Ten Beloved Children’s Authors Write About NatureLaure Latham
February 17, 2012
Want kids to connect with nature? They need to learn to love it first and any of these books will help you to plan your next nature exploration. When nature books are so good that they get made into a feature-length movie or stick with your child's memory through the years, the author's achieved something quite special.
By connecting with a child's imagination, the story becomes an excuse to go out and observe the world. Rather than stopping on the last page of the book, it lives on in children's minds as a question or a passion to be nurtured—maybe a family trip in the near future? Read on, enjoy and get out!
Dr. Seuss and The Lorax
"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." The last words of the Once-ler in The Lorax are some of the most powerful words in environmental education. Kids have got to care to protect what they love and this tale of a wonderful world gone wrong is a great way to introduce concepts such as ecosystem, change, sustainability or mindless progress. Read together at night, talk about it, watch the movie and sign up for Earth Day activities near your home!
Kate Messner and Over and Under the Snow
Do you ever wonder what goes on around you in nature? How about peeking behind the scenes? In Over and Under the Snow, a dad and his daughter go skiing in a wintry landscape. Under the snow where eyes cannot see them, the animals of the forest are surviving or hibernating in their own ways. The juxtaposition of two worlds, above and under, will spark numerous questions that you can take outside and apply to your own environment. Simpler yet, read this book before planning a snow trip and try to find animal clues in winter landscapes - real world I Spy!
Lois Ehlert and Leaf Man
Autumn leaves becomes nature art in Leaf Man, a book where author and illustrator Lois Ehlert fashions a man with a body of leaves and acorn eyes. Leaving his backyard to wander with the wind, Leaf Man travels a countryside also made of leaves. Simple in simple words, the story will surely inspire a craft project at home. For a winter read, check out Lois Ehlert's Snowballs, a beautiful book about winter!
Jane Yolen and Owl Moon
A wonderful father-daughter book, Owl Moon is one of Jane Yolen's most famous books and a reference book for teachers and librarians. When a little girl goes out at night with her dad in the woods, she's going owling for the first time. The pair will walk through the snowy woods and imitate an owl's call to attract a real owl. In her family, it's a child rite of passage and you will love the subtle emotions going through the girl's head. During the experience, she discovers the importance of quiet, the presence of nocturnal animals but also the solitude of a walk in the dark. After this elegant and inspiring story, take your kids owling in your area and have them compare their experience.
Margriet Ruurs and When We Go Camping
A perfect read for a summer trip, When We Go Camping follows a family in the woods on a camping trip. Exploring is the name of the game and the family's children do it with delight. From discovering animal tracks to foraging for berries, stargazing to making a fire, these kids are having the time of their life in total wilderness. For your next or first camping experience, this book will inspire children to go out and explore the natural world.
Mem Fox and Koala Lou
In Koala Lou, beloved children's author Mem Fox writes a tale of love set in the Australian outback. When Koala Lou becomes an older sibling and his mom takes care of the baby, he thinks that his mom doesn't love him anymore. To attract his mom's attention, he signs up for the Bush Olympics in the tree-gum climbing category. Adventures ensue and the confirmation that moms love their children no matter what. This sweet book combines the emotional struggles of an older sibling with the exotic Australian landscapes.
Eric Carle and Mr. Seahorse
Though it's hard to pick a favorite from the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?, Mr. Seahorse has everything a book needs to become a children's classic. A simple story, gorgeous collage illustrations and surprise hide-and-seek pages make the book a great read for all ages. While older readers will focus on the special role of dads in the seahorse world, younger kids will love the colorful aquatic world and hiding games.
Doreen Cronin and Diary of a Fly
Humor and nature facts have never worked so well as when a young fly keeps an upbeat diary of her young life. While the fly wants to be a superhero, she's worried she doesn't have what it takes. Fortunately her friends Worm and Spider come to the rescue. Diary of a Fly works great for preschoolers who will learn science facts about the world flies while laughing out loud. It's also a book they'll revisit once they are in grade school and relate to the school activities such as the "All About Me" poster.
Diana Hutts Aston and A Butterfly Is Patient
By the author of the popular A Seed Is Sleepy and An Egg Is Quiet, A Butterfly Is Patient is the perfect companion to a walk in nature to discover your local butterflies and their life cycle. Learning fun science facts about the winged animals, kids will love the exquisite illustrations by Sylvia Long. This book will also appeal to older children with an interest in the natural world. Next time you go out on a hike, look for butterflies!
Laurel Snyder and Good Night, Laila Tov
On a camping vacation that takes a Jewish family from the coastal sand dunes of the Oceanside to the green rolling hills of the countryside, two children discover the joys of sleeping away from home. Told in lulling rhyming verse, Good Night, Laila Tov is a book that will get small children excited about summer days and the endless nature experiences ahead of them.