river, they also get a peek into some of the scary predators that also reside both in and around the river. The book is comprehensive, even touching on ancient civilizations that used to occupy this area.

Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars. It is 72 pages in length, for children between 8 and 12 years old. One customer says it’s very engaging for middle schoolers while another says that the illustrations and information are fantastic, allowing children to learn about the importance of the rainforest to the world’s ecosystem while enjoying some eye-catching photography. Whether you are teaching your child at home or you are running a classroom full of curious kids, this is a great addition to your library for young readers.

Best Inspirational: I Talk Like a River

Best Inspirational

I Talk Like a River

This book was awarded the Best Children’s Book of the Year by the New York Times. It’s about a boy who has a hard time speaking. He stutters and it makes him feel alone and isolated. He wishes he could communicate clearly but the stutter prevents him from letting the words flow. His father takes him on a walk by the river to help him discover how to let those words flow instead of letting them get stuck in the back of his mouth. If you’re a parent, you know there are moments when your child looks up to you to help them reconnect with the world around them. That’s what the story is about.

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Jordan Scott is a poet who wrote the text in this book. It’s incredibly moving, powerful, and uplifting. If you have a kiddo that’s feeling a bit lost, lonely, or having trouble fitting in, this is a great book to pick up. It explains these difficulties in a soft and gentle way and delivers an empowering message that young minds can really lean on. It’s such a beautifully illustrated and well-written book that the New York Times isn’t the only publication that has taken notice of it. The Wall Street Journal, People magazine, NPR, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and so many more publications have named this the best book of the year.

Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars. The writing is described as superb because Jordan Scott is able to relay the intense emotions that a child who stutters experiences. The illustrations are a gorgeous representation of these feelings as well. Customers call it masterful. If you have a kiddo dealing with speech issues or just feeling like an outsider, this book carries the message they need to hear. One customer who is a speech-language pathologist immediately fell in love with this book. She shared it with a friend of hers who has a speech sound disorder and she said she wish there was a book like this when she was growing up.

Best About Habitats: About Habitats: Rivers and Streams

About Habitats: Rivers and Streams

If you feel like your kiddo is ready to have the first conversation about waterways and conservation, pick up About Habitats. The author and illustrator of this book team up to create an accessible introduction to rivers and streams for children between the ages of 3 and 7. The book is 48 pages long and touches on all of the rivers’ major attributes, the different plants and animals that live within and around them, and their global diversity.

Although the concepts may seem complex, they’re not. The author explains each in a very simple and easy-to-understand language. Plus, your kiddo gets to enjoy full-color, detailed art that shows the different characteristics of the world’s streams and rivers. Your kiddo gets a look from the mighty Amazon river in South America all the way to the brooks of the Alps. Incorporate this into your child’s library so they can have a resource for casual exploration and early learning.

Customers rate this book five out of five stars. The message is accessible to young readers yet still powerful. The accompanying artwork is in watercolor and adds an exquisite finish to the overall feel of the book. Young readers get the corresponding visuals as they learn about the six different continents and all the rivers and streams in different habitats throughout the globe. One reader calls it a “handsome introduction to the topic.”

Best Fact-Filled: 14 Fun Facts About The Rhine River

Best Fact-Filled

14 Fun Facts About The Rhine River: A 15-Minute Book (15-Minute Books 71)

This next book may be a bit too complex for readers under 7 years old. It is perfect for 8-year-olds and teens, though. It’s a 15-minute book that covers 14 fun facts about the Rhine river. It covers the beginnings in the Swiss Alps and all of its valleys and waterfalls. Your young reader learns about what country the Rhine River began in, how many deltas the river has, the country that owns Lake Constance, and the animal that is taking over the Rhine River.

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If your kid loves learning new facts, this is a great book to add to their library. The aim is to give young minds a lot of fun and exciting facts so they’re easier to remember. Customers rate this book 4.1 out of five stars. It’s a quick and fact-filled overview of the mighty Rhine. One customer says that it’s great as an additional Rhine resource for travelers who are unfamiliar with the river. Another called this quick read very enjoyable. She appreciates that the author provides all those little tidbits of information that create a bigger picture.

Criteria: What to Look for in Children’s Books About Rivers

When you’re ready to narrow down your options for the next book about rivers for the kiddo in your life, consider the following criteria.

Fact or Fiction

Decide if you would prefer your child engage with a factual book that talks about how rivers form, how they move, what type of animals inhabit the areas where they run, and where they lead. If your child already has this foundational understanding, you can get more creative by incorporating fiction books about rivers. The inspirational book we highlight in the list above is a perfect example of a book about a river that has a deeper message.

Reading Level

The other important factor to consider is the reading level of the book. You can typically find this listed just underneath the book’s description. You get a reading age range, the total number of pages you can expect, and the grade level for the book. This way, you can make sure that your little reader is enjoying the book thoroughly. The language is more digestible and even if there is an underlying lesson, it’s still perceptible to young minds.

The 3 Different Types of Children’s Books About Rivers

In this list, we included three different types of children’s books. We expand on those three a little more below.


A little inspiration goes a long way, no matter your age. Children are growing at such a rapid speed that it can be hard to remember what it was like at that age when we’re adults. With this constant evolution come a lot of challenges. An inspirational book that touches on challenges and how to overcome them is always a great addition to your child’s library. Moreso if your child has an affinity for rivers because you can combine the two.


The other type of book that you can pick up is a fact-based book. These are foundational books that give your child an understanding of everything related to rivers. It’s like laying the groundwork for them to explore more. That could be additional books about rivers, animals, or other wonders of nature, like mountains and clouds.

Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle

You are also going to frequently come across several different options when selecting a book online. If you’re building a library in your child’s bedroom, make sure to pick up either the paperback or hardcover versions of a book. If your child prefers reading the Kindle versions of books, many titles are available in that format. Hardcover books tend to be slightly more expensive than paperback options, but they are more durable.

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