Outdoor Themes and Spring Reading

As Earth Day approaches and the warm weather calls us outdoors more often, we appreciate the gifts of our natural surroundings. Below are some earthy-friendly selections to encourage an appreciation of nature in young readers. Also included is a guide for young girls on what to wear in warmer weather, a hilarious book on what kids think of summer camp, and a few young-adult favorites to take along on car trips or vacations. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, one selection is an adorable board book written by the parents of a child with autism.

Encourage children to explore the natural world with four new paperback titles about observing nature’s activities and cycles: Nature’s Miracles Once There Was a Caterpillar, Once There Was a Seed, Once There Was a Raindrop and Once There Was a Tadpole by Judith Anderson and Mike Gordon (Barron’s, each $5.99). Ages 4-7.

We Planted a Tree (Golden Books, $17.99) is the perfect “green” choice for children, parents and educators. This simple poem about a family in Brooklyn and a family in Africa who both plant a tree celebrates the unity of purpose we can exercise to create a bright future. Written by Bob Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake. Ages 5-8.

Ms. Frizzle’s class is putting on a play about global warming and they need some cold, hard facts. They travel from the Arctic to the equator to get hands-on experience with climate change. The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge (Scholastic, $16.99) is the latest in a well-loved series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan. Ages 7-10.

PS I Hate It Here (Abrams, $12.95) by Diane Falanga is a hilarious collection of real letters from children at sleepaway camp that covers everything from homesickness to the need for candy and the fun of camp cabin wars. Parents and children alike will enjoy reading about this rite of passage. Ages 8 and up.

Two new selections (American Girl, $9.95 each) give young girls advice on fashion and having fun in the outdoors. Jazz up a spring wardrobe with tips from A Smart Girl’s Guide to Style: How to Have Fun with Fashion, Shop Smart, and Let Your Personal Style Shine Through by Sharon Cindrich and Shannon Laskey. And enjoy games and craft ideas for the outdoors with The Cutest Nature Book Ever! by Carrie Anton, illustrated by Jen Skelley. Includes easy-to-follow instructions for preserving things found in nature. Both for ages 8 and up.

Look Who Is Coming (VaZu Kids, $13.99) by Zuma Ayriyan and John Khachatryan is a premiere title lift-the-flap book that can be personalized by including photos of a child and the child’s friends and family. The concept for the book arose specifically to address the needs of the authors’ young son who was diagnosed with autism, but allows all children to be the star of their own story. Ages 8 months and up.

Falling In (Athenum, $16.99 ) by local author Frances O’Roark Dowell is the story of Isabelle Bean, a middle school misfit who fancies herself a changeling. When Isabelle investigates a strange buzzing at her school, she falls into an amazing adventure. Dowell also is the author of Dovey Coe, Chicken Boy and the Secret Language of Girls. Falling In was chosen by New Moon Girls online community as the March book club pick. Ages 8-12.

The Sky is Everywhere (Dial, $17.99) is an acclaimed debut novel by Jandy Nelson. Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, spends most of her time in the shadow of her outgoing older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, finds herself struggling to balance two. Ages 14 and up.

Going Bovine (Delacorte Press, $17.99) by Libba Bray takes readers on the road trip of a lifetime. This story chronicles the dark comedic journey of Cameron Smith, a 16-year-old who sets off on a road trip to find a cure for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after being diagnosed with the illness, which is more commonly known as mad cow disease. Winner of the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Ages 14 and up.

Categories: Baby, Baby Health, Early Education, Early Learning, Education, Elementary Years, Green Living, Lifestyle, New Parent, Preschoolers, Teens, Tweens and Teens