According to a recent study from the Journal of Sociological Inquiry, an emphasis on nature in illustrated children’s books has declined over the past few decades, and today’s generation of children is losing an understanding and appreciation of nature. You can read NWF’s original blog post about that finding here.
This is why I was pleased to see that the Horn Book’s 2012 Summer Reading List for Children includes a number of books that foster a connection with nature. The Horn Book has been around since 1924 and publishes a magazine that reviews the best children’s books. Below are several summer reading recommendations that are sure to inspire your kids to spend time outdoors:
- Coral Reefs by Jason Chin – imaginative blend of fiction and nonfiction
- The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock – Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and our National Park System – engaging, accessible picture book version of the story
- Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld – the food chains and food webs in our backyard
- Stars by Mary Lyn Ray – beautiful and evocative
- A Stick Is An Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer - Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
- Friends: Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley – for younger readers, introduces desert setting and animals
- Cork & Fuzz: The Swimming Lesson by Dori Chaconas – outdoor play with a muskrat and opossum
- Citizen Scientists: Be Part of the Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns
- Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage by Sophie Webb
- The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall – celebration of sisters at play by the sea
These books are available on Amazon, and if you use the links above, a portion of the purchase will be given to the National Wildlife Federation. For additional resources, NWF’s Be Out There program has fun outdoor play ideas, and reading NWF’s Ranger Rick magazine is one of the best ways to introduce kids to the wonders of nature.
What books do your little ones like that inspire outside play?
Mary Burnette is Associate Director of Communications for the National Wildlife Federation. In that capacity she talks to the media about the importance of giving kids outdoor play time so they can reap the benefits of being outside with Mom Nature. Mary is a mother of two sons who love nothing better than exploring the outdoors and creating their own wildlife adventures. She thinks she has read “Where the Wild Things Are” to her boys at least 100 times!
National Wildlife Federation® (NWF) is America’s largest conservation organization, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. NWF unites individuals from diverse backgrounds through a grassroots network of 4 million members, supporters and volunteers. NWF programs educate and inspire people from all walks of life to seek solutions to global warming, protect wildlife and wildlife habitat, and connect children to nature.