Garden Staff Picks | Children's Books | Desert Botanical Garden


Garden Staff Picks | Children’s Books

Looking for great books for kids? Dive into some selections recommended by Garden staff that will take young readers into the world of the Southwest desert and beyond. Visit the Garden Shop on your next visit or online.

“The Story of Camelback Mountain”

Now that I have three little grandchildren, I’m always looking for good books to read with them.  One of my favorites is “The Story of Camelback Mountain” by Estelle Cohen and Pam Hait.  It was published in 2019 and tells the story of a young princess and her pet camel named Sonora.  From the title, you can tell that it has great local flavor and celebrates nature and conservation in an age-appropriate way.

Ken Schutz
The Dr. William Huizingh Executive Director

 “Way Out in the Desert!”

I love this book it brings back memories of elementary school. As a native Arizonan it was a favorite to read; it made me appreciate my desert home and the creatures I share it with. Plus, the illustrations are so fun; I often find myself quoting it with my mom even as an adult.

Alexandra Wadsworth
Exhibits Coordinator


My son loves when we read “Way Out in the Desert”. He has fun howling like a coyote and I close my eyes while he counts the number of beautifully illustrated scorpions and spiders.

Kelsey Wolf-Donnay
Assistant Director of Philanthropy, Annual Giving

“50 Science Things to Make & Do” 

This has so many fun science based activities that kids can do at home with their family. My family loved making rock candy!

Sharah Nieto
Children’s Education Manager

“Desert Life Sticker Activity Book”

I have traveled several times to Ireland to volunteer at a Summer Camp for kids near Dublin.  I would bring art activities and always did a unit about Arizona and the desert. These sticker activity books are small and pack easily in your luggage. I’ve also used this sticker activity when teaching preschoolers at my church about the desert in which they live. All of the stickers are life-like and realistic and we know kids love stickers!

Joni Ward
Plant Registrar

“Hurry and the Monarch “

I love the watercolor illustrations and my two-year-old is very excited by the butterfly pictures. He yells “butterflies” when he sees the book. It shows some details of the monarch migration by contrasting the mobile and ephemeral life of the monarch with the largely stationary and long-lived tortoise. As an entomologist, I was happy with the accuracy of the depiction. I was only disappointed by its sole focus on the eastern population of monarchs and not the western monarchs (or even an Arizona flightpath on the map). 

Kim Pegram
Program Director, Pollinator Conservation and Research