Whether it’s a jumping off point for an activity, something for a participant to engage in if they’ve finished their art project early, or perhaps just a resource for our staff to inspire their own time in nature, we love to use children’s books in our program. In recognition of this important month, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite children’s books with nature themes.
As we are heading into the winter season, we’ll start with some winter-themed books.
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner: This is one of our very favorite winter books. We start just about any snowshoe visit in the winter by reading this book, as it has very interesting info on what animals do in the winter woven seamlessly into the pictures and words in the book itself. When we then go on the trail into the woods, the students often wonder aloud what is going on underneath the snow.
The Mitten by Jan Brett: This is one of those classic winter books almost everyone has a copy of on their shelf. The best part about this book, though, is that it lends itself very easily to dramatic play. Do you have a white sheet? You have your own mitten big enough to hold all the animals. You can work with your young people to outfit them as the different animals, and then present the book as a play, with the students as the animals.
Of course, if you’re looking for books for other seasons, you have plenty of options too.
Fandex Family Guide to Trees: While not a book per se, the Fandex guidebooks are favorites of ours for self-exploration. There are pictures on top, with information below, and children can easily flip through, identifying what they are looking at easily using the picture on top. The guide to trees is our favorite, but there are Fandex guides to birds, insects, wildflowers, even Star Wars!
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli: We often use this playful, entertaining book as a quick read-aloud to bring campers into our garden in the summer. It is a great catalyst to a conversation about what plants need to grow and thrive.
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin: A great introduction to composting and decomposers, this book can be read aloud, but is just as good left on a table for a child to read on her own after she finishes a project.
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis: Introducing creative play into your home or group? This book is less about nature and more about infusing imagination into all that you do. Perhaps your youth are having a hard time seeing their stick structure as a fort? This book, and its counterpart Not a Stick, can certainly get them thinking outside the box.
How the World Works by Christian Dorian and Beverly Young: A pop-up book, this is the perfect curiosity inspiring free-time book. Perhaps best not used with a whole group at once, a student could easily lose himself flipping up each of the informative panels on this book for an hour.