We all have our "favorites"... favorite places, favorite sayings, favorite food, favorite "stuff", right? It would be great for all of us Natural Families to share our favorite books that are nature-related. Really think of your most unique and all-time favorites! 

I'm thinking we can have a few general categories (here's what we're looking for):

  1. Fiction for children
  2. Fiction for adolescents
  3. Fiction for adults
  4. Journal/Activity books for kids (that they use themselves)
  5. Resources for adults

Those are pretty general categories, but can you think of any others we need to include? I'm thinking that non-fiction is pretty easy to find -- unless you've got a really special one!

Please use this format when submitting your faves:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Publication date
  4. Recommended age(s)
  5. Synopsis
  6. Why you think it's such a great book or resource
  7. If possible, include a link to the author or amazon so folks can get more details if they're interested

Also, in thinking about reaching out to diverse populations, it would be great to know if a given book is culturally relevant and if it is available in any languages other than English.

I can't wait to see and read some new books! Thanks for sharing!!



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TITLE: Camping with the President

AUTHOR: Ginger Wadsworth


AGES: 5+ (as a read aloud)

Imagine a U.S. president on a camping trip. It seems unlikely today, but in May 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt dismissed his Secret Service men and sent away reporters and dignitaries to go camping with John Muir, the world-famous naturalist. For three glorious nights and four days in California's Yosemite National Park, the two men talked about birds, giant sequoia trees, glaciers, as well as the importance of preserving wilderness for future generations. They slept under the stars, built blazing campfires, traveled on horseback, and enjoyed the beauty and the uniqueness of the area. "It was bully," President Roosevelt said on his last morning as he climbed into his stagecoach and waved good-bye to John Muir. Setting aside new national parks and monuments became one of the cornerstones of Roosevelt's presidency and was a direct result of this camping trip.

Author Ginger Wadsworth, who has written about Yosemite and Muir before, and illustrator Karen Dugan carefully researched this true story, relying on primary documents and working closely with experts in the field. Camping with the President shows how two individuals were powerfully affected by one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders, Yosemite National Park, and by each other.

It tells a great true story about two "greats" in American history, natural history. A story that changed our country forever! Our two boys love this book and the tale it tells.


TITLE:  Nature Log Kids: A Kid's Journal to Record their Nature Experiences

AUTHOR: DeAnna Brandt


AGES: 6+ (involves reading and writing and drawing)

This is a great little log book for kids who are learning to observe and log things in nature. Provides a fantastic basic "structure" to their observations and includes a space for drawing. Also available is a Bird Log Kids for those of you with kids who are into observing birds! Link below.

Kids actually like to use this log. It has lots of room for writing and drawing, and also includes pages to glue pictures. It provides a nice scaffold for beginning observers that they'd be able to transfer over to blank journals one day. The fact that it is spiral bound makes it easy to use and keep relatively nice.

LINK: Amazon   

             Bird Log Kids

Title: Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities

Author: Rob Bignell

Publication date: 2012

Recommended age(s): adult 

Synopsis: (from Amazon.com) Listing more than 100 diversions, “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities” provides anyone taking kids on a day hike with loads of tried and true amusements to keep children from getting unruly or bored. Topics include: activities to get kids excited about a day hike; crafts in which kids make their own hiking gear; recipes for healthy snacks on the trail; games that will help kids better understand and appreciate nature; and post-hike activities to keep kids excited about the sport. Culled from the experiences of fellow outdoor-minded parents, “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities” is the most comprehensive collection of diversions available, with something for every age group and childhood interest.

Why you think it's such a great book or resource: This book equips you with lots of tips and tricks for making the most out of any hiking situation. We've all been there - we've done everything "right" to prepare and get excited for a hike and our kids are cranky, bored, or just not interested. Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities gives you lots of great ideas for before, during, and after an outing to keep your kids motivated, interested, and cheerful.

Learn more: http://hikeswithtykes.com/home.html

Everybody Needs a Rock

Byrd Baylor


Age 4 and up (read aloud)

It's a story of finding a special place in nature, that is full of the joy and spirit of childhood, but that we as adults strive to remember...it's basically a manifesto of how to find your "own" rock, "Bend over. More. Even more. You may have to sit on the ground with your head almost touching the earth. You have to look a rock right in the eye.".

It is also beautifully illustrated. 

It's a good story, and all kids can relate to the urgency of the need to find that special rock, to find your spot in nature - told in a child's voice, it really is a reminder to all of us!


I went skiing with my 8- and 12-year-old boys at Norquay, and we saw them doing some avalanche bombing at the top of the mountain. As I answered their questions about why the ski patrol was intentionally setting off avalanches, it got me to thinking that it's time to start teaching my kids about avalanche safety. So my recommendation is a movie, not a book, but any youths going into avalanche terrain should watch it. Actually, any youths going anywhere with snow and any kind of hill should watch it: snowshoers, hikers, cross-country skiers, backcountry skiers and boarders, resort skiers that could be tempted to poach runs out of bounds...I just watched it again, and it's pretty good for adults too.

Available on Amazon Instant Video


Watch the trailer


The Fine Line

Produced by Rocky Mountain Sherpas


Most appropriate for teens, but probably good for about 10 and up

The Fine Line tricks kids into learning the basics of avalanche safety by disguising "education" as an extreme ski/snowboard movie. It mixes avalanche safety information in with alternative rock (some really good stuff, too), a plasticine history of the world, massive avalanches, crazy pros skiing and boarding epic lines, and people telling their stories of getting caught and buried by avalanches. It's raw and real, and it doesn't condescend to kids (warning: there are a couple bad words in it). The movie doesn't take the place of an avalanche safety course taught by certified instructors, but it will get kids thinking and taking the risks of playing in avalanche terrain seriously. The DVD has the movie and four training films, although I don't know what the Amazon Instant Video version includes. Unfortunately the DVD doesn't appear to be available anymore.

TITLE: Nature's Playground: Activities, crafts and games to encourage children to get outdoors

AUTHOR: Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield


AGES: Reference for Adults

Introducing children to the excitement of the natural world, this guide to outdoor adventure provides hours of creative, safe, and fun activities. Children will learn how to build a den from branches, make twig boats to sail across a pond, and voyage through the backyard to find tiny insects and creatures. Activities include invigorating games, natural crafts, and lively adventures, all of which are organized by season. An additional chapter also addresses safe activities for children after dark. Perfect for families, caretakers, and educators, this creative resource encourages children to turn off the television and play outside all year round.

Amazon link

Title: John Muir: America's Naturalist

Author: Thomas Locker

Publication date: 2003

Recommended age(s): 4+ 

Synopsis: (from Amazon.com) 

In a series of richly painted landscapes, Thomas Locker brings the world and words of John Muir to readers of all ages. Equally at home in the wilderness of California and Alaska, Muir was a fervid naturalist who wrote inspiring lyrical descriptions of nature for the benefit of future generations. He also founded the Sierra Club to encourage citizens to protect what he considered our greatest treasure: the natural world.

With text and illustrations accompanied by excerpts from Muir’s writings, John Muir allows readers to experience Muir’s adventures in nature and his contagious passion for wild lands. He recognized that wilderness should not only be appreciated but should be fought for, and his life and work eventually sparked the preservationist movement in the United States and throughout the world. Includes a timeline of major events in Muir's life.

John Muir is part of Thomas Locker’s Images of Conservationists series, which also includes Rachel CarsonWalking with Henry, and Hudson: The Story of a River.

Why we love this book: This book makes legendary John Muir "accessible" to readers of all ages! Our boys love learning about people and love learning about nature - this is a perfect fit! Beautiful art as well.

Amazon link

TITLE: Cat Tails and Spooky Trails

AUTHOR: Jean Hunt


RECOMMENDED AGES: 6 years and up


What does an easy-going Low Country cat have in common with a headstrong city girl? "Nothing. I don't DO cats," or so Mattie thought. Until she met Bogey, who became her guide into the life of the forest animals on the Carolina coast. Seeing a live alligator challenges her bravery and creeping through a ghostly cemetery gives her goose bumps. With a fluffy cat companion, Mattie discovers the forest holds many secrets.


The characters spend time outside in the forest, around the marsh, get dirty and see tons of wildlife. This story is immersed with nature. It reminds me of the old days when kids spend the entire day outdoors.

AMAZON LINK: click here

The Amazon link is for the kindle version, but a paper version is available through the author's website.

The last few days (Maple Syrup Season in our neck of the woods), our family's favorite story is Rainbow Crow.  It is a Lenne Lenape tale.  Found in the following book.... 


I have loved this story for a long time and this week it was really fun to see our 22 mos daughter was feeling great empathy for Crow!




I read to my kids every night before they go to bed.  It's great fun choosing books that we can share together and seeing how their interests have evolved as they have aged.  My boys are now 7 and almost 10 and as you might expect they love a good adventure story.  I think it's important to read stories that are just good tales about adventuring in nature, and not always trying to "teach" kids about natural history or the like.  Two recent faves that I would highly recommend are Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry and The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss.  Both are wonderful stories about learning to survive in nature.  Heck, they both made me wish I could get stranded on a deserted island in the south pacific.  Guarnteed to inspire many adventures and probably treehouses!

Thanks for the share, Dionne! And you also make a really good point in your post: "...it's important to read stories that are just good tales about adventuring in nature, and not always trying to 'teach' kids about natural history or the hike." That's one of the reasons I wanted folks to share good books here, focused on fiction (and a few parent resources). I'm loving that you and others are sharing so many great stories! Equally as important - I LOVE that you read to your kids every night before bed. So do we! 

The Fiddler of the Northern Lights

by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock


for ages 4-9 (though I, as an adult, love this story!)

This is a story of family connections, outdoor adventure, and the power of believing. Eight-year-old Henry lives in Quebec along the St. Maurice River, and one evening he and his grandfather take a long, very special ice skating journey along the river. The story's real magic happens after these two return cold and tired to their cozy cabin in the woods. 


My daughter and I also read every night together and this book comes off the shelf several times each winter to remind us why this season is so magical.  If you've never seen the northern lights, you might want to check out this link to this past week's amazing aurora display in Alaska: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hsMW7zb...


You can order this book from your favorite independent bookseller or order it online on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Fiddler-Northern-Lights-Natalie-Kinsey-Warnoc....



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