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Picture Books in Nature Study: A Parent’s Guide

Picture books in nature study work well for all ages. This guide has everything you need to get started.

Picture books in nature study work well for all ages. This guide has everything you need to get started.

Photo by Amy Law

Reading books is at the root of most of our learning, and nature study is no exception. When we first started homeschooling my children were just six and nine years old and reading aloud was part of our nature study. Three years later my children and I still enjoy reading books to enhance our nature studies.

Field guides are important to have on hand for identification and information, but I also think there’s a place for books meant to be read cover-to-cover. Picture books provide us with beautiful photos or artwork, information presented at a child’s level, and sometimes even a story interwoven with the facts. Reading nature-themed literature isn’t a substitute for time spent outside in nature, but it can be a wonderful addition to direct observation and experience.

Picture books in nature study work well for all ages. This guide has everything you need to get started.

What Are The Benefits of Reading Picture Books in Coordination With Our Nature Studies?

  1. In books you can learn about things that would be very difficult to observe in nature, like the migration of monarch butterflies or how bees dance to show where to find nectar.
  2. Pictures and information in a book can encourage you to look for things in nature, like animal tracks or leaf and bud scale scars on tree branches.
  3. Books can help bring new understand about things that seem common. For instance, seeing seeds traveling on our dog’s fur we have a sense of amazement when we remember that is how plants can spread to a new area!

Nature Book Recommendations

Sometimes I look up a specific nature study topic, and I might even request one through inter-library loan. Other times we peruse the nonfiction section and grab a book that looks interesting. Keep in mind that some books may not be in the nonfiction section—we’ve found some wonderful nature-themed books in the beginning reader and picture book section of our library.

We regularly utilize series like The Magic School Bus or authors like Gail Gibbons or Seymour Simon.

We also enjoy these series that offer books at various reading levels:

  • Let’s Read and Find Out
  • National Geographic Kids Readers
  • DK Readers
  • Blastoff Readers: Backyard Wildlife
  • Bookworms’ Guess Who? series.

You can accomplish two goals at once when your early reader practices with nature-themed books!

Nature Study Books to Enjoy In Your Homeschool

Here are some specific books we’ve enjoyed:

  • Outside and Inside Trees by Sandra Markle
  • Animal Tracks by Arthur Dorros
  • Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith
  • The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola
  • All About Owls by Jim Arnosky
  • Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane by Victoria Sherrow

More Nature Picture Books

Planting a Rainbow Book Activities – After reading the book, my daughter worked on a color-matching game and did a flower craft.

Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story is a beautiful picture book biography about the author of The Handbook of Nature Study. Anna Botsford Comstock was passionate about children getting out of the classroom and into nature to learn first hand about our beautiful world.

Charlotte Mason Picture Book biography: The Teacher Who Revealed Worlds of Wonder

Picture books in nature study work well for all ages. This guide has everything you need to get started.

The Outdoor Hour Challenges Bring The Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool!

For even more homeschool nature study ideas for all seasons, join us in Homeschool Nature Study membership! You’ll receive new ideas each and every week that require little or no prep – all bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool!

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

Heidi homeschools her two children in Maine using an eclectic mix including Charlotte Mason’s ideas, quality literature and hands-on learning. She strives to show her children that learning is an exciting, life long adventure. She shares their experiences on her blog, Home Schoolroom.

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