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Books That Show Appreciation for Nature

These recommendations from local book experts and librarians remind us of the impact that nature can have on a child.

When I was a child, if I was angry or frustrated or bored, I’d run out my door and directly into the forest that surrounded my home. I didn’t know why at the time, but since learning about the benefits of unstructured, outdoor play as an adult, I believe I was drawn to it because I needed nature as much as I needed air to breathe. I don’t have a forest outside my door anymore (and many reading this will not either), but thankfully, there are dozens of great books to remind us of the impact that nature can have on a child, and help draw us back to it.

Courtesy Scholastic

A Log’s Life

by Wendy Pfeffer; illustrated by Robin Brickman (Aladdin Paperbacks 2007)

Three-dimensional paper sculpture complements lyrical text in this nonfiction picture book. Kids get a close-up look at the life cycle of a tree and learn about the interdependence of living creatures in nature.

Courtesy Rocky Mountain Conservancy

High as a Hawk

by T.A. Barron; illustrated by Ted Lewin (Philomel 2004/Rocky Mountain Conservancy 2018)

Colorado-based author T.A. Barron tells the story of eight-year-old Harriet, who overcomes steep slopes, a blizzard, and other surprises on her ascent of Colorado’s Longs Peak. Based on the 1905 historic event of the youngest person to climb the peak, the book was recently republished by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that supports Rocky Mountain National Park.

Courtesy Penguin Random House

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind

by Liz Garton Scanlon; illustrated by Lee White (Schwartz and Wade Books 2018)

Praised as a great read-aloud, when a wind blows on the top of a steep hill, everything turns upside down for the man who lives there. Kate comes up with a plan to protect the man’s house and tame the wind by planting trees.

Courtesy Penguin Random House

A Father’s Love

by Hannah Holt; illustrated by Yee Von Chan (Philomel 2019)

This book shows how a variety of fathers in the animal kingdom help care for their young, from the red fox dad who keeps his children safe by digging burrows, to the male seahorse who keeps his young safe inside his pouch. Written in rhyme, the book also teaches young children colors through animals living in a wide range of environments and climates.

Courtesy Penguin Random House

Run Wild

by David Covell (Viking Books for Young
Readers 2018)

“Lush watercolors capture the joy and movement of outdoor adventures in this ode to unplugging and immersive nature play,” says Carrie Wolfson, children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library. When a girl shouts, “Hey, you! Sky’s blue,” a boy bent over his digital device runs after her, leaving his screen behind for a world full of sunshine.

Courtesy Fifth House Publishers

Dragonfly Kites

by Tomson Highway; illustrated by Julie Flett
(Fifth House Publishers 2016)

Recommended by Liesel Schmidt, children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library, Dragonfly Kites tells the story of two brothers who spend a summer in the outdoors at various lakes in Manitoba. They make the acquaintance of a number of creatures and especially love dragonflies. The text is presented in both English and Cree, an aboriginal language most commonly spoken in Canada.

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