Celebrating nature has been an important part of my life, from exploring a creek, to flipping logs in the woods, nature connects us not only to the world, but to each other! However, sometimes I couldn’t always get outside. Instead, I would turn to books. Reading can be a great way of exploring the world around you without ever having to leave your home!
Today, I wanted to write about six books: two for young children, two for young adults, and two for adults. I hope you pick one of these amazing books up and learn a little bit along the way!
“The Hike” by Alison Farrell
While “The Hike” is based out of the west coast, it still has many interesting things to share; getting out and exploring the world around you is an important message! Being able to identify some of the plants, animals and fungi that we can find in our own backyard is a useful skill and awesome knowledge for everyone to have.
The illustration and storytelling that goes along with this book make for a great education tool for kids, and will hopefully make them want to ask questions and look for some of the unique plants and animals the characters find in throughout the story.
Throughout the book, kids are encouraged to start nature journaling as well, which is a fantastic way to get kids into wanting to actively learn themselves, and observing the world around them, from ants, to owls and everything in between!
“Over and Under the Pond” by Kate Messner
“Over and Under the Pond” is a children’s book that looks to teach kids about the amazing natural world going on all around them. It has some beautiful illustrations, and almost-poetic lines about the hidden world under the pond. From a large moose to a Caddisfly larvae, nothing goes unexplored in this enjoyable journey.
At the end of the book, there is some extra information about each animal explored in the story for kids to learn about and deepen their understanding of some of these creatures – if you even wanted to, you might be able to go out and find some yourself! (We happen to know some Great Parks where you can discover wildlife!) It’s also worth noting that this is just one book in a series, other titles in the series include topics like winter, rainforests, and the newest one, canyons!
Teen & Young Adult Books
“Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder” by Kenn Kaufman
I will admit, I’m a little bit biased in putting this book here, as birding is my favorite hobby. But I think that this book is amazing regardless! “Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder” is a book by Kenn Kaufman, writer and author of the Kaufman Field Guides, which are another awesome gift for teens wanting to explore nature.
This book tells the story of a 16-year-old Kenn traveling the country in the 70s for a different reason than most: He is after birds. Kenn is looking to complete a Big Year and set a new record, an objective where birders look to see as many bird species in one year as possible, but he is on a bit of a budget. Doing odd jobs along the way earns him $50–$100 every now and then, and he proceeds to stretch it for weeks at a time.
Kenn hitches his way from coast to coast and back again, finding ways to get from Oregon to Florida and back up north to Alaska all along the way meeting some amazing people.
“Diary of a Young Naturalist” by Dara McAnulty
This book was one that I only just found out about late last year. Published in 2020, this book is exactly as it says – the diary of a young naturalist based out of Ireland. In “Diary of a Young Naturalist,” Dara discusses the topics of everything from nature, to his daily life with autism and people’s interactions with him, to his environmental conservation work.
Dara explores a lot of great topics in his book, and it’s great insight into the modern-day environmentalist movements! Dara delves into every topic in depth, and shows a deep love for the environment around him. “Diary of a Young Naturalist” reads like a poetry book about nature; everything Dara writes has a beautiful and thought-provoking effect to it!
“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
“Braiding Sweetgrass” is an amazing look at Native American culture and its honoring of the world around them. In this book, Robin Wall Kimmerer explores her personal experiences in working with plants and finding that connection back to her cultural traditions along the way. Not only does she look at the emotional connection people have to the plants around them, but also explores the scientific realm and how the two can be linked. This is actually becoming more and more commonplace as the environmental world looks at how Science and Indigenous knowledge can not only co-exist, but thrive off one another.
Overall, Kimmerer puts it best in describing her book as an “intertwining of science, spirit, and story,” and I would put this as a must-read for anyone interested in the environmental field!
“Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard” by Douglas W. Tallamy
“Nature’s Best Hope” was a book I had a personal interest in, as I have been wanting to transform my grassy yard into a mini haven for insects and other animals! The most interesting part of this book to me is the talk about a needed age of ecological enlightenment, where rather than seeing ourselves as counter to and conquering or opposing nature, we instead need to see ourselves as being a part of nature!
Many have grown up around the idea that a yard void of animal life is a good yard, when that is the furthest thing from the truth. Landscaping, instead of being this great ecological sterilizer, should be an ecological restorer; we should look to aid native animals instead of accidentally spread invasive plants. This book is a great read for anyone looking to transform a sterile landscape into an ecological wonder!
Nature Interpreter, Miami Whitewater Forest