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Exploring Redwoods

Books, Videos, and Resources for Curious Minds

Redwood trees have captured the hearts and imaginations of people for millennia. We are still in awe of these ancient giants of the forest today. Stay inspired with us! Sempervirens Fund staff and supporters have gathered their favorite resources on redwoods for curious minds.

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Many great books have been written about the coast redwoods and the movement to protect them. Here are some of our favorites for adults and for children:

For Adults

Fiction

The Overstory by Richard Powers. W.W. Norton, 2018. The Overstory, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world.

Non-Fiction

California Forests and Woodlands: A Natural History by Verna R. Johnston. University of California Press, 1996. Gorgeous illustrations and photographs accompany vivid descriptions of the ecology of each of the state’s dominant forest types, including redwood forests.

Coast Redwood: A Natural and Cultural History by Michael G. Barbour (Ed.), John Evarts (Ed.), Marjorie Popper (Ed.). Cachuma Press, 2001. This handsome book covers the entire range of coast redwood from the Big Sur coast to the southwestern corner of Oregon and offers a comprehensive account of the ecology and human history of earth’s tallest tree.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World (The Mysteries of Nature) by Peter Wohlleben. Greystone Books, 2016. Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him.

Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet by Maria Mudd-Ruth. Mountaineers Books, 2005. Part naturalist detective story and part environmental inquiry, this book celebrates the fascinating world of an endangered seabird that depends on the contested old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest for its survival.

The Redwood Forest: History, Ecology, and Conservation of the Coast Redwoods by Reed F. Noss. Save the Redwoods League, 1999. This book provides powerful scientific evidence arguing for ecosystem-level conservation of the coast redwoods.

Remarkable Trees of the World by Thomas Pakenham. WW Norton, 2002. Stunning photography and descriptions of unique trees, including redwoods, can be enjoyed in this photo essay.

The Sempervirens Story: A Century of Preserving California’s Ancient Redwood Forest, 1900-2000 by Willie Yaryan and Denzil and Jennie Verado. Sempervirens Fund Press, 2000. This book contains many contemporary and archival photographs and is an intimate historical narrative about the Sempervirens Fund and its predecessor organization, Sempervirens Club.

Song of the Redwood Tree by Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass, 1891-2. Poet Walt Whitman sings of redwood forests as he writes about an emerging America after the Civil War.

Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson. University of California Press, 2005. Marvelously detailed and beautifully written, Tending the Wild is an unparalleled examination of Native American knowledge and uses of California’s natural resources that reshapes our understanding of native cultures and shows how we might begin to use their knowledge in our own conservation efforts.

Who Saved the Redwoods: The Unsung Heroines of the 1920s Who Fought for Our Redwood Forests by James Wasserman and Laura Wasserman. Algora Publishing 2019. This history of the early 1900s recalls the Progressive Era crusades of women and men who prevailed against great odds, protecting the best of California’s northern redwood forests.

Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston. Random House, 2007. This account is a unique perspective from those who climb the giants and grow to love them and their place in the biosphere.

For Children

Fiction

A Voice for the Redwoods by Loretta Halter. Polar Bear & Company, 2003. Its vivid depictions of the drama of life and death among the forest’s plants and animals, entertain young readers while also presenting the biology of a tree’s life functions and growth stages, as well as the interrelationships of plants and animals in the forest ecosystem.

The Fire That Saved the Forest by Mike Donahue. Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 2002. When Bernie the bear and his other animal cohorts make a practice of extinguishing every fire that starts in the forest, they realize that the trees are choking out open meadows and not allowing berry bushes and other foods they depend on to grow.

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French. Amulet Books, 2009. This book tells the story of Julian Carter-Li and his friends as they race to stop Julian’s uncle and his company from cutting down some of California’s oldest redwood trees.

Redwoods by Jason Chin. Flash Point, 2009. Factual text and imaginative illustrations combine to provide a memorable picture book adventure in the redwood forest.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Harper Collins, 2014.  A story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein, has been a classic favorite for generations. (Although not about a redwood tree, this book inspired a lifelong dedication to protecting forests and our natural resources for at least one staff member)

Non-Fiction

The Ever-living Tree, the Life and Times of a Coast Redwood by Linda Vieira. Walker, 1994. The two-thousand-year life story of a redwood tree is chronicled with illustrations by Christopher Canyon.

Extreme Scientists: Exploring Nature’s Mysteries from Perilous Places by Donna M. Jackson. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. One of the three extreme scientists profiled here is Stephen Sillett, who does research in the canopies of the tallest redwood trees.

In the Company of Redwoods by David Casterson. Natural Sight Press, 2014. An interactive guide to learning 50 Redwood community plants.

Seabird in the Forest: The Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet by Joan Dunning. Boyds Mills Press, 2011. In this exquisitely illustrated book that won the Science Books & Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books, Joan Dunning presents the amazing story of the marbled murrelet based on dramatic facts uncovered in the last few decades.

Tall Tall Tree by Anthony D. Fredericks. Dawn Publications, 2017. Tony Frederick’s playful rhyme makes this a book young children will want to look at and listen to again and again, while early readers will enjoy reading it on their own.

Welcome to Redwood National and State Parks by M.J. Cosson. The Child’s World, 2007. This photo tour of northern California state and national parks introduces redwood trees in their ecosystem.

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