There are so many fascinating things for children (and adults!) to see, do and experience outside. But there are also times – bedtime, for example – that you simply can’t be outdoors with your kids. These are the times you can turn to books.
Stories are the perfect way to introduce your child to new concepts and ideas, or to encourage their natural enthusiasm and interest in their world. Books make the world feel safe, familiar and fascinating – and this knowledge is your child’s key to fun in the great outdoors.
Here are five fantastic picture books about the world around us:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: This much-loved classic (pictured above) is the ultimate story of nature, showing the transition of a small caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Carle’s illustrations showcase the colours of nature like no other. After reading this, your child will be even more aware of noticing little creatures and keen to understand their ‘secret’ lives.
Leaf by Stephen Michael King: Brilliant for many reasons, none more so than the story being told in picture form only, opening up the chance for you and your child to tell the story together. This is the adventure of a boy trying to escape his haircut, heading outside instead, and resulting in a beautiful tale of seeds growing for future generations.
Rufus the Numbat by David Miller: Rufus doesn’t even know he’s on an adventure when he heads from the city back to his home in the bush. But the people he’s encountered sure do. He causes all sorts of chaos and mishap, from sending a cyclist flying to getting under the feet of a dragon at the grand parade. The greatest appeal of this story is the amazing paper sculpture illustrations and the unusual contrast between the slow, methodical text and frantic visual scenes.
Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French: If there’s any picture book author who knows about life outdoors, it’s Jackie French. Farmer, gardener, former echidna milker (true story!) and wombat-lover, she tells the tale of a week in the life of a wombat. Just one glance at Bruce Whatley’s gorgeous illustrations will have your child asking for this story NOW!
My Little World by Julia Cooke: Walking with her family, this child tries so hard to see all the things her grandmother and big brother can see. But she just can’t. The disappointment, however, soon turns to excitement when she realises that there are just as many things to discover at her height, and she revels in watching her own version of this interesting world. Complete with accurate illustrations of Australian plants and creatures, this story shows children that there are amazing things all around nature: high and low.
PS – during the day, take the books outside for a read in between play times too!
Megan Blandford is a writer, blogger and book reviewer. She spends her time running after her adventurous toddler, laughing at her husband’s (sometimes) lame jokes, baking too many sweets and daydreaming far too often.