STEM Tuesday– Deserts — Book List

From the Antarctic to the Sahara, deserts cover about twenty percent of our planet. Despite harsh conditions, plenty of plants and animals – even people – have found a way to live in the desert.

Weird, Wild, Amazing! Desert: Exploring the World’s Incredible Drylands by Tim Flannery; illustrated by Sam Caldwell

Welcome to the weird wildlife you might find in a desert, from ants to lizards, rattlesnakes to scorpions. Each of the seventeen animal profiles is filled with in-depth and sometimes bizarre facts that highlight issues like climate change and conservation or explain more about evolution and habitats.

A Walk in the Desert (Biomes of North America) by Rebecca L. Johnson, illustrated by Phyllis V. Saroff

A lower middle grade text, this book uses photographs, notebook-like illustrated sidebars, and an engaging text to explore various North American deserts and the ways numerous plants and animals have developed strategies to exist in these challenging conditions. It also explores the interconnected food web and provides ideas for further research.

Keystone Species that Live in Deserts by Bonnie Hinmans

After introducing the concept of keystone species, the photo illustrated book explores the role of the desert tortoise, the addax, Indian vulture, Australian dingo, and guanaco within their desert ecosystems. Resources include extensive footnotes and bibliography, as well as a glossary and index.

Desert (Earth’s Biomes) by Tom Warhol

With a conversational tone and fun photos, this text defines the uniting definition and features of deserts. Then it explores the unique landforms, plants, and animals found in deserts around the world, dividing them into hot desert, temperate deserts, and costal deserts. Concluding with a short discussion about the threats they each face, as well as helpful resources and a glossary.

Desert Ecosystems (Earth’s Ecosystems) by Mirella S. Miller

This is a quick introduction to how deserts are formed and where they are found. Sections focus on animals, insects, birds, and plants. The last two chapters discuss desertification and how people can help save the world’s deserts.

Desert Biomes Around the World by M. M. Eboch

Deserts may be hot or cold, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are dry places. This book looks at deserts around the world and the adaptations that allow plants and animals to survive.

Cactus Queen : Minerva Hoyt establishes Joshua Tree National Park by Lori Alexander

What if you knew a place that was filled with thorny, spiny beauty and dainty wildflowers, but all other people saw was a wasteland? In the early 1900s that’s how people thought of the Mohave desert. But Minerva Hoyt saw the desert as a habitat worth saving, and she went all the way to Washington to let the Park Service know.

Death Valley National Park by Nate Frisch

Death Valley is the hottest, driest, lowest place in the U.S. It’s the place to go if you want to see sunbaked earth, salt flats, and sand dunes. It’s also filled with plants, from cacti to pine trees, birds, reptiles and mammals, and a rich history of human habitation.

Deserts (Explorer Travel Guides) by Nick Hunter

Inviting the reader on an exploration, this lower middle grade book uses engaging sidebars to offer packing and survival tips, amazing facts and figures, descriptions of previous explorers, and conservation notes. Stunning photographs highlight the landforms, plants, animals, and people who live in the deserts. The book also contains interviews with an explorer and a conservationist, a world map, fact file, places to visit, and suggestions for further research.

The Great Victoria Desert (Deserts Around the World) by Lynn Peppas

This is part of an engaging six-book series (largely written by Molly Aloian) which includes the Atacama, Gobi, Kalahari, Mojave, and Sahara deserts. Each book opens with a map, description, and fascinating facts about the specific desert. A discussion of the unique geography, features, plants, and animals is followed by a look at human habitation and development throughout the centuries. They all contain photos, “notable quotations” pertaining to the specific desert, fun sidebars, a timeline, and additional resources.

This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich, author

Sue Heavenrich, who writes about science for children and their families on topics ranging from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Visit her at

Maria Marshall, a children’s author, blogger, and poet who is passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she watches birds, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at

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