This summer may not have turned out the way you planned, but the slower pace does provide opportunities for more outdoor adventures than before. Even as kids gear up for the school year, read these books to soak in the possibilities of outdoor spaces.
by Mya Thompson; illustrated by Claudia Dávila (Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2019)
Ruby lives in a New York City apartment building, but her neighbor introduces her to the world of bird watching just a short walk away in Central Park. She learns to stay still, listen, and watch for birds, then shows her family how they can do the same. The end of the book highlights facts about birds and how to identify them, including 14 types you’ll commonly spot around city parks.
by Pete Oswald (Candlewick Press, 2020)
Recommended by Liesel Schmidt, children’s librarian at Denver Public Library, this almost wordless book depicts a hike shared by father and child. The duo sees the magic of the wilderness, overcomes challenges, and plays a small role in the survival of the forest. When they return home, father and child feel closer than ever.
by Alison Farrell (Chronicle Books, 2018)
Etta the Elephant takes a journey through a city with bikes of all kinds and experiences an amazing bicycle parade at the end of the day. Illustrations filled with tiny details make this book a fun seek-and-find adventure for observant kids.
by Evan Turk (Atheneum, 2019)
This book shares scenes from 23 of the 60 U.S. national parks, from Glacier Bay, Alaska, to Big Bend, Texas. Artwork by the illustrator (originally from Colorado) shows many animals who call the national parks home. The story sends the message that like the animals who live there, people from all backgrounds can also feel at home in national parks.
by Woody Guthrie; illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020)
Woody Guthrie’s folk song comes to life through a variety of painted landscapes and diverse people from all across the United States, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters. Readers will discover the complete lyrics, including some less familiar verses, as well as a biographical scrapbook of Guthrie’s life at the back of the book.
by Lindsay Leslie; illustrated by Ellen Rooney (Page Street Publishing Co., 2020)
When the sun begins to set, the neighborhood beckons to the tree climbers, toad hunters, curbside whisperers, and the hide-and-seek players. In this book, children will see the freedom and excitement of simple, unplugged, outdoor evenings that many parents will remember from their own childhoods.
by Darren Lebeuf; illustrated by Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press, 2019)
A young boy gathers the things he finds in his urban forest, brings them home and fills his room with art inspired by nature. Suggested by Denver Public Library children’s librarian Rachel Hartman, the story will encourage children to notice the wide range of textures and colors found outdoors.
Books experts also recommend:
- In a Garden by Tim McCanna; illustrated by Aimee Sicuro
- Cityscape by April Pulley Sayre
- Plenty of Hugs by Fran Manushkin; illustrated by Kate Alizadeh
- River by Elisha Cooper
- Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond; illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
- The Hike by Alison Farrell
- Bikes for Sale by Carter Higgins; illustrated by Zachariah OHora
- The Keeper of the Wild Words by Brooke Smith; illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
- Charlie & Mouse Outdoors by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Emily Hughes
- My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan; illustrated by Francesca Sanna
- Oliver The Curious Owl by Chad Otis
- When the Storm Comes by Linda Ashman; illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
- Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan; illustrated by Floyd Cooper
- I See by Joe Cepeda
- And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano; illustrated by Erin E. Stead
- Float by Daniel Miyares
- Seeing Into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright; illustrated by Nina Crews
- Walk and See: ABC by Nosy Crow; illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Dusk Explorers: Page Street Publishing Co. This Land: Little, Brown and Company. You Are Home: Simon & Schuster. Cycle City: Chronicle Books. Hike: Candlewick Press. Ruby’s Birds: The Cornell Lab Publishing Group. My Forest is Green: Kids Can Press.