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With Spring on it's way and the promise of time to spend outdoors in the better weather, here's a fabulous selection of books that will help you and your children enjoy your garden and the great outdoors and perhaps even discover a life-long hobby in the making.
Very attractive to look at, clearly laid out and including lots of questions for readers and suggestions for things they can do after reading, this is a very good first information book. It begins with a definition of nature and goes on to look at plants and trees, then animals, insects, birds and fish explaining such things as food chains and life cycles and how all creatures from tiny bugs to huge whales are classified into groups. The illustrations are very appealing, particularly those of the flowers and trees, and it’s a book to encourage children to look at the world around them. ~ Andrea Reece
Maps are wonderful things and this practical and inspiring book explains to children perhaps too used to relying on satnavs and iPhones how to use maps, and even how to make them. It’s full of fascinating facts on the different ways humans have invented to represent the world on paper and to safely navigate the globe. The information is clearly laid out and very attractive to look at, and this is a book to encourage browsing. Justin Miles is an explorer and adventurer and the final sections suggest kids head out on their own expeditions; they might very well be inspired to do that after reading this book. ~ Andrea Reece
A lot can happen in 4.6 billion years, and this compact little information book aims to bring readers up to date on the key things that have occurred since the Earth was formed by taking a close and detailed look at nature. Indeed, it opens with a quote from Albert Einstein: ‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better’. A variety of topics are covered and the mix of friendly, engaging text and bright, appealing illustrations convey a great deal of facts and outline the thinking behind them. There are also regular suggestions for experiments readers can do – clearly explained – to back up the theory. This will appeal to any young person eager to learn more about the natural world. ~ Andrea Reece
This unusual interactive picture book is full of interesting lessons on the natural world for very young children. Each spread features a different natural habitat, from the back garden to the mountain top via meadows and deserts. Four lines of rhyming text set each scene and issue a challenge, then it’s up to the reader to lift the large die-cut flaps and see what’s growing underneath. The illustrations are mostly in muted mono-colours, but the stylised plants, berries and insects underneath the flaps are represented in vibrant colour. This will be very satisfying for young children, and is a visual feast for grown-ups too. ~ Andrea Reece
It’s four years since the National Trust challenged young children to get off their sofas and do something more exciting outside, and this handy guide/scrapbook is just the thing to encourage exactly that this summer. Most of the fifty things can be accomplished close to home in gardens or parks, though they’re no less rewarding for that, and as each one is accomplished, children can record it in the book with a date and signature. There are tips and extra suggestions on every page and the inclusion of three characters created by illustrator Tom Percival make it all seem more friendly and fun. Sturdy enough to withstand being taken on expeditions, this is a very good buy as the summer holidays approach. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “This handy little book has everything you could want to see you through the holidays, a sunny weekend, or even a rainy day in the house. And with plenty of pages to personalise and memories to make, it’s a book you’re sure to treasure for years to come.”
This chunky board book is both a lovely ABC and the story of an exciting Springtime walk in the country. Two little friends, a girl and a boy, set out on a day out, backpacks full and wellies on their feet. And what a fun-filled day they have, flying a kite, splashing in puddles, catching tadpoles, sailing toy yachts, and finding all sorts of animals, birds and minibeasts. Rosalind Beardshaw’s illustrations are full of joy and this should set young children clamouring to get their boots on and to dash outside for adventures of their own. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “It’s rare to find an alphabet book with so much heart, but this little book is brimming with it. Beautiful scenes from nature and adorable young characters will melt the heart of any parent, while little ones will love Ros Beardshaw’s bright palette and friendly animals. Why not use this book as a starting point for your own alphabet nature walk?” There's a companion title; A Walk in the Countryside 123.
The natural world is full of patterns and this eye-catching book will set children thinking about that while honing their counting and observational skills, and extending their vocabulary. Illustrations of living things, animals and plants, are grouped on bright double-page spreads according to pattern – spotty, stripy, speckled – and readers are challenged to name what they see and to spot the odd one out. Use of colour and design makes the pages exciting to look at and the sturdy boards with pattern-coded tabs make this very tactile. An excellent early-learning book this provides lots of potential for sharing and discussion. ~ Andrea Reece
A counting book, an introduction to colours, and a first word book, this is also a feast for the eye. Groups of natural objects are sorted by colour and illustrated in flamboyant style. The red pages bring together tomatoes, maple leaves, cherries and chilies – can the reader find them all, can they count them? Use the sturdy colour-coded tabs and turn to the page of your choice: green is particularly energising, featuring chameleons, avocados, parrots, water lilies and limes; while on the pink page cockatoos and river dolphins share the space. New publisher Wide Eyed Editions continue to refresh the world of information books, approaching projects with style as well as substance. ~ Andrea Reece
A garden can be anywhere - in pots, on a balcony, an allotment or a garden at home or school - and this is the perfect book to get you started! Packed full of simple gardening tips, interesting information, recipes and gorgeous illustrations, learn how to plant, nurture and even eat the things you grow!
Children of all ages should be introduced to Farmer Pettson and his talking cat, the irrepressible Findus. They’ve been favourites with readers in Europe for decades and it’s great to see this new edition which comes with the endorsement of Philip Pullman. Pettson is having one of those days and doesn’t want to do anything other than sit glumly and feel sorry for himself. Findus is cheerier than ever and determined to lift Pettson’s spirits. He knows a fishing trip will do it and devises an ingenious plan to get Pettson down to the lake. The relationship between the two – familiarity, exasperation, tenderness – is beautifully portrayed and the illustrations are full of charm. With a longer text than most picture books, this is a satisfying story for bedtime, or anytime and is the 9th in the series. ~ Andrea Reece You might also like the charming story of Findus Goes Camping. Nathan Large, translator of the Findus books, says: "Illustrator Sven Nordqvist and his odd creations Pettson and Findus are household names in their native Sweden and beyond. Over the past two decades their books have been translated into 29 languages and read by millions (It can take a while for us English-speakers to catch up with what the rest of the world is reading). Cranky old Pettson and his stripey-trousered cat have developed a cult following among both children and adults, and when you meet them you’ll understand why."
From exploring the great out-doors to exploring great cities let some of these books be your children's guide.
Join some experts in each of their fields and let them guide you through birds and wildlife in your garden and beyond, get your children growing their own vegetables, learn about survival and so much more.
So leave that computer or television behind and get out there and enjoy yourselves!
Click here to download an activity pack, produced by Julia Green, the author of The Wilderness War, full of exciting outdoor activities to do including building a campfire, making a pond, ID the trees around you, go tracking animals and lots more.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.