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! Favorite Preschool-Aged Books about Nature?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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The writing goes well! But I think it will be for 'young adults' / older teenagers.
 
master steward
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This thread. Thanks Anne for pointing it out on today's daily-ish!

One that is just awesome about noticing and taking time for the beautiful outdoors might be no longer in print. I bought it at a library book sale, and then, after my kids were grown, I gave it to some dear friends. It's called Come to the Meadow by Anna Grossnickle Hines. It pulls all my heart strings just so, that I often choke up reading it. I don't think most people would choke up as I do though.


(source)

Anna Grossnickle Hines' books were some of my kids' favorites. Not usually nature focused, but full of wholesome family whimsy, always with an undertone of caring.

Also VERY fun, as I posted about is Bigfoot Cinderrrrrella by Tony Johnston. Being from the Pacific Northwest, big foot / sasquatch legends abound and I really love how this tale turns the Cinderella story around into one of appreciating nature and one's own natural beauty. With *great* kid humor, by the way!!



Now, I need a whole thread about Barbara Helen Berger children's books. These are my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS for my kids. I even pine for these books as an adult. Seriously. These books feed my soul like not many others. Maybe it's because the author is a Pacific Northwest artist, I don't know.

Animalia (Amazon link at left, though Amazon no longer carries it) - thirteen small tales of kindness between holy people and animals. Each is told on a double-page spread in calligraphy with art inspired by illuminated manuscripts.

(source)

I should admit that a couple of Berger's books did not resonate with me and my kids, though all of these DID in a big way (descriptions following, and above about Animalia, are from the author's website):
Grandfather Twilight - An old man made of sky goes out walking at the end of each day. In his hand, he carries a single pearl that grows with every step until, “Gently, he gives the pearl to the silence above the sea.”
The Donkey's Dream - As he walks along, a donkey dreams he is carrying a city, a ship, a fountain, a rose, then a “lady full of heaven” upon his back. When the lady gives birth in a cave, she calls the donkey to her: “See what we have carried all this way, you and I.” A Christmas picture book rich in symbols of the feminine, with an author’s note at the end.
When the Sun Rose - A magic friend comes with her lion from the yellow rose of the rising sun. She stays to play: “The lion purred. And we made rainbows all day.” At sunset, the friend must leave, but she promises to return. “Now it is dark. My friend is gone. But she will come again, I know, for the rainbow we made is still on the wall. And my house is full of roses.”
Gwinna - ((NOTE: this one is not for preschoolers, it's too big and long, but is such a fanciful tale with beautiful pictures of nature and animals that it's worth a mention!)) - GWINNA is the story of a girl who has wings but does not know it. When she hears a mysterious song in the wind, it fills her with longing. Led by a small white owl, Gwinna sets out on a quest, finding her wings, her own power of flight, and at last the harp she longs for. This is a girl’s initiation fairytale in chapters, with full-color art throughout.



 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Oh gosh, I found/remembered a set of books that my kids loved, not for the overt nature educational value, but because the little details in the illustrations were so sweetly nature inspired.

It's the Cyndy Szekeres' Tiny Paw Library put out by Golden Books, and now possibly out of print. ??? We read these over and over again about a little mouse family, in their little mouse house(s) making their things out of nut shells, eating seeds and nuts, and generally living in and with nature.

The titles included:
A Busy Day
Moving Day
A Mouse Mess
The New Baby
A Fine Mouse Band

We also had Cyndy Szekeres' A B C board book, which while geared toward toddlers, was still enjoyable for preschoolers because of her illustrations - many nature inspired again. I think she had G is for goldenrod, if I recall!

And I want to be the Lupine Lady (Miss Rumphius), too, by the way. ;-)

 
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I love Lois Ehlert (her "Fish Eyes" was/is a favorite with our kids and grandkids). Thanks for the tip on "Planting a Rainbow": I'll check that one out, as well as some of the others referenced in this forum.

My absolute favorite book with a nature theme is Ruth Heller's The Reason for a Flower (here's a link, with reviews; you can hear it read here). "The reason for a flower is to manufacture seeds!". It was a gift from a botanist friend to my youngest son upon his birth, and he must have heard it read (and read it) a thousand times!

Andy
 
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"The Longest, Darkest  Night"  A story about the Lunar Eclipse on Winter Solstice.   Very sweet and dear.  Now for the Holidays it comes with the Audio Book read by the author with all the animals in their different voices and there is a song.    So Sweet!
 
pollinator
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Waaaayyyy back 3 years ago, Nicole wrote:

That's not to say they need to be non-fiction

so I'd like to put my vote in that some of them do need to be non-fiction! I admit my eldest was an outlier, but one of his favourite books at age two was called, "Turtles, Toads and Frogs". It's been long since loved to death, but it supports the point I'm going to make. There are some excellent nature books with good pictures and short descriptions that really appeal to young children and I would meet other parents at our local library who were shocked that I would be looking for good young children's non-fiction as well as fiction. This can be more true of boys (later supported by our Elementary School Librarian) and I have to admit that both my kids used to be boys, (but they'd like to be called "men" now!), but with the state of science education in some areas, I would encourage parents to try non-fiction out on their daughters and sons. A number of the books mentioned by people sound close to non-fiction, but it would be difficult for me to be sure of that just from the title. We need all humans in the next generation to be science and "true story" literate without scaring them with how desperate the planet is.

I agree with most of what has been said about what makes a good children's story, especially the excellent post by Erica, but I will add that parents need to observe their children and ask them what they like about certain books. My younger son was more sensitive than my older one (he was terrified of Shrek when it first came out for example) so whether a child can handle some books about evil does depend on the child. Non-fiction was very much our friend with him - in Grade 4 his favourite series was by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods, specifically, Ancient machines : from wedges to waterwheels. The above mentioned school librarian insisted they were grade 7 reading level, but when a child loves a subject and has a parent willing to read with them, there's no better way to inspire a child than a challenging book about a subject they can relate to.
 
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Jay Angler wrote: The above mentioned school librarian insisted they were grade 7 reading level, but when a child loves a subject and has a parent willing to read with them, there's no better way to inspire a child than a challenging book about a subject they can relate to.



Amen to this! A big thing at a lot of schools I worked at was for kids to read ONLY in their reading level. I found that utter hogwash. Sure, it can be helpful in some ways, but I was NOT interested in reading. I was in remedial reading until 4th grade when my mom introduced me to Norby by Issacc Asimov, and I quickly started reading longer and longer sci-fi and fantasy books. By 5th grade, I was reading at a 10th grade reading level. In the span of one or two years, I went from reading Dr. Seuss and Bernstein Bears, to reading 300+ page adult fantasy. I learned so fast because I loved the books. If I'd been forced to read at my level, that would not have happened.

I also agree on reading lots of non-fiction, too. My son LOVES the "Amphibians are Animals"/"Mollusks are Animals" etc series of books I picked up because the school I was working at bought new books.

He loves reading our rainforest book, and national geographic kids magazines we found at a yard sale, as well as all of our other non-fiction books. The kid even wants me to read him a geology textbook he found, and he's 5!

When I worked in a preschool, kids were just as interested in the science books as the fiction books, as long as the science books were well written...but then, the same applies to fiction. There's a lot of drab fiction out there, just as there's non-fiction books that aren't that exciting or interesting.
 
pollinator
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I like 'The Tomtes of Hilltop Wood', 'The Tomtes of Hilltop Farm' and 'The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream'. In the first book some children and the wood tomtes stop the building of a road through their special wood, in the second they stop some factory farmers from buying a farm by instead turning it into a productive mixed farm and teaching the goats and hens to be less naughty, in the third book they clean up a stream. These books are probably best for ages 4-7.

For younger children, 'Pelle's new suit' is a favourite of mine, where we learn about where clothes come from, and all the cooperation and skills involved in making a little boy his new suit out of his lamb's wool.

'The Story of the Root Children' is great, the abridged board book version is good for very young children.

'The Children of the Forest' is a nice story, going through the seasons. Elsa Beskow's edition of 'Thumbelina' also goes through the seasons really well. I like her illustrations a lot.

Grimm's 'The Hut in the Forest' has a nice message about caring for animals.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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When I was a child (yes, that's very long ago) I loved non-fiction, and stories based upon real facts. There aren't books I can mention here. What I loved most was the education I received by my parents, who were both real nature-lovers (my mother still is). If I remember well ... we made walks in the woods or other natural regions every weekend. Every time we were told about plants and birds or whatever we saw around us.

We lived in a suburb of a big city, but we learned: nature is everywhere. You only have to open your eyes to see it (and hear it)
 
pollinator
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I can't wait to read all these lovely books!!   (Being a child at my 72 yo heart :)   A book that truly touched me that I found at the age of about 10, at our 'bookstore', Goodwill, was "Wild Animals I Have Known" by Ernest Thompson Seton.  It's not for pre-school, but I can't help mentioning it  : )
 
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30 plus years ago, I was lucky enough to find an OLD set of Uncle Wiggly books to read to my little boys (am combing through the attic now to see if I can find them as I await the birth of my granddaughter due next week)  While Uncle Wiggly wasn't exactly teaching nature stuff, what preschooler wouldn't like hearing stories about a funny bespectacled rabbit building and traveling in his own balloon air basket?  I also have at the ready my personal favorite, Skunny Wundy, Seneca Indian Tales.  And last but not least, Old Mother West Wind.  ALL of these older books bring back fond memories, built a great foundation/love of nature  (and who needs to BUY NEW when there are so many OLD books that need new homes or libraries to borrow from?)
This was a fun thread to read, especially since I had just started cleaning the attic; how timely!
 
Kate Downham
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One book I forgot to mention earlier is 'The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies'. It's a book of poems and beautiful illustrations about plants. My children enjoy seeing plants in there that they recognise from outside and hearing the poems about them.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I NEED that book! I totally want to make little fairies to match the fairies in there. A little poppy fairy. A thistle fairy, etc. I LOVE how the fairies match their flowers. It's just too perfect!
 
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