Inspire your kids to go outside, and de-stress, with books on nature

By Cindy Hudson

Stress. It used to be thought of as affecting mostly adults, but more and more studies are showing kids suffer from it too. One antidote? Experiencing nature in some way. Research has shown that even seeing things like trees and grass outside a window has positive effects on humans, and taking a walk among nature is even better. But with so many enticements to keep kids indoors, how do you help them develop a love of nature and want to be in it? One possibility is to encourage them to read books that depict children like them interacting with the natural world. Stories have always had the power to spark curiosity and create interest, leading readers to be aware of the world around them in a new way.

Check out this great selection of books showing people from different walks of life experiencing nature and discovering what it means to them. There’s also a book for parents with easy ways to get their kids outside and active every day.

Picture Books for Ages 3 to 6

Apples and Robins

by Lucie Félix

Young children learn shapes and colors through this sweet story of bird and garden life just outside the window. The final pages almost burst with life and color as the signs of spring appear.

The Curious Garden

by Peter Brown

One little boy finds he can make a difference in the world around him by caring for a struggling garden.

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in
Animal Lives

by Lola M. Schaefer

How many eggs will a spider lay in its lifetime? How many antlers will a caribou shed? These questions and more are answered in this book that combines math and nature.

Early Readers

Every Day on Earth: Fun Facts That Happen Every 24 Hours

by Steve Murrie and Matthew Murrie, illustrated by Tom Bloom

Kids will have fun reading these unbelievable facts about animals, people, plants, food, technology, and even space.

Curious George Plants a Tree

by Margret and H.A. Rey

George can't wait to pitch in with the science museum's recycling program and plant trees in his community.

Animal Planet Adventures: Dolphin Rescue

by Catherine Nichols

A combination of fact and fiction, readers will enjoy learning about life near the ocean while following along as a brother and sister solve a mystery.

9 to 12 Year Olds

Heart of a Shepherd

by Rosanne Perry

This tender story reveals the heart of today’s ranching communities and the values that keep those communities together: the importance of family, the church, love of and service to our country, and neighbors pulling together during times of crisis.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp

by Kathi Appelt

This tale brings together creatures great and small in a story that will make you laugh, learn a little, and maybe even wipe a tear or two as you cheer their efforts to save the swamp where they live.

Sweet Home Alaska

by Carole Estby Dagg

When her family moves to Alaska as homesteaders in the 1930s, a plucky girl has to be self-sufficient and creative to make friends and get what she needs to thrive.

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Graham rust

This classic book is about two lonely children who bond while bringing life back to a neglected garden. Broken hearts mend as they work.


by Carl Hiaasen

There are lots of plot twists and humor in this story of three kids who take on the establishment to save the home of burrowing owls.

Restoring Harmony

by Joelle Anthony

This dystopian story about a future world with gasoline and food shortages is sure to help you appreciate the world we live in now.

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

Racial tensions and the civil rights movement underlie this story of a family of beekeepers and the child they accept into their fold.

15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids

by Rebecca Cohen

Going outside every day with your kids is easier than you think; Cohen presents simple suggestions that will work for most families.