Monday, June 13, 2016

Kids' Nonfiction Books for Exploring The Great Outdoors

June is Great Outdoors Month. On top of that, it is also the month when many libraries will be kicking off their On Your Mark, Get Set, Read! summer reading programs, which will focus on exercise, play, and enjoying nature. Therefore, this is the perfect time to highlight a few books to help kids get excited about being outside.

The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry
Edited by J. Patrick Lewis 
2015; National Geographic

This comprehensive collection of nature poems is beautifully illustrated with amazing National Geographic photographs. Though some of the poems were old favorites of mine ("The Pasture" by Robert Frost, "maggie and milly and molly and may" by E.E. Cummings, and "To Make a Prairie" by Emily Dickinson, etc.), there are also lots of lovely pieces which were previously unknown to me. There are ten sections all together, and the categories make it very easy to find a poem to suit a particular theme, such as the sky, the sea, or the forest We used this book on our very first poetry picnic, and it has become one of our go-to poetry books.

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A.
by Sarah Wassner Flyyn and Julie Beer
February 9, 2016; National Geographic

This book is a great resource for families, and a fun read for upper elementary audiences. Maps, fun facts, and full-color photos show all the beauty and excitement of America's National Parks. This would be a great companion to take along on a family vacation during which you might pass by or stop at any of the parks, but it's equally perfect for armchair traveling, and for helping kids appreciate the beauty of different areas of our country. There is also a companion book for adults: National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States. 

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World
by Julia Rothman, with help from John Niekrasz
2015; Storey Publishing

We received this book as a Christmas gift from my sister, and it was a pleasant surprise. It's basically a collection of illustrations of various natural phenomena. Types of clouds, the differences between snowflakes, kinds of feathers, water bugs, and the anatomy of a fern are just a few of the many topics explored by illustrator Julia Rothman. Though the book is not really directed at children, it definitely appeals to Miss Muffet, who finds something new to be excited about every time she flips through it. It;s a versatile book, with equal appeal to toddlers and middle schoolers, that will be a great companion on hikes and other outdoor excursions.

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Mark Hearld 
February 2012;  Candlewick

This collection of simple poems, geared toward ages three to seven, provides a basic introduction to the world of a child's own backyard. Davies's poetry describes everything from squirrels and bees to tracks in the snow and worms in the rain. Though the text is decent, it is the illustrations that are truly evocative. The pictures fill the page with vibrant colors which evoke the four seasons and the weather associated with each. Miss Muffet was less than two when we borrowed this book from the library, and she loved poring over the pictures. We never did finish reading the text, but it was still a great way to introduce the basics of the natural world.

I received review copies of National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry and National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A. from the publisher.
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