In the Woods: An Adventure for Your Senses by Mariona Tolosa Sisteré (OwlKids Books, September 2023) is the in action tale of a family going on a walk in the woods. With bright paintings to show the action, parent and child dialogue tell of the smells, sights, sounds, and textures that the children and grownups
A year in the life of a two-year-old beaver is the story frame in the nonfiction picture book What Goes On Inside a Beaver Pond? by Becky Cushing Gop, illustrated by Carrie Shryock (Storey Publishing, September 2023). She leaves her childhood lodge in the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary along the Yokun River (a real place
Nature Recycles, How about You? by Michelle Lord, illustrated by Cathy Morrison (Arbordale, 2013), is a realistically illustrated picture book that brings awareness to how plants and animals reuse things in nature to survive. This includes a wide variety of examples, including a hermit using old shells and nature recycling water through the water cycle.
The nonfiction picture book We Are Starlings by Robert Furrow and Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Marc Martin (Random House, May 2023), invites readers into the mesmerizing world of a starling murmuration. Watercolor, pencil, and digital collage illustrations give a delicate balance between misty-edged watercolor plants and animals and the defined edges of closer birds.
Once, a Bird by by Rina Singh and Nathalie Dion (Orca Book Publishers, September 2023) is a gorgeously illustrated wordless picture book that takes readers on a journey through the eyes of a bird in search of a place to settle and build a nest. The watercolor and gouache illustrations capture the bird’s perspective as it
The picture book Tree Whispers: A Forest of Poems by Mandy Ross and illustrated by Juliana Oakley (Child’s Play May 2023) collects brief poems about trees which encourage children to get outside to enjoy nature. Most of the poems are conversational, and some don’t read like poems to me at all. The deceptively simple child-like
The Gray by Chris Barron (Feiwel & Friends, June 2023) tells the story of a young teenager with anxiety that experiences panic attacks. During his forced device-free vacation in the country with his aunt, Sasha finds his own confidence. His trip into the country becomes one of self-discovery as he makes new friends and faces
Literacy Moves Outdoors: Learning Approaches for Any Environment by Valerie Bang-Jensen (Heinemann, April 2023) gives teachers practical and useful ideas for adding sensory, hands-on literacy lessons outdoors into their regular teaching routines. As a homeschool parent (over the last 11 years) and homeschool co-op teacher, I frequently have advocated for learning methods far outside of
The Nature Girls by Aki (Godwin Books, 2019) features a group of sixteen girls who explore various biomes of the earth. Each two-page spread shows cartoon-illustrated landscapes paired with rhyming couplets. Brief lines on each spread do not share many informational details, but it makes a nice read-aloud for younger children. The end matter shares
In the poetic picture book When You Breathe by Diana Farid, illustrated by Billy Renkl (Cameron + Company, 2020), the author, a physician, describes the connections between the wind and air around us and the breath that sustains our lives. Beginning with a breath that “fills the upside tree” in our lungs, Farid continues the
Elephants Remember: A True Story by Jennifer O’Connell (Tilbury House, 2022) tells the true story of the “Elephant Whisperer,” Lawrence Anthony, who ran a wild animal reserve in Zululand, South Africa. Despite the wild nature of a herd of elephants, with Anthony’s care and civility, the herd is able to thrive in his reserve. When
Ice Cycle by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jieting Chen (Millbrook Press, 2022) is subtitled “Poems about the Life of Ice,” and I must say that, just as I had never considered the variety of animals living near icebergs, I had never considered varieties of ice on which those animals live! Yes, as Gianferrari shows in
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