INSIDE: The Best Read-Aloud Nature Stories + Reference Books
Learning about nature can be as easy as reading a fabulous picture book, but digging a little deeper with nature topics doesn’t have to be complicated either.
We all want our kids to feel encouraged to learn on their own and, as discussed in our post about benefits of nature study, to learn to think and explore and discover for themselves the way that Miss Stacy from Anne of Green Gables inspired her students to do.
So once we’ve read those gorgeous picture books about nature with our kids and instilled an appreciation for nature study and exploring, what’s the next step? How do we move from appreciation to something deeper without getting stuck in dull, uninspiring textbooks?
We suggest reading fun, well-written stories with your kids that teach them more about nature topics.
Here are a few favorites.
The nature stories by Thornton W. Burgess are delightful and full of fun, quirky animal characters. Most chapters are short and sweet, which makes these stories easy to pick up and read aloud every so often throughout your week or at bedtime. You’ll find yourself having to say things like “lipperty-lipperty-lip scampered Peter Rabbit,” but I promise it’s worth it.
Thornton W. Burgess was a prolific writer during his lifetime and has many stories from which to choose. These are a few collections to get you started.
Parents, teachers, and young readers all over the world have enthusiastically welcomed the Dover reprints of Thornton Burgess's classic nature books, including the perennial bestseller, The Adventures of Peter Cottontail. In the present volume, the author's goal of introducing children to the fascinating subject of bird life is brilliantly realized in story fashion.More info →
Familiar Burgess characters Danny Meadow Mouse, Jimmy Skunk, and Reddy Fox explore every nook and cranny of the shoreline and learn first hand about the habits and habitats of spider crabs, sea cucumbers, sand eels, and that strangest of little fishes — the sea horse.More info →
A wonderful bedtime experience as we enter the world of animals that make their home in the Green Forest. Original storys by Naturalist Thornton W. Burgess with illustrtions by Harrison Cady bring all the forest friends to life. Chapters make this an ideal bedtime reading.More info →
Children’s Animal Bedtime Story: Mother West Wind "WHERE" Stories Another exciting adventure by Thornton Burgess and illustrated by Harrison Cady brings to life those adorable woodland creatures from the Green Forest and the Green Meadows. Chapters make this an ideal bedtime book.More info →
Seed-Babies is another quirky nature story but with talking plants. Learn about botany straight from talking beans and sweet peas.
The Story Book of Science is what I’d call an acquired taste. Jean Henri Fabre was a famous French scientist known for his many books about all kinds of scientific studies. At first, his 19th-century writing translated from French can be cumbersome to read. However, once you become familiar with the style, you’ll discover a richness to these “Uncle Paul” stories and some first-rate scientific explanations to the things in the natural world. I learn something new every time I read this to my kids. (You might also be interested in a picture book biography about Jean Henri Fabre to go along with this.)
Learn all about the fascinating lives found within tide pools through the story of a hermit crab named Pagoo.
Follow a snapping turtle named Minn as she emerges from her shell and travels the Mississippi River. You’ll learn about snapping turtles, river life, and a little geography along the way.
A love of learning about nature is amplified by keeping a personal nature journal. In our picture books post about nature appreciation, we discussed the benefit of everyone having their own nature journal. This allows individual personalities to emerge in drawings, paintings, and written observations about the natural world.
There are many books that can help guide your nature study and be a reference for nature journal entries.
Here are a few of our favorites.
Nature Anatomy is becoming worn-out from weekly use. It’s always the first book off the shelf when we’re looking for nature study information or inspiration for nature drawings in our journals. Julia Rothman’s illustrations are beautiful but simple enough to attempt to recreate, and the detailed information is easy to understand.
See the world in a whole new way! Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman combines art and science in this exciting and educational guide to the structure, function, and personality of the natural world. Explore the anatomy of a jellyfish, the inside of a volcano, monarch butterfly migration, how sunsets work, and much more. An excellent book for nature journaling.More info →
The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling is an inspiring book that guides you through drawing from nature observations. Younger kids might find it challenging to follow, but it’s an excellent resource to have on hand.
Handbook of Nature Study is a reference book of epic proportions. You’ll need some room on the shelf for this thick volume. We don’t pick it up every week in my home, but it’s a fantastic resource to find detailed answers asked by budding naturalists. Each section includes lesson ideas, methods, and observation questions, if you choose to use it as a study book.
A matchless handbook for decades, this classic work has been the natural history bible for countless teachers and others who seek information about their environment. Written originally for those elementary school teachers who knew little of common plants and animals, and even less about the earth beneath their feet and the skies overhead, this book is for the most part as valid and helpful today as it was when first written in 1911 and revised in the spirit of its authors by a group of naturalists in 1939.More info →
This pocket guide is stored with our nature exploring supplies and local laminated nature pamphlets that we take with us on hikes and nature walks. It’s helpful to have around and really is pocket-size.
One of our goals is to create meaningful ways for you to share books and adventures with your children. Nature exploration is just one of the ways you can connect books to knowledge.
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