Spring is in the air! Warmer days, plants poking up from the ground, and baby animals make spring the perfect time to focus on nature and all its wonders. These picture books are a fun way for children to learn about the natural world around them.
Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre
Sayre is one of my favorite authors of children’s nature books, and she’s created another good one with Being Frog. Close-up, detailed photographs of frogs in their natural habitat help show us what interesting lives frogs lead: leaping, sitting and waiting, hiding underwater, sunning, and climbing. A series of photos show the life cycle from egg to tadpole to froglet as they develop in a pond. The quality of the photographs and reverence Sayre has for nature help us understand how remarkable this rather common creature really is.
In the Woods by David Elliot and illustrated by Rob Dunlavey
With a short poem dedicated to each animal, In the Woods explores the lives of a variety of forest creatures, from millipede to tanager to moose. As spring emerges, each animal prepares for the season in a different way. Some emerge from burrows, some search for food for their young, some swim in the newly melted river. Detailed back matter gives more information on each animal—very handy for adults reading to curious children.
Run Wild by David Covell
A pair of friends run through the woods, squishing in mud, racing rabbits, exploring the dark, cool places and the sunny, hot places, too. The wild abandonment and full sensory experience of these children will encourage all readers to get outside and explore.
The Secret Fawn by Kallie George and Elly MacKay
The youngest child in the house always misses seeing the deer that sometimes comes close to her house, so she sets out one morning to find it. Alert for any sound or movement that detect the deer’s presence, the little girl notices many simple wonders of nature: leaves gently floating down, a bird splashing in some water, a squirrel rustling in the branches. When she quietly sits to wait, she notices something low under the bushes, something no one else in her family has seen...
Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder
Gorgeous full-color images invite curious readers to “step gently out” and observe the natural world around them, especially small, overlooked plants and animals. Close-up photographs emphasize the wondrous details we miss with our naked eye: fibers of a blade of grass and the individual hairs and antennae of the caterpillar resting there; tiny hairs on the legs of a damselfly; pollen coating a honeybee’s legs. Back matter at the end of Step Gently Out gives details of the insects on each page.
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
Lyrical verse describes the life of a large stone and how a variety of creatures experience it. When a bird cracks a nut on the stone, it is loud, but, when a snake uses the stone to rest, it is quiet. To a slug, the stone is rough, but, to a porcupine, it is smooth. To a moose, the stone is tiny, but, to an insect, the stone is enormous. The stone looks different in fall, when it is covered with leaves, and in winter, when it is covered in snow. A Stone Sat Still is an interesting way to think about the variety of creatures who can inhabit and share one area, as well as the very different lives and experiences of the creatures themselves.
A Walk Through the Woods by Louise Greig and illustrated by Helen Musslewhite
A combination of poetic verse and beautiful artwork creates an enchanting reading experience. Gorgeous cut-out pages allow the reader to both peek ahead and back at the same time and reflect the experience of walking further into the woods, revealing the mysteries ahead, while the place where they started gets further and further away.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.