Our members have shared many books about nature with us. We thought it would be helpful to compile one comprehensive list of our nature-themed books for you! Use this list at the library, for gifts, or to share with friends and family!
A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature by Asia Citro
Need inspiration to go play outside or to get your little ones excited about a hike? Try an activity from this awesome book! From mud faces to rain drums, this book provides easy, inexpensive and fun activities to do with your kids in nature. One thing I love about this resource is that they offer simple ideas (great for toddlers and preschoolers) with ways to add on to the activity for older kids. Additionally, we’ve used this resource for our Hike it Baby hikes. We have also found fun ways to explore our own backyard.
BACKPACKER ABCS BY HEATHER LEGLER
Backpacker ABCs is a great way to introduce your young ones to adventures in backpacking, and it encourages them to “Hike your own hike.” Whether or not you want to backpack with young children, this book is a great way to introduce this adventure to your child. From packing up the car to a quote from John Muir, this book will show young hikers all the beauty that a backpacking trip can offer. Filled with beautiful illustrations and rhyme, Backpacker ABCs makes an excellent read aloud for children from birth through preschool and beyond.
For free printables, coloring book, read-along video, and parent and teacher resources, visit backpackerABCs.com.
Author Heather Legler is also the host of The First 40 Miles, a podcast especially for those new to backpacking.
The Barefoot Book of Earth Poems by Judith Nicholls
This is a beautifully illustrated collection of poems that celebrates our wonderful planet. Some poem themes include respecting nature, conservation and how to celebrate its beauty.
Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd
This enchanting picture book explores the question, “What is wild”? With bright and lively illustrations, the author takes us on a journey of all things wild and entices us to find it for ourselves. This book is perfect to bring on any outdoor exploration of your own with your little wild-lings.
Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel by Paul Meise
Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel is a beautifully illustrated story about a bat and a squirrel who learn to share a home together. At first the duo have a hard time communicating clearly and living together. But after several days, they sort their differences and learn to enjoy each other’s company. This is a really nice book about learning to communicate clearly and being open with others who may be very different from you.
Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
Has your child ever asked what animals do at night? Little Owl’s Night helps answer this question as readers follow Little Owl through his evening of visiting friends before the morning sun shines and he has to head back home to sleep.
Different from your typical bedtime story, Little Owl’s Night does not feature rhyming or any human characters. Instead, the story takes the reader through a journey in the night forest as Little Owl observes plants and animals in the night. The story winds down as Little Owl returns to his mother and he falls asleep while she tells him a story with the sun coming up for the day.
Children will love the cute illustrations on each page, and older children can have conversations with you about how the night forest is different from the day forest they are accustomed to hiking. Readers can also compare their bedtime routine to how Little Owl prepares for bed.
Little Owl’s Night is available as a board book, e-book or hardcover book. Author Divya Srinivasan also has a companion book, Little Owl’s Day, if your reader wants to travel through the forest with Little Owl again!
Maple by Lori Nichols
Meet Maple. She is a spirited girl named after a tree. Maple’s parents plant a tree before she is born, and the tree becomes inspiration for her name when she enters the world. Maple shares many adventures with her tree, which vary depending on the season. As Maple grows, so does her tree. Seasons go by and Maple is presented with a surprise. Her life is enriched by its new addition and Maple uses her tree to practice sharing.
Maple is a great book that connects childhood to becoming an older sibling. Try reading the book and planting a tree and observe its growth to bring the book to life!
Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
A stick is a stick … until you use your imagination. Anything can happen when a stick is discovered, from fishing poles to battle swords. This book is short and to the point. An easy read for preschoolers. After reading, head to the trails to find out what else a stick can be.
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
A cold and snowy day calls for snuggling in blankets with a good book. Over and Under the Snow is a great book to read with your little ones when the weather is a bit too cold for outside adventures or before bed after a long day of exploring.
With beautiful illustrations and well-crafted words that appeal to all the senses, Over and Under the Snow is a wonderful book to help children learn about how animals survive during the cold, snowy months of winter.
The book follows a boy and his father on a cross-country ski trip, and the father shares his knowledge of the secret kingdom of the animals in the winter. “Tracks always tell a story,” the dad tells his boy. The illustrations show what is happening both above and underground, allowing the reader to really take in what happens in the winter.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
A wonderful family classic story/spoken word poem about a family wandering the world around them searching for a bear, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is visual as well as auditory. Just reading the story is enjoyable with kids of all ages. The story is experiential with the sound and motion words, creating a world for children. Even if you’ve never felt snow or mud, the descriptions help you understand and use your senses to feel what the characters are experiencing. When you add in motions and play along with the story, this becomes a full-body experience! We love going on a bear hunt at the park or on our local hikes to act out the story. It is so much fun inside and outside!
Pond by Jim LaMarche
From the striking illustrations to the lyrical text, this book covers all the bases for me as a reader. The young boy, Matt, and his friends, Pablo and Katie, restore a pond that had a lot of garbage in it. The book speaks to the power of the young to change the world in a positive way. It also shows how the connections we have with nature deepen when we care for it. This book does have a lot of text, so it’s great for our preschool-age group. The illustrations are simply breathtaking.
Rain! by Linda Ashman
In this charming and colorful book about the rain, we’re reminded that our positive attitudes (about the weather – and anything in life) can have a big impact on others. This is a fun book to read before you go out and play in the rain.
The River: An Epic Journey to the Sea by Hanako Clulow
Stunning artwork in this picture book allows children to follow a little fish’s journey down river. This book features a migration story through snow-capped mountains, frozen rivers, woodland forests to reach the sea. Follow the magical holographic fish on every page until he reaches his destination. The River allows children to explore how migration works and how other animals migrate. Perfect for a hike along a river!
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Our seeds’ journey begins in the fall. As the wind blows the flower seeds high and low, some survive and some perish. Those that survive the long winter and cold will sprout flowers in the spring and summer before the cycle begins again in fall.
In The Tiny Seed, readers follow the journey of one seed in particular as it escapes being eaten by a bird and burned by the sun. Illustrated in classic Eric Carle fashion, children will love hearing about the seed’s journey and enjoy the colorful illustrations.
Besides making a good bedtime story, reading this book before a hike may inspire young readers to look for the stages of a seed’s life cycle while on trail! No matter the season, the life of a new flower is taking place. Parents or hike hosts may also wish to plant seeds with young hikers and watch the life cycle take shape at home.
Worm Weather by Jean Taft
This book, from first-time children’s author Jean Taft, for ages 3-5, is a delight. Its premise is simple: kids and earthworms love the rain. A brother and sister gear up for play time during a rain shower (“Coat. Hat. Rain goes splat!”), only to head inside when the weather gets a bit too ominous (“Bright flash. THUNDER, CRASH!”). When the thunderstorm moves on and the sun appears, they head back outside (“Birds fly, rainbow sky!”). Worm Weather, with minimal rhyming text and fantastic illustrations by Matt Hunt, treats young readers to the wonderful world of weather by encouraging them to experience it.
Hike It Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers by Shanti Hodges
No matter where your travels take you, keep this resource handy to help you find toddler-friendly trails anywhere in the U.S. With vivid photos and recommendations provided by locals from each state’s Hike it Baby community, you’re sure to add these trails to your family’s bucket list. In addition to trail reviews, 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures also provides tips for families, such as how to use the restroom on trail, nursing during a hike, making homemade granola bars and inspirational stories from families who also share the love of the outdoors.
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