With the weather getting warmer and kids all across the country at home, now is a perfect time to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.* Our Enjoying the Outdoors Reading List is perfect for ways to inspire young ones to head outdoors.
* Most of these activities can be done in your own backyard. Remember to practice responsible social distancing during this uncertain time when venturing farther from home.
Bringing the Outside In by Mary KcKenna Siddals, illustrated by Patrice Barton (Random House Children’s Books, 2016) Ages 3-7
Nothing takes the place of splashing in a puddle or jumping into a pile of autumn leaves. Along with the mud and sand that get tracked indoors come memories that live forever! Mary McKenna Siddals has written a joyous anthem that celebrates playing in sunshine, puddles, leaves and snow — and the treasures that get collected along the way. An ode to outdoor play.
The Bug Girl by Sophia Spencer and Maragret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoet (Tundra Books, 2020) Ages 4-8
Sophia Spencer has loved bugs ever since a butterfly landed on her shoulder — and wouldn’t leave! — at a butterfly conservancy when she was only two-and-a-half years old. In preschool and kindergarten, Sophia was thrilled to share what she knew about grasshoppers (her very favourite insects), as well as ants and fireflies . . . but by first grade, not everyone shared her enthusiasm. Some students bullied her, and Sophia stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia’s mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response — letters, photos and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs — and it worked!
The Canadian Kids’ Guide to Outdoor Fun by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Claudia Dávila (Scholastic Canada, 2019) Ages 6-12
In this boredom-busting guide to outdoor and indoor fun, learn how to read the clouds, draw a cartoon or crack a code. Build a campfire, perform a magic trick, master canoe strokes, make a friendship bracelet, survive a car trip or identify animal tracks! There’s so much to do, you’ll never be bored! Packed with games, DIY activities, recipes and projects!
City Bugs by Antonia Banyard (Annick Press, 2018) Ages 1-4
When you walk down the street, what do you see? In this photographic board book, toddlers are encouraged to go outside and see, hear, find, feel and meet some bugs that live in their urban environment. Bright, colourful photographs of young children interacting with caterpillars, butterflies and ants make this the perfect introduction to appreciating nature in the concrete jungle.
A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Julie Flett (Tradewind Books, 2017) Ages 5-8
In the Nicola Valley, British Columbia, a First Nations family goes on an outing to gather edible plants and mushrooms. The grandmother, Yayah, takes the opportunity to share her knowledge of the natural world with her young grandchildren, as well as encourage them to speak their native language. Yayah and her family are Nle?képmx — a part of the Interior Salish peoples.
Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun — A Kid-to-Kid Guide by Emma Biggs and Stven Biggs, illustrated by Rob Hodgson (Storey Publishing, 2019) Ages 8-12
Dig, discover and grow cool things! With tips for how to grow a flower stand garden, and suggestions for veggies from tiny to colossal, 13-year-old Emma shares her just-for-kids’ advice on growing a garden, including theme garden ideas and tips for preparing, planting and caring for a garden, along with creative ways to have fun doing it.
Flow, Spin, Grow: Looking for Patterns in Nature by Patchen Barss, illustrated by Todd Stewart (Owlkids Books, 2018) Ages 4-8
Branching, spiralling, spinning — you can find patterns almost anywhere in nature. Branches of trees and rivers flow, storms and snail shells spiral, while electrons and galaxies swirl. This book is designed to inspire kids to observe, discover and explore hidden shapes in the world around them and understand that we are all connected to nature and its patterns.
The Yoga Game in the Garden by Kathy Beliveau, illustrated by Denise Holmes (Simply Read Books, 2016) Ages 3-7
The second book in The Yoga Game series wiggles its way to the garden. Hum like a bee! Grow like a tree! Enjoy another delightful yoga practice with more entertaining rhymes, enchanting riddles and whimsical illustrations. Critters and creatures help plant the fun in this picture book for yoga enthusiasts young and old!
The Mushroom Fan Club written and illustrated by Elise Gravel (Drawn & Quarterly, 2018) Ages 4-11
Elise Gravel takes readers on a magical tour of the forest floor and examines a handful of her favourite alien specimens up close. From the fun-to-stomp puffballs to the prince of the stinkers, the stinkhorn mushroom, Gravel shares her knowledge of fungi by bringing each species to life in full felt-tip-marker glory. This title is also available in French as Le Fan club des champignons.
My Forest is Green by Darren Lebeuf, illustrated Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press, 2019) Ages 3-7
With art supplies in tow, a young boy explores the urban forest near his home and, using different artistic mediums like collage, photography, paint and more, the boy creatively depicts the many shapes, textures and colours of his natural surroundings. He is a keen observer who uses poetic, rhythmic language to describe the diversity he finds through all four seasons.
Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano, illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka (Groundwood Books, 2016) Ages 5-9
Tokyo lives in a small house that used to overlook forests, meadows and streams. But the city has eaten up the entire natural world. Then an old woman offers Tokyo seeds, telling him they will grow into whatever he wishes. The seeds grow into a lush forest that takes over the whole city, turning it wild, with animals roaming where cars once drove. Can a new way of living be embraced?
Toshi’s Little Treasures by Nadine Robert, illustrated by Aki (Kids Can Press, 2016) Ages 3-7
Join Toshi and his grandmother on six informative, interactive search-and-find adventures as they explore their favourite places — the riverbank, the city, the forest, the country, the park and the beach. They delight in the wonders of nature and the curious little things people have left behind. This title is also available in French as Le grand livre des petits trésors.