Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Books that Inspire Nature Explorations

We came, we hiked, we conquered...

Well, not quite, but the boys sure felt like they had with a few small battle bumps and bruises to show for it!

After a morning of hiking, the kids had no trouble falling asleep tonight!  It was a beautiful day for a hike - hovering in the 70's the entire morning!!!  Of course, I wasn't liberal enough with the sunscreen for myself and I'm nursing my first sunburn of the year.

I love how quiet it is when you get out...  Treyton (the three-year old) was on the verge of petering out about 45 minutes into our hike, so I stayed behind with him, while the others forged ahead.  What an opportunity to sit and listen.  We heard bees, some interesting bird calls and simply the sound of the wind whipping around the rock outcroppings! 

The kids loved playing afterwards and experimenting with touching this barrel cactus.  We've been out enough that they know which kinds of cactus they can do this with and what kinds they can't. 
(Oops, forgot to take my camera off of blk&wh mode.)

Before I haul this poor sun-drenched pregnant body off to bed, I wanted to share a few of our favorite books that inspire nature explorations.  If you have any favorites, I'd love to hear about those as well!!!

Picture Books

The Listening Walk
The Listening Walk ~ I found this book last year when we were learning about the 5 senses.  It is a beautiful example of using our sense of hearing when out for a walk.  While not completely 'nature' focused, it was still a compelling story about honing observation skills and noticing sounds around us!

I Took a Walk
I Took a Walk  ~ The boys are just in love with this book which invites the reader to observe and discover wildlife hidden on each page.  They love to see how many animals they can spot.  I just noticed that the author has several related books and we are eager to check out On the Way to the Beach and On Meadowview Street.

A Walk in the Woods ~ I just love this book.  We don't have 'woods' here, but we get to experience that when we head up to northern Arizona each summer to escape the desert heat and on trips back to the Midwest to visit family.  It is a magical book about the beauties of exploring the variety that the great outdoors has to offer!

Birdwatchers ~ My kids loved this magical book when we were learning about birds last spring.  It inspired them to spontaneously go out and try creative birdwatching for themselves and encouraged me to just take the boys out and explore.  I'm intrigued to try Wild Woods by the same author.  I'm hoping we can find it in our library before we make a trip up to any 'wild woods' this summer!

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! ~ This is such a practical book, especially if you are new to nature walking.  It is a story about a mother bear and her cub who go out during the various seasons and explore leaves and the changes they go through.  It is just brimming with all kinds of ideas that will surely spark a few nature walks of your own!

Leaf Man (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))
Leaf Man~ I pretty much love everything that Lois Ehlert does.  She always has a way of inspiring creativity and ingenuity both in myself and my children.  This book is no exception.  It would be a perfect companion for fall explorations.

Look What I Did with a Leaf! (Naturecraft)
Look What I Did with a Leaf! (Naturecraft) ~ This book is similar to the above one and inspires kids to utilize leaves to create works of art!  It seemed a little complicated last year for my rough and tumble boys, but we plan on picking it up from the library again this fall!
The Tale of Peter Rabbit: Commemorative Edition (Potter)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit or The World of Peter Rabbit (The Original Peter Rabbit, Books 1-23, Presentation Box) ~ There is nothing quite like Beatrix Potter's nature infused stories.  It makes me want to go out and see if we can find many of the animal friends that she so beautifully draws and tells us about!

Who Pooped in the Sonoran Desert? - Scat and Tracks for Kids

Who Pooped in the Sonoran Desert? - Scat and Tracks for Kids  ~ I can't decide whether to include this book here or as a 'field guide', so I'm going back and adding it to the last post as well.  My kids just love this book.  It is about a family who stops on a drive through our desert and look for signs of various animals that live here.  After reading this book last year, we set out to see what we could find.  We had a blast!  There is a whole series out covering various regions and national parks around the country.  I just love that this website has a map of the U.S.  We will definitely be picking up more of these as we travel more!
Chapter Books
The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh
The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh ~ Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends seem to always be off on some kind of an adventure, from expeditions to playing pooh sticks.  We've read these classics through several times already.  Great read-alouds from the youngest on up to mom and dad!

My Side of the Mountain (Puffin Modern Classics)
My Side of the Mountain ~ This was a childhood favorite of mine that always inspired me to enjoy the outdoors and learn how to be quiet and observant!

Parent Resource Books

Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning : A Story for Mother Culture ®
Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning : A Story for Mother Culture ® ~ I actually haven't read this yet, but it is on my wish list of books to eventually read...  I've loved Karen's Andreola's

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder~ This book is full of lots of research and an appeal to preserve time for your children to play in and explore the great outdoors - specifically 'wild' or 'mostly-wild' places.

I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature ~ Wonderful, wonderful book!

Related Posts in this Nature Walking Series:
Part 1: Why Nature Walks?
Part 2: Some Potential How To's
Part 3: Nature Walking: Resources


  1. Heather! I love reading your blog! You are such an inspiration! Those last two " adult" books are two of my favorite. I am reading a book right now, the Power of Play and kinda along those same lines- let children explore. I love your ideas and all your energy. Your family is so blessed!

  2. Amanda, That is a FABULOUS book! I just love how there is so much research from so many perspectives that encourage free play and exploration in children!

  3. Beautiful This is the kind of mom-ness that always leaves me in awe. Just awe. And of course – being mom – you took care of everyone else and left yourself unprotected – this time from the Sun. Typical. And all those books – they don’t come just by chance – but by experience – more mom-ness – beautiful .I’ll shoot over and add my first vote right now….done and done…God Bless and keep you and all of yours. I really hearted this post Heather. Thank you.

  4. Before the girls and I took our trip to the Grand Canyon last winter, I checked out Who Pooped in the Grand Canyon for them to read. Even though we never actually SAW any poop, they still loved it!

  5. Thank you for this great list! We've linked to you here: