Nature books for children
Reading time with your little ones is one of the most precious and mindful activities you can engage in. And what better subject matter than the natural world around us? Below are a few recommendations, based on our collective experience as natural healthcare professionals and, of course, parents :-)
A First Book of Nature (Nicola Davies)
A lovely way to bring the seasons to life for discussion with your child, using a mixture of poetry and prose – all supported by beautiful illustrations and vibrant colours on every page. In fact, we think this one’s just as much for adults as it is for children.
The book is also finished to a high standard, using quality paper bound in a pleasantly tactile cover – retailing at £12.99 it’s not cheap, but worth every penny.
A worthy companion to Shirley Hughes’ excellent Out and About: A First Book of Poems (see below).
Amazing Animal Journeys (Chris Packham)
Jodie’s 4 year old Leo loves this book, which focuses on animal migration. The illustrations, by Harry Potter cover artist Jason Cockroft, are superb and the inclusion of maps is a real bonus, providing scope for further discussion and learning (when the time’s right). There is also a really handy section at the end containing more detailed information on each of the animal groups covered in the book.
Just enough detail to be digestible at bed time, and a worthwhile and considered addition to any child’s book collection.
Out and About: A First Book of Poems (Shirley Hughes)
You’ll probably be familiar with Shirley’s other work such as the Alfie series (which, to be honest, we have found to be a little hit and miss) – but this is a rather special little book. When it comes to children’s literature there is just so much tat out there, with the focus seemingly more on quirky illustration than writing quality – however her work is the real deal.
The combination of simple descriptive language and wonderful, timeless illustration walks children through the seasons in simple, every day scenarios they can relate to. Perfect for bite-sized chunks at any time of the day, we cannot recommend this uniquely British collection enough.
The Whales’ Song (Dyan Sheldon)
This award-winning picture book is all about the illustrations – which have a dream-like quality perfectly suited to bedtime reading. The passages are a good length for that transition between shorter and longer stories, with nice, descriptive language.
We felt that the overall story and the characters within could have been developed slightly – a little more background around Lilly’s grandmother and uncle Frederick for example, and a suggestion as to why he acts in the way he does. The (albeit lovely) story has a rather abrupt ending, too. Nonetheless it remains a popular staple at bed time, so perhaps that should be enough!
All in a Day (Cynthia Rylant)
A book about finding simple pleasures in every day life and the world around us. The engaging, slightly-abstract illustrations have a pleasantly retro feel.
What sets this book apart though is the underlying message that life is fleeting and not to be wasted – that by being ‘present’ in all that we do (even the simplest of activities) can reveal something rather special. And with so many distractions in every day life, we think that can’t be a bad thing.
Mindfulness isn’t just for adults, after all.
Bee: Nature’s tiny miracle (Patricia Hegarty)
One for the budding herbalists out there. From the description: “Turn the pages to follow the miraculous little bee and its journey from flower to flower in this delightful peep-through picture book. Brought to life by the lyrical text and stunning artwork from the award-winning Britta Teckentrup, the miracle of pollination will amaze and entertain.”
We couldn’t agree more – little ones are fascinated by the clever peep-through design of the pages as we follow the little bee on its journey. It also introduces children to the concept of inter-dependencies within an ecosystem.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Judith Kerr)
Ok – so this one’s not about nature per se, but it does contain one rather friendly (not to mention hungry) tiger. We couldn’t resist squeezing in this timeless classic because it’s just that good.
What’s it really about? Well, there’s probably little point in getting into existential subtexts here – all we know is that all our children have enjoyed this one, which is all that counts, isn’t it? :-)