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A list of favorite rainbow books was a natural next step after reviewing springtime and weather books for kids. Rainbows are an incredible way to inspire outdoor exploration, spark interest in STEM concepts, or teach about social-emotional concepts. Let these rainbow books guide those lessons.
How do you teach a rainbow to preschoolers?
Rainbows happen when sunlight shines through raindrops. The raindrop acts like a prism and separates and bends the many colors of the sunlight.
Once preschoolers learn the colors, they are ready for color patterns like a rainbow’s pattern. The science behind a rainbow can be complex for preschoolers. Rainbows by Martha E. H. Rustad does a great job describing the science of a rainbow in a developmentally-appropriate way.
For hands-on rainbow activities, children can use prisms to explore sunbeams or spray water outdoors on a sunny day. Use the rainbow books on this list to spark children’s interest in rainbows!
What can children learn From a rainbow?
Children can learn about STEM concepts such as light, reflection, color, weather, and nature.
But if creating this book list has taught me anything, it’s that rainbows are a meaningful symbol for us humans. Rainbows represent joy, luck, pride, happy tomorrows, hope, and community.
The Little Raindrop
By Joanna Gray, illustrated by Dubravka Kolanovic
A little raindrop character takes readers through the adventure of the water cycle. Near the story’s beginning, we see the raindrop fall through a rainbow. This story introduces science concepts such as weather, physics, and biology. Readers will discover how a rainbow, or even a single raindrop, is connected to the rest of our world. Sidenote, the illustrations in this story are so cozy and adorable.
Explore more rain books for early learners.
By Martha E. H. Rustad
This nonfiction rainbow book for kids includes vibrant, real photographs of rainbows. The text, images, and glossary help explain the science of rainbows in a developmentally-appropriate way. This book is a must-have for a homeschool or classroom lesson plan on rainbows!
How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow
By Monica Sweeney, illustrated by Feronia Parker-Thomas
In this story, Sun and Cloud aren’t getting along. That means the colorful rainbows are vanishing and taking all the colors too. The crayons have to save the rainbow to save the day. Find out how the crayons help the old friends make up. Readers will love the doodle-style illustrations in this rainbow children’s book.
The Hidden Rainbow
By Christie Matheson
Follow along as the bees explore a rainbow of flowers and plants. The rainbow of flowers helps feed the bees, and in return, the bees help produce colorful produce. Along with the names and characteristics of flowers, readers will learn about the relationship between bees and plants. This book is a bright, fun way to talk about nature in our own backyards.
- Explore our favorite books about bees.
Planting a Rainbow
By Lois Ehlert
Discover the colors of bulbs and blossoms. Early learners can follow along as a flower garden is planted. The textured collage illustrations show a rainbow of plants. Children can learn colors, along with the names of each flower.
Rainbows in Bloom: Discovering Colors with Flowers
By Taylor Putnam & Michael Putnam
The authors use photographs of flowers to share the full spectrum of the rainbow. Children can explore full-page flower arrangements on the fold-out pages. Along the way, the text prompts readers to answer questions or search-and-find. This rainbow book is one that you will return to again and again.
Find more flower ideas:
By Yusuke Yonezu
Rainbow Chameleon is an interactive spin-the-wheel book about colors, camouflage, and rainbows. Young readers can help the main character hide from predators by blending in with the surroundings. The book also includes pull tabs and a “colors of the rainbow” matching activity!
Spike, The Penguin With Rainbow Hair
By Sarah Cullen & Carmen Ellis, illustrated by Zuzana Svobodova
This book may have a silly premise but shares an important message. Standing out shouldn’t stop you from loving and accepting yourself. Spike was born with rainbow hair. He tries different ways to hide his look. Soon though, Spike is “strutting his stuff,” setting an example for others to do the same.
- Explore more penguin books.
The Last Rainbow Bird
By Nora Brech, illustrated by Polly Lawson
This adventure story is about a quest to find the last rainbow bird. While the story and illustrations feel “otherworldly,” the message about protecting animals applies to our real world. Early learners will enjoy the rainbow of colors throughout the book. This story is a great way to discuss colors, birds, and protecting endangered animals.
By Roger Priddy
This classic rainbow board book has been updated! Follow Rob the penguin as they explore the colors of the animal kingdom. Along the way, early learners can explore textures and fun rhymes. The book’s message is about discovering and loving yourself the way you are. The text of this book is catchy! You and your children will repeat it long after you’re done reading.
What Makes a Rainbow?: A Magic Ribbon Book
By Betty Ann Schwartz, illustrated by Dona Turner
This is another board book that was a favorite in my toddler classroom once upon a time. Ribbons stream through the pages to create a 3D rainbow. Each page includes a poem describing each color in nature. This book is more of a novelty, and the illustrations are not my favorite on this list. But I can be sure that children will reach for it on the bookshelf again and again.
Never Look for a Chameleon!
By Rosie Greening, illustrated by Stuart Lynch
This silly sensory board book mixes rainbows and reptiles! Follow along with the rhyming text in search of a camouflaged chameleon. Readers will adventure to the end of the rainbow to see if they can find that color-changing chameleon! The textured silicone and cut-outs make this a fun book to add to a rainbow lesson plan.
Over the Rainbow
By Eric Puybaret
When I started this book list, I was on a quest for a children’s book based on the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow. This rainbow book does an incredible job of bringing the lyrics of a favorite song to life. The illustrations are whimsical and unlike any other books on this list. Educators can use this book as part of a musical rainbow activity.
Rain, Rain, Go Away!
By Caroline Jayne Church
This full-foil board book is based on a beloved nursery rhyme. Sing along and see how the rainy weather affects the children’s mood. Soon sunnier skies and a bright rainbow show up to improve the children’s day. It’s impossible not to love this book’s adorable and metallic illustrations.
Singing in the Rain
By Tim Hopgood
Singing in the Rain takes a broadway song and turns it into a springtime, rainbow children’s book. The musical, rhyming lyrics introduce basic weather concepts. The colorful illustrations present opportunities to talk about rainbows, dressing for the weather, and animals.
Colors & Concepts
By Donald Crews
When I was a toddler teacher, one of my kids could not eat, nap, or play outdoors without this book by their side. That means I’ll always have my own attachment to this book.
Freight Train is the story of a traveling train made of a rainbow of train cars. The story is a quick, simple read. But it can inspire conversations about colors, travel, and terrain. Look out for the bilingual version in English and Spanish!
A Rainbow of Rocks
By Kate Depalma
A Rainbow of Rocks is an introductory geology book for early learners. The book introduces basic facts about rocks and minerals using fun rhymes. The colorful, real photographs absolutely pop against each page’s black background. Find even more information about these rainbow rocks at the back of the book.
Bake a Rainbow Cake!
By Amirah Kassem
This adorable interactive book explores rainbows and baking. Readers can follow the sequence of steps to bake a rainbow cake. A spinning wheel, lift flaps, and pull tabs add a fun sensory experience to the story. Let the book inspire fun recipes or new ways to add rainbows to favorite activities.
By Words & Pictures, illustrated by Juliana Perdomo
This curved, layered rainbow board book lets readers explore the shapes and sizes of rainbows’ stripes. Each page explores a different color using bouncy, fun rhymes. The bold graphics are fun and are perfect for an easy search-and-find activity. The story ends with an empowering message about inclusion and community.
You Are Light
By Aaron Becker
This book is a beautiful way to teach children about the relationship between light, color, and nature. A ring of colorful circles is cut out through the book, adding texture and sensory to each page. Readers can match the colors in illustrations to the rainbow circles. You are Light is a sweet, poetic book and one of my favorites on our list.
Love this book? Check out Becker’s other book My Favorite Color: I Can Only Pick One?
Rain Before Rainbows
By Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illustrated by David Litchfield
This rainbow book has something for readers of all ages. The lyrical text shares messages about hope, overcoming obstacles, and brighter days ahead. The dreamy, luminescent illustrations in Rain Before Rainbows are out-of-this-world gorgeous. Some pages are bright and cheerful; others are eerier. The forest setting and companion fox bring a lovely woodland vibe that I’ll forever be a sucker for.
The Rainbow Book
By Kate Ohrt
The Rainbow Book uses colors to help children connect to their emotions. This book is incredibly unique because the pages have ornate cut-out designs. The sturdy, layered pages then create a 3D experience. I love that this book also validates that some days are just “black and white” for us.
Black Is a Rainbow Color
By Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Black Is a Rainbow Color introduces readers to Black culture using familiar early learning concepts like colors and rainbows. The author, Angela Joy, describes the book as “a celebration of all things black, both colorful and cultural.” Throughout this poetic book, the author references important moments in Black history. Parents and educators can find descriptions of these events, plus an accompanying playlist, at the end of the book.
Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed)
By Ged Adamson
In this fantastical story, early learners can imagine what would happen if a rainbow decided to stay. This rainbow book gives a fascinating look at human behavior and humans’ relationship with nature. Readers can identify with the emotions of our two main characters, Ava and her rainbow friend. This rainbow story is the perfect balance of silly and bittersweet. I highly recommend it.
There Is a Rainbow
By Grant Snider & Theresa Trinder
“On the other side of a storm, there is a rainbow.” With colored-pencil illustrations and uplifting text, this book shares an important message with readers. There Is a Rainbow was inspired by the uncertainties of 2020. But the heartwarming message of the story is always important. This rainbow book introduces concepts of community and overcoming hard times.
The World Made a Rainbow
By Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Emily Hamilton
The World Made a Rainbow is another rainbow book inspired by 2020. This story shares the message that rainbows follow rainstorms. It also introduces ways children can cope with emotions like loneliness, worry, and uncertainty. This book also includes cheerful illustrations and rhyming text.
Family & Friends
A Day So Gray
By Marie Lamba, illustrated by Alea Marley
Rainbows are a rare sight, but readers learn to find a new perspective in this book. In A Day So Gray, two friends explore the wintery outdoors, but one is disappointed in the dreary, gray scene. The other friend points out the rainbow of colors along the way. This book may be better for those days you’re hoping for a rainbow but need to look a little closer at nature to find the color and joy.
- Discover more books about exploring the outdoors.
A Rainbow of My Own
By Don Freeman
In this imaginative story, a child befriends a rainbow. They spend a day playing together, but eventually, the rainbow leaves (as all rainbows do). This sweet story is a perfect companion for a lesson or rainbow activity. Extend the book by exploring ways to make rainbows indoors using light and reflections.
By Robin Stevenson
Pride Colors focuses on the meaning of each color in a rainbow flag. The book emphasizes love, acceptance, joy, and pride using rhyming text. The book includes happy, loving photographs of diverse families. This book is excellent for starting developmentally-appropriate conversations and adding more representation to a home or classroom bookshelf.
- Discover more diverse & inclusive board books.
How Do You Make a Rainbow?
By Caroline Crowe
This multi-generational story follows a child and her grandfather on a dreary, rainy day. Each page is illustrated to highlight one color of a rainbow and what the color represents. The text sweetly describes the importance of kindness, family, community, and hope. This book gets extra points for its inclusive illustrations.
Raindrops to Rainbow
By John Micklos, illustrated by Charlene Chua
Rainy days can feel gloomy, and it is okay to wish for sunnier skies. Raindrops to Rainbow helps early learners explore how the weather can affect our emotions. The story also gives children ideas on how to cope with those emotions. I love that the rhyming text in this book is full of sensory words. Plus, the illustrations are charming, warm, and adorable.
- Find this book and more on our favorite weather books list.
That’s all 30 rainbow books for you! Somewhere on this list, I hope you collected a few book titles for your next weather lesson plan or nature-based storytime. Enjoy!
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