Butterflies: Books and Crafts

Do you think butterflies belong to hot summer days?

Butterflies are part of spring too! Monarch butterflies begin their migration north in March, and other other North American species are starting to break out of their chrysalis as well or emerge from winter hibernation as caterpillars.

green veined white butterfly

If you have a garden, you might find caterpillars munching on your new plants over the spring and summer. They can be nuisances—but as adults, many butterfly species help to pollinate plants. They are nectar-seekers, after all, just like bees!

So pick out a few of these books, and let's learn about butterflies!

Butterfly Picture Books to Read:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle – the classic butterfly story everyone should read!
  • Let’s Count Butterflies, by Susan R. Stoltz, illustrated by Cody Cooper Haufman – a simple counting board book that introduces a variety of butterfly species.
  • A Butterfly Is Patient, by Dianna Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long – a long-time favorite from one of my favorite nature picture book authors.
  • The Butterfly Alphabet Book, by Brian Cassie and Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Mark Astrella – a fun alphabet book showing some of the marvelous butterflies around the world.
  • Butterfly Counting, by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by] Shennen Bersani – a counting book for slightly older children with fun facts about butterflies mixed in.
  • Are You a Butterfly? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries – a very simple, engaging book about the butterfly biology.
  • From Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by Bari Weissman – a stage 1 reader about a classroom raising a caterpillar.
  • Caterpillars, Bugs, and Butterflies, by Mel Boring, illustrationsed by Linda Garrow – a good field guide for younger children with basic information about butterflies (and a few other bug species).
  • A Place for Butterflies, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Higgins Bond – a mix of simple read-aloud and detailed information about butterflies from another of my favorite authors.
  • Monarch Butterfly, by Gail Gibbonsa classic nonfiction book that’s also fun to read!
  • SeƱorita Mariposa, by Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G), illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero – a cute bilingual English/Spanish song that’s been turned into a lovely picture book.
  • When Butterflies Cross the Sky: The Monarch Butterfly Migration, by Sharon Katz Cooper, illustrated by Joshua S. Brunet – a bit longer, more informational book picture book about the Monarch migrations, but still a fun read.
  • The Very Impatient Caterpillar, by Ross Burach – a great fictional tale of one caterpillar’s metamorphosis.
  • For older children (or adults!): The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman – the story of a girl who grew up in 17th C. Germany with a love of butterflies and all sorts of insects. Maria Merian was one of the earliest entomologists and one of the first artist-scientists to realize that caterpillars became butterflies.
  • Summer Birds by Margarita Engle tells Maria Merian’s story as well, but in a picture book format.

butterflies made from collage and playdough

Nature Study Activities

  • Create collage butterflies using the style from Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Paint a piece of paper with bright, bold colors. Then cut this paper into two circles (lower wings), two hearts (upper wings). Using a solid color section of a piece of construction paper, cut a thin oval (body). Assemble the butterfly and glue the pieces onto a blank page. Use a marker or pencil to add antennae, eyes, and other details.
  • Use play dough or clay to create a model butterfly or caterpillar. Make sure to include all the basic body parts for a butterfly: three body segments (head, thorax, and abdomen), six legs, two antennae, and four wings. 
  • When you find a caterpillar outside, create a terrarium and watch it for a couple of days! Make sure to research that species to make sure you know what it eats, and then let it go after a while so that it can continue growing. (Some online stores offer butterfly kits—these can be a good way to watch caterpillars grow, but they can also introduce new diseases to an area, so please research this option before trying it.)
  • Start a list or a nature journal showing all the butterfly species and caterpillars you find this year. Draw each one in a notebook or take pictures and make prints. See if you can identify each butterfly, where it lives, what its caterpillars look like, and what plants it needs to live on.

What's your favorite picture book about butterflies?

Our favorite picture books about butterflies