Book Corner: Enjoy Nature Books Anytime

Nature books are great for children all year long. I tend to think about surfacing these books in the spring, summer, and fall, but, when I was looking back at some of the picture books released recently and came across some interesting nature books, I thought "why wait?"  Nature is always wondrous, no matter the season. 

Building, opens a new window by Henry Cole
Winter is a busy time for this pair of beavers. They need to find a good spot to start building, with plenty of trees around to provide building materials. They cut trees down with their strong teeth, then gnaw them even more to cut those trees into smaller pieces. They move the branches to the special spot they have picked out, then use mud to create a dam with the branches. As winter gradually ends, the beaver’s dam has gotten big enough to create a pond where they can safely build a lodge to protect the baby beavers that are coming. As the baby beavers grow, we see them explore the habitat that has been created by the dam, a place where many other animals now make their home. The illustrations and text of Building are realistic, which allows us to gain a deeper understanding of how these shy animals live, and there is just enough sweetness conveyed to make it engaging for a child sitting on a loved one’s lap for storytime.

How Birds Sleep, opens a new window illustrated by Sarah Pedry and written by David Obuchowski
Have you ever asked yourself how birds sleep? My answer was “in a nest.”  After reading this book, I now know that is true for some birds but not all. Some sleep without a nest in the habitat around them, such as down in reeds around a pond, on a tree branch (right side up or upside down), tucked into a snowbank, or riding out the waves on the ocean. Some birds even sleep while flying or sleep while standing. For those who do sleep in a nest, the variety of nests is surprising: tiny nests made from  leaves stitched together with plant fibers, nests tucked into a prickly cactus, nests hanging in trees, nests in the earth and tree trunks. The variety of ways birds sleep is astounding. How Birds Sleep provides succinct, age-appropriate descriptions with illustrations that allow the reader to fully understand the wide variety of birds in the world and what their habitats look like. Backmatter adds more details for older children and adults trying to answer questions from younger children.

The Secret Signs of Nature: How to Uncover Hidden Clues in the Sky, Water, Plants, Animals, and Weather, opens a new window by Craig Caudill, illustrated by Carrie Shryock
This book is for young naturalists who are ready to advance to the next level with their exploration of the outdoors (accompanied by an adult, of course!). Each two-page spread in this 50-plus-page book focuses on a unique experience in nature and explains how we can use our senses to make observations about the world around us. Seeing a rainbow is a remarkable experience, but this book explains how rainbows can give us clues about other things as well, based on what time of the day a rainbow appears. We can gather a lot of information from trees using their rings to tell how old they are and what the weather was like during each year, as well as seeing which side of the tree has longer and larger roots, which indicates from which side the prevailing wind typically comes. Readers can also learn what butterflies show us, learn how your senses can predict rain, and “Learn to Read a Full Moon.”  Backmatter includes a glossary of words used throughout the book as well as recommendations for further reading.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.