Our family loves outdoor adventure, whether it is a hike through the woods or stomping in puddles in the park. We love to experience new things on our own, but we also enjoy snuggling up together and living vicariously through a good book. Here are some of our favorite books about outdoor adventures:
1. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
This classic book has predictable, repetitive text, but an exciting story line. A family is looking for a bear, and when they finally find it, they retrace their steps through the forest, mud, and grass and into their home. Toddlers and young preschoolers will surely enjoy it. It is also fun to reenact the story outside using hand motions. It’s a popular camp chant that I remember saying when I was a camp counselor in college. Here is a YouTube video of the author performing the words to the book.
2. The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
This is another classic book for preschoolers. A little girl is taking a walk with her father and her dog. They listen to the various sounds they encounter on their walk. When I want my children to notice something as we are hiking, I will say, “Shh…let’s take a listening walk for a few minutes.” It is truly amazing what you hear when you really concentrate on listening. My children were excited when they heard the squirrels “talking” to each other on our last hike.
3. Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire! by Jane O’Connor
I could kiss Jane O’Connor. I really could. She has created such a spunky character in Fancy Nancy. Nancy loves to dress up, but she is not afraid of bugs or getting dirty. She loves exploring the natural world and gives direct advice to readers by offering a list of things to bring exploring, ideas on making a fort, and guidelines for exploring. Older preschoolers and elementary school girls will adore (that’s fancy for LOVE) this book!
4. Stars by Mary Lyn Ray
This is one of the best new books I’ve read this year. While its focus is on stargazing, the narrator points out other things like dandelion seeds and snowflakes, that look like stars. The illustrations are gorgeous and will certainly want to make your preschool or elementary-aged child go stargazing after you’ve read it.
5. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
This book won the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book in 1988, and it is easy to see why. It is illustrated using a bird’s-eye view of a child and her father who are “owling”, looking for owls at night. My children and I have never tried owling, but this book is the inspiration for one of the new experiences I have planned for later this year.
6. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
This was one of my favorite books as a child, and that may be the reason my children ask me to read this book over and over. They love thinking about their mom as a young girl. One part I love is when the main character makes tracks in the snow with his feet and then drags a stick in the snow. These are great things to try whether you are making tracks in snow, sand, or dirt. Kids love observing the different lines they make!
7. I Love Bugs by Philemon Sturges
Preschoolers will like the simple, bright illustrations of this picture book. Most children are interested in bugs. Maintain their attitude of curiosity by reading books that portray insects and spiders in a positive light. After reading this book, go on a bug safari in your own backyard and see what you can find.
8. Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies
My six-year-old son loves this book about bats who spend a night at the beach. The bats’ experience at the beach is very much like a human’s trip to the beach, but my son finds it hilarious that they need “moon tan lotion”. After reading this book, a trip to the beach is definitely in order. You can compare your day at the beach to the bats’ night at the beach.
9. Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman
This is another book with a strong female child as the main character. A little girl is dressed like a ladybug and finds ways to amuse herself outside when the rest of her family is too busy to play with her. As parents, we often want to direct our children’s activities. Sometimes we need to let them just go outside and explore a bit on their own. Just like Ladybug Girl, they may discover ant hills and old logs can be entertaining.
10. Who Pooped in the Park? series by Gary D. Robson
What kid doesn’t like to talk about poop? Instead of reprimanding them for using potty talk, teach them the scientific term for animal poop (scat). This series of books are narrative stories about a family visiting a national parks. Elementary school aged children will be surprised how much naturalists, scientists, and even hikers can learn about animals just by looking at their scat. After reading one of these books, you can certainly visit the national park where it takes place. If that is not possible, take a hike on local trails and see if you can find scat.
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