Ten of the Best Books Connecting Children with Nature

There’s no substitute for observing the natural world around us at first hand, whether we live in an urban or a rural environment. Books can develop this interest, delving more deeply and widely, and help us to expand our ideas about what constitutes a wild place. Ann Lazim chooses ten that help children to do that and provide the groundwork for going beyond appreciating nature to protecting the environment


A First Book of Nature

Nicola Davies and Mark Hearld, Walker, 978-1406349160, £12.99 pbk

No contemporary children’s author has done more to connect children with nature than Nicola Davies and it’s hard to choose just one book from her prolific output. Here seasonal sections range over many aspects of the natural world visible at a child’s level. Mixed media illustrations

which make particularly effective use of collage complement a text which includes verse and prose, conveying information in a variety of ways. A book that will repay many revisits as the year rolls by, encouraging exploration of nature and inspiring children’s own artwork.

The Lost Words Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, Hamish Hamilton,

978-0241253588, £20 hbk

Jackie Morris’s stunningly beautiful and closely observed paintings

encourage children

to revisit them again and again to explore the details and to seek out what she depicts for themselves, whether it’s a shiny conker,

a starling, a feather

or a moorland landscape where the heather grows. This collaboration with nature writer Robert Macfarlane who wrote

the poems accompanying the pictures is indeed spellbinding. The act of naming which provoked creation of this book is so significant for our appreciation of nature – helping us to make connections between living things as well as with them.

8 Books for Keeps No.247 March 2021

Wildlife in Your Garden Mike Dilger and Sarah Horne, Bloomsbury 978-1472913432, £12.99 pbk

Exceptionally clear photographs make this a useful guide to the variety of animals, birds and insects that may be found in British gardens. However, this is much more than an identification guide. Each section of the book is devoted to an area such as trees, shrubs and hedges; ponds; wild areas, compost heaps and log piles, and culminates in suggestions for attracting wildlife to that area. The

layout is enticing with information set out like jottings from a notebook. Humorous illustrations are incorporated into the design of each spread.

RSPB Children’s Guide to Nature Watching Mark Boyd, Bloomsbury, 978-1408187579, £9.99 pbk

The RSPB’s remit goes beyond protecting birds and is concerned with conservation and education about wildlife in general.


guide for young naturalists, while being too large for most pockets, could comfortably be slipped into a backpack for expeditions. A wildlife key with helpful questions sets readers on the right track to identification of different varieties

of wildlife. There’s lots of practical information about when and where to look and about the different habitats that exist to explore.

Ann Lazim is Literature and Library Development Manager at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in London.

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