A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for kids -- and their parents -- on the joys of outdoor play, exploration, and discovery!
For many kids, there's nothing more fun than the chance to play outside! The winter's thaw has already provided plenty of opportunities for puddle jumping and planning this year's garden, and soon nicer weather and the end of the school year will soon provide more opportunities for hiking, beach trips, and lots of outdoor playtime. Best of all, it’s good for them: research shows how much benefit kids get from unstructured play outside.
To celebrate the joys of the great outdoors, we’ve collected many of our favorite Mighty Girl books about all the wonders that outdoor play has to offer. The Mighty Girls in these stories have plenty of imagination, along with bundles of energy, and the end result is lots of outdoor fun. We've also included a selection of books for parents about just how important it is to let your kids get out in the sun, sand, and dirt of outdoor games and ideas on how to build more outdoor time into your family's busy schedule.
For books that celebrate the arrival of spring, especially the fun of gardening, check out our blog post 30 Mighty Girl Books Celebrating Springtime & Gardening.
For more books for children and teens that celebrate the wonders and joys of nature, visit our Nature & Environment section.
Mighty Girl Books About Playing Outside
There’s something about enjoying the outdoors with a child that makes even the ordinary magical! These books highlight the wonderful, creative — and sometimes messy — fun that Mighty Girls can have outside.
Outdoor play provides the opportunity to explore everything your body can do! In this fun story for very young children, a little girl imitates the animals she sees around her — from dogs and cats to monkeys and ants — to learn to do everything from walking to exploring the world around her. Taro Gomi’s eye-catching artwork features a constantly-moving little girl who’s ready to take her lessons anywhere, while always maintaining her sense of wonder.
Maisy and her friends are so excited: they're going on a nature walk! They all meet up at the park entrance, and get ready to explore. They peek inside the pond and discover all sorts of plants and animals: Charley says hello to the tadpoles, fish, and dragonfly. In the woods, Maisy looks for insects, including a bunch of busy ants. Other animals are more shy, and the group can't tell if they saw a deer or a fox... but with Maisy's binoculars, she can get a close look at the birds in the treetops! This sweet story of outdoor adventure and discovery is sure to inspire kids to take their own nature walks.
Stella and her little brother Sam are off for a day at the beach! Exuberant Stella is excited, but Sam, who's never been there before, is nervous So he tries to avoid the possibility of going for a swim with endless questions: does a sea horse gallop? What are starfish? Stella is full of imaginative replies, including telling Sam you can ride a sea horse bareback and that starfish are shooting stars that fell in love with the sea. In the end, her creativity and excitement win Sam over, and soon both siblings are happily floating in the waves. Fans of this book can also check out Stella and Sam's forest adventure in Stella, Fairy of the Forest.
A little girl on a forest walk lets readers know that "The forest has lots to say… if you listen." The trees go creak, the leaves say rustle. She can even hear the bird in her nest and the beetle on a branch! In fact, the more that she slows down and pays attention, the more that she can hear. Each page spread in this contemplative and mindful picture book features onomatopoeic text and the child's brief thoughts about what the sound could mean: are the trees trying to catch clouds? It's a quiet and elegant celebration of the beauty to be found in nature's sights — and sounds.
On a hot summer day, this little girl finds all sorts of ways to entertain herself: butterfly catching, swimming, picnics, and lemonade are just the beginning! Nighttime brings its own special things to explore: owls, frogs, and more. But even this bundle of energy can’t stay awake forever, and soon she’s dreaming of more adventures to come! This cute story celebrates the small but special details of summer. Fans of this story will want to check out two other books starring this irrepressible girl, Tracks In The Snow and Who Likes Rain?.
This little girl is princess-crazy but she also loves to climb trees, ride trikes, play in the dirt, and many other “non-princess” things. Or are they? The only way to find out is to ask her very patient mother! One question at a time, her mother tells her that, yes, princesses do all the same things that any little girl does — yes, even doing chores and eating their crusts. This funny story, one of several books about what it really means to be a princess by Carmela LaVigna Coyle, is a great way to remind your Mighty Girl that there’s nothing mutually exclusive about princesses and outdoor play!
"This morning, Mama saw a deer. Dad and Sara saw it too," the narrator of this book begins. But she missed it; she is little and by the time she'd gotten dressed, the deer was gone. It's one of many disappointments for the youngest, smallest family member, who can't watch the shooting stars because they're past her bedtime and can't reach high enough to pick the first apples of the fall. But when she sets out in hopes of seeing the deer, she discovers that being little and quiet can sometimes unveil some of nature's most beautiful secrets... like the tiny fawn lying in the grass. Lyrical text and exquisite cut-paper illustrations combine in a heartfelt book that captures the power of connecting with nature and the specialness of being small.
Fans of Ladybug Girl (and her alter ego, Lulu) will love this story of finding the courage to try new things! Lulu has been dying to go to the beach but when she gets there, the ocean is so much bigger than she expected. At first, she keeps to the sand, but when a wave scoops up her favorite pail, Lulu will need Ladybug Girl’s courage to go in for the rescue! This story is perfect to share with any young child who’s looking forward to a beach trip — or wondering nervously if the beach is really all it’s cracked up to be.
Blip the robot thinks she'll find everything she needs on her computer screen: while plugged in, she learns interesting facts, listens to music, tries new dance moves, and even "visits" faraway places. But when a power outage pushes Blip into the analog world, she discovers that there's much more to life than what she saw online! Author / illustrator Steve Antony switches from a black and grey world of pixels to vibrant shapes and colors as Blip discovers that everything she did virtually can be done in real life... and that it's much more fun with friends. Clever and cheerful, this book is a fun reminder for kids that computers are just a tool, and that there's a big world waiting for them to explore!
In the CloudsNew!
In the CloudsNew!
"Hello, little friend!" a girl says to a bird on a cloudy day. "Are you as bored as I am?" She asks the bird to take her above the clouds, so she can see if the sun really is shining so high in the sky. Along her journey, she contemplates even more questions: how do clouds float, especially if they carry rain? Where do they go when there are no clouds in the sky? She even wonders: have the clouds ever seen a little girl like her? With gorgeous paper diorama illustrations, Elly MacKay captures the curiosity and wonder inspired by the great outdoors, and urges daydreamers (both big and small) to let their imaginations soar.
In this classic Mighty Girl picture book, a little girl named Sal heads out with her mother to pick blueberries — right around the time a little bear cub and his mother do the same! Thanks to a pair of youngsters who are paying more attention to the sweet blueberries than to where they’re going, the two families get mixed up, and soon it’s Sal tailing the mother bear and the bear cub following Sal’s mom. Fortunately, in the end two children — with very full tummies — end up in their homes where they belong. This Caldecott Honor book has been a favorite since 1949, so it’s perfect for introducing to yet another generation.
Nell and her dog Rusty have been waiting for that special day when trees unfreeze, grass starts to turn green, and she finally gets to dig in the dirt to plant her pansies! But as far as her neighbor Norman is concerned, the dirt and the mess is just downright disgusting. Then Nell starts digging up unexpected treasures — a marble, Norman's lost toy dinosaur, even part of a tiny china doll. Norman's curiosity is piqued, and soon, he can't resist rolling up his own sleeves and discovering the joy of digging! This delightful story will get your kids ready to start their own excavations.
Sometimes the outdoor seems positively magical! The little girl in this story is on the hunt for fairies, both in her backyard and in the woods beyond. She's sure that, if she keeps looking, she'll find them! And even if she doesn't, the joy of being outdoors and exploring her imagination is enough. Kids will love the gentle verse of this book, but best of all, they'll enjoy spotting the fairies and other magical creatures hiding in the illustrations where the girl can't see them. It's sure to make them look at the world around them a little more carefully!
There are few things as special as the first moment of connection between friends! This little girl meets another girl while playing outside, and they seem to be perfectly in sync: "when i say la la la/ she says la la la." They make forays into imaginary games where each contributes their part, and when flowers in the garden get trampled accidentally, she knows just what to do to help. While she's never had a best friend before, this girl says "i think she is a really good best friend/ because when we were drawing/ she drew me/ and i drew her." Bestselling author Julie Fogliano and award-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki come together to create a joyful tribute to the heady first moments of a friendship begun in the great outdoors.
The little girl in this book has known nothing but nature from birth and she couldn’t be happier. Animals teach her to speak, eat, and play; what else does she need? When well-meaning humans find her and brings her to civilization, she’s perplexed — why do they insist on living in concrete boxes? — and then frustrated — how can they stand living without animals, without green, without wild? In the end, perhaps not all wild things can be tamed. Any parent who has called their child “wild thing” — and any child who’s dreamed of life in the woods — will enjoy this delightful tale.
When this little girl moves from a rural home to a new city, she's thrilled to discover a place called Butterfly Park... except behind the gates, there are no butterflies. As she makes friends with kids in the neighborhood, they all try catching butterflies and releasing them in the park, but the butterflies just fly away. Then the girl realizes that the butterflies need flowers to tempt them to stay, and soon, she's recruited the whole community to help plant butterfly-friendly plants so they can all enjoy Butterfly Park together. Elly MacKay's incredible lightbox diorama illustrations, made from painted paper, steal the show in this exquisite book, which even includes a poster of plants to make your own butterfly garden.
It may look like the land across the street is just a plain old rocky hill, but Marian knows that the spot she calls Roxaboxen is actually a world full of mysteries. In Roxaboxen, rocks, old crates, and weeds become jeweled homes, fancy streets, and many more wonders. In fact, anything can happen in Roxaboxen — anything you imagine, that is! And as anyone who’s been to Roxaboxen — or a place like it — knows, that’s not something you ever forget.This beautiful homage to the ability of children to build worlds, and keep them for the rest of their lives, is sure to have your kids building their own Roxaboxen in the backyard!
A little girl takes a trip to the beach where she finds herself exploring the playful, unpredictable ocean. illustrator Suzy Lee makes effective use of only two colors, grey and blue, and cleverly uses the gutter of the book as the shoreline, with the girl on the left page and the waves on the right — until the little girl dares to cross. The surf takes on the character of a new friend as the pair chase, duck, dodge, and splash; it even reveals some special treasures for the little girl to find. It’s sure to inspire dreams of special trips to the beach! Fans of this book will also want to check out Lee’s Shadow, which explores light, shadow, and the power of imagination.
When Grandma tucks her pants in her boots and grabs her walking stick, this little girl races to join her side! As they walk near Grandma's north woods home, both grandmother and granddaughter get to enjoy special experiences unique to each season — from the snowy nighttime hoot of an owl to the pleasures of fresh tomatoes from the garden — but most importantly, they get to spend extra time together. And when they do, they relish all the beauty that the forest has to offer. This charming story captures the joy of exploring nature with someone you love.
It's bedtime for Beatrice, but she doesn't want to go — she'd rather stay outside! In fact, she wishes she could become a tree, one which would stay outside all night long and reach roots deep into the ground. She imagines herself growing tall, leafy branches that catch sunlight and shelter birds, and shedding her leaves in the winter so she can stay snuggled up until spring. Joyce Hesselberth, the award-winning creator of Pitter Pattern, uses Beatrice's imaginary time as a tree to introduce young readers to important science about trees and their impact on the planet. With extra backmatter packed with even more details, this is the perfect read aloud to encourage kids to see the trees outside their windows in a new way!
A little girl imagines a beautiful garden that starts with a single seed — and a stuffed bear — in this picture book inspired by the Pacific Street Brooklyn Bear’s Community Garden in Brooklyn, New York. Outside her window, there's a vacant lot that she envisions as "a place to grow, a play to play, and a place to love." She starts by planting one seed in a can, which she tends with her beloved stuffed panda. When the can topples and the seedling roots in the lot below, she carefully oversees its growth. The girl has to leave for a while, and leaves her bear to supervise... and when she returns, the community has come together to create something amazing! This charming picture book celebrates the joy of working together to create beauty in surprising places.
A girl and her father are out on a walk, and she has a plan: "Somewhere is where I wanted to go. Somewhere new. Somewhere I had never, ever been before." At the park, she lets go of his hand, ready to explore on her own. In a gigantic forest — part real, part imaginary — she slides down a giant leaf, discovers treasures like a shiny peso, and finally finds a perfect, quiet place. But then she starts thinking about how her father would love it here, and wonders if he's lonely... so she follows her steps back to his loving arms. This lyrical story by Robie H. Harris, with gorgeous watercolor illustrations by renowned Cuban artist Armando Mariño, is a celebration of the first moments of a child's independence — facilitated by a parent who knows when to let her run on ahead.
Moon is busy, busy, busy: school, lessons, sports, sleep, repeat. She's almost to busy to wonder what it would be like to slow down. Then, one night, she meets a wolf who takes her into a dark forest to play. There, she and the wolf howl, hide, run, and more. By the end of the night, Moon will discover how to be wild, how to be still... and how to be free. Simple text and evocative illustrations carry an important message for overscheduled kids about the importance of nature and play.
Little Witch Hazel is a tiny figure who lives in a cozy cottage in the woods — and devotes herself to helping the creatures around her. Through a year of four seasons in Mosswood, readers will follow Little Witch Hazel's adventures: rescuing an orphaned egg in the spring, takes a day off in summer; and investigates a mysterious cry from a (maybe haunted?) stump in autumn. And in winter, when Little Witch Hazel gets trapped in a blizzard during a busy day of doctoring her neighbors, one of her acts of kindness will be the key to her rescue! With beautiful illustrations and a gentle, evocative view of the natural world, this gorgeous book by award-winning author-illustrator Phoebe Wahl celebrates friendship, wildness, and seasonal changes.
Ernestine has a big adventure planned for this weekend: her first camping trip! Her single dad helps her pack everything on the list her aunt Jackie gave, and even helps her make some special trail mix. But when she gets to the campsite with Jackie and her cousin Samantha, Ernestine gets intimidated. Putting up a tent is hard, there are FISH in the lake she's supposed to swim in, and everything is so quiet and big. Fortunately, with a little encouragement (and a few s'mores), Ernestine realizes that she's up for these challenges! This exuberant story about both the joys and the downsides to a first camping trip provides a powerful lesson about the confidence that comes from getting out of your comfort zone.
A little girl is visiting her grandparents at the beach, where they live in a little house. When she walks along the shore looking at seashells, her grandmother tells her that they were little houses too. Soon the girl is asking all sorts of questions: Who lived in each shell? Where did they go? What else lives in the depths of the oceans where people don't go? Her loving grandparents encourage her curiosity: "The world is so big," Grandpa tells her, "and there is so much to know. And someday you’ll know it all." Best-selling author Kevin Henkes and award-winning painter Laura Dronzek collaborate to create an exquisite story about intergenerational relationship, the beauties of nature, and the wonder and curiosity that connects us all.
Winslow and Rosie love collecting natural objects, and today they are determined to find the perfect specimen to fill the very last space. They meander along the creek, through a forest, up a mountain, and even into a deep, dark cave. But everything they discover has some sort of flaw — too big, too heavy, not special enough. When they get home, though, they realize that knowledge is a treasure too... and when a bird makes a nest in front of the window, they realize that extraordinary things can happen right in from of your nose, too. This charming book, featuring Feagan's stunning cut-paper collages, is a celebration of outdoor discovery and nature collectors.
Maple syrup and sugar — and time outdoors to make it — is a little-known pleasure that comes with the first days of spring! In this charming, timeless story, Marsha Wilson Chall shows how, once the snow starts to melt, it's time to tap the trees, prepare the bottles, and simmer the syrup, all while enjoying special treats and stories that only come with sugaring time. Full of intriguing details about the traditional bucket-drop method of gathering sap, the warm, inviting illustrations and engaging text will leave kids savoring their next taste of maple syrup... or maybe asking for a visit to the sugarbush.
Dear Little OneNew!
Dear Little OneNew!
"Your time on Earth has just begun," begins this tribute to the beauties of nature. "Take in the sights. Take in the sound. Take in the scents that excite and astound." As a girl takes a nature walk, she examines all the wonders to be found in the natural world, from the intricate beauty of a spider's web to the enormous moose who accepts an offered apple. She and her pup find treasures everywhere they look, even in the dirt, where they find worms, bones, and fossils! And when the day is done, there are the glittering stars to admire, far up in the night sky. With vibrant artwork and lyrical text, this book is sure to inspire kids to explore the incredible world we live in.
Three outdoor-loving friends — Wren, El, and Hattie, along with Bean the dog — are going on a hike. It's their "favorite thing to do," but each of them has different talents to bring to bear: Wren brings her sketchbook, while El shows them how to make leaf baskets, and Hattie, the smallest, is the best at using their map to find her way. On their route, they observe the flora and fauna of the Western woodland, labeled in the illustrations; scientific backmatter, including a glossary, encourages kids to imagine what they might discover in their own backyards. This picture book is a tribute to friendship, exploration, and adventures in the great outdoors.
On a long hiking and camping trip with her aunt and uncle, Rhoda makes a beeline for what she loves most: rocks! Everywhere she looks there are rocks with different patterns and colors and textures, and all of her treasures end up in her increasingly heavy backpack. By the last day, though, her pack is too heavy to lift. Fortunately, she comes up with a clever solution — one that will allow her to share the beauty of her finds with future hikers. This charming story of a nature-loving girl will inspire kids to indulge their own scientific curiosity, and give them new perspective on the things they see every day.
This little girl knows that too many people miss one of the best things about the great outdoors: rocks! After all, you can do a lot with a rock. As readers follow her through the pages, she skips rocks, sorts them, builds with them, and admires them... and best of all, shares them with someone who appreciates rocks as much as she does. Best-selling author Pat Zietlow Miller and acclaimed illustrator Katie Kath have created a main character whose infectious love of the stones under her feet becomes a tribute to creativity, outdoor play, and friendship.
Charlotte Zolotow's beloved picture book In My Garden gets an elegant update with illustrations from Philip Stead! In Zolotow's text, a girl contemplates what she loves best about her garden during each of the four seasons, from birdwatching to planting flowers to playing in the snow. Alongside her, Stead illustrates an adult woman — perhaps a relative or an intergenerational friend — who helps encourage the girl's love of the outdoors. In the end, the garden is more than just a place to play; it's a special space that helps bind them together. It's a beautiful reimagining of a modern classic.
Every Sunday, Mrs. Badger walks the mountain path to the top of Sugarloaf Peak. Along the way, she provides helping hands to those in need, and acts as a caretaker for the natural beauty of the trail. One day, she notices a very little kitten named Lulu following her. Lulu wishes she could climb to the top too... but maybe she's too small. Mrs. Badger encourages her, and it's not long before she has a regular companion on her weekly walk. And when Mrs. Badger is too frail to go, Lulu takes up the walking stick. This sweet story celebrating the love of the outdoors and the richness of intergenerational friendship is profound and quietly powerful.
When a little girl visits her grandmother, she wants to see a puma in the wild, something her grandmother calls a "long-dream" because it might not come true. But with her grandmother's help, the girl makes a plan. She uses her allowance money to buy a salt lick, and every day, the pair go to watch and wait. And when the girl finally sees a shy, beautiful puma for herself, she leaves with renewed determination to help protect this threatened creature. Lyrical text, elegant illustrations, and facts about pumas are sure to spark young readers' sense of wonder in nature.
Two friends set out to discover the natural world together in this exquisite picture book. When the girl and boy get off the subway, they set out on a journey through meadows, mountains, and thick forests, finding beauty both obvious and subtle everywhere they look. But when they return home to the city, they make a remarkable discovery: wild cannot be contained, even among skyscrapers and asphalt. This lyrical story encourages everyone — even city dwellers — to see, and revel in, the wild around them.
7-year-old Sophia had adored bugs ever since she was 2 1/2 — but when she got to school, not everyone appreciated her love of insects, especially in a girl. And when she brought a beautiful grasshopper — her favorite bug — to school, some of the kids even knocked it off her shoulder and killed it. Heartbroken, Sophia stopped talking about bugs... until her mom wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist pen pal. The society created the hashtag #BugsR4Girls, and before long, hundreds of scientists were talking to Sophia, encouraging her to keep up her love of entomology. This charming picture book, written by the real-life Sophia, celebrates curiosity, scientific passion, being true to yourself — and of course, bugs!
When two sisters are ushered outside to play, the older one just wants to read a book under a tree — completely ignoring her little sister's entreaties to come and play. So the little sister tries to tempt her with descriptions of her secret tree fort, with details that get wilder and more amazing with every minute! But when she finally adds that the whole fort is made out of candy, the older sister can't take any more, and declares that it can't be real. Or maybe...it's just not real yet. This book celebrates both the imagination of creative kids and the amazing potential outdoor play provides to make imagination into reality.
Nora is bored at Grandma's house, and fed up with her silly games — she knows there aren't any bird-sized dragonflies, fishing polar bears, or stripey tigers in the garden. Right? Except when she does start to see unexpected creatures, including toothy plants that try to eat her toy giraffe, she starts to believe there really might be a tiger after all (even if that tiger is actually a ginger cat.) Lush illustrations and a tongue-in-cheek story remind young readers that you're never too old to find adventure in your own backyard.
"Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us," this book begins. "Now sometimes even when we’re outside... we’re inside." But is that really true? In this contemplative book, a little girl recognizes the many ways that our lives interconnect with nature, even when we're not outdoors: a snail sneaks in on produce, while the wood in her table and chairs used to be trees. Finally, she and her pet cat take their first step outside, ready to discover the wonders of nature first-hand. This lyrical book, accented with stunning illustrations, is sure to entice young readers into the outdoors — and encourage them to think about their world a little differently.
A little girl's father is distracted by errands and pays her little attention as she finds colorful wildflowers nestled into the cracks and crevices of the pavement. Her hands are soon bursting with flowers, and she starts to give her treasured blooms away — to a man sleeping on a bench, to a friendly dog, and to her mother and siblings when they finally arrive home. By the time the story ends, her small acts of kindness have brought color and joy to the whole neighborhood. This gorgeous, emotionally powerful wordless picture book celebrates how a girl's quiet observations of those around her motivates her kind act.
When Mae and her family move from the countryside, she mourns the loss of all the growing things that surrounded her old home: "There was no room among the crowded buildings for apple trees and daffodils," she thinks. But when she and her mother go exploring, she discovers a florist shop called Florette with a window full of lush, green, beautiful plants. Full of inspiration, Mae starts her own little garden, and as it grows, it draws in new friends and helps Mae find her place in her new city. Packed with glorious illustrations of greenery, this delightful picture book celebrates the power of green space, wherever it appears.
A grown woman remembers how she and her mother used to welcome the change of every season: with a wild, exuberant, outdoor dance! From spring meadows to summer beaches, fall orchards to winter snow, their dance together celebrated the beauties of nature, the power of a joyful life, and the love they had for one another. Today, the woman — a ballerina about to go one stage — says another thank you to the mother who gave her a dancing heart. With elegant text and evocative illustrations, this tribute to a mother-daughter tradition might just inspire you to start your own.
Ava loves joining her fellow "citizen scientists" in the annual New England Christmas Bird Count: together, they identify and count all the birds they see. This year, the team's leader, Big Al, even invites Ava to record the tally! Carefully, Ava observes the birds around her — their appearance, their behavior, and their songs — and applies the birding ID techniques she knows so that she can count each bird along their route. And at the end of the day, there's a Christmas Bird Count party! Exquisite illustrations of birds and tips and tricks for identifying them in the text introduce young readers to birdwatching; it's sure to inspire young readers to start their own local bird counts.
The little girl is struggling with ballet class, and she desperately wants to become a better dancer. So she sneaks off to a peaceful clearing to practice where no one can see her. She tries to remember her teacher's advice to hold her head as if she was wearing antlers, and she even sticks a few branches in her hair to help. And then, a deer steps into the clearing too, and together, the girl and the dancer leap and gambol around the meadow. Even once the deer leaves, the girl dances, newly inspired. Full of evocative artwork, this book celebrates the beauty that exists in the great outdoors — and within all of us.
A girl’s family is vacationing by the Pacific Ocean and she is not happy about it — at first. Who said she wanted to leave her friends in the city for a boring, freezing ocean anyway? But as she slowly allows herself to be coaxed into exploring the seaside, she discovers that the ocean has its own rhythm, once that defies rushing and hurry and encourages her to pause and enjoy its beauty. And when she has to leave, she realizes that she can take that gentle ocean — this specific ocean — with her wherever she goes. This lyrical picture book by the author of Virginia Wolf also conveys an important message about the power of natural spaces.
One of Wendy’s favorite times is when she and her family go walking together on Rambling Road. Rain or shine, they venture out, and every trip Wendy finds some sort of treasure to bring home with her. But the family can’t manage their walk in all weather, and a heavy snow looks like it’s going to keep them from their happy rambles. Fortunately, Wendy’s treasures allow her to treat the whole family to a special indoor surprise! This charming book celebrates family time outdoors — and a Mighty Girl’s ability to see the amazing in ordinary objects.
When 67-year-old Emma Gatewood became the first woman to solo hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in 1955, she also saved the trail for future generations! Her description of the trail's condition prompted a rejuvenation effort, and her success inspired a new generation of people to take on this incredible journey. This picture book biography explores how a mother of eleven set out on a 2,500-mile trek and walked her way into history. For another picture book about Gatewood, check out Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail; adults can check out the excellent biography Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.
A woman plans a 300-mile solo journey down the Hudson River in this stunning book by Caldecott Honor winner Elisha Cooper. Although the narrator wonders "Can she do this?" the paddler herself knows "she is strong, and she knows what she’s doing." Along the way, she sees nature's wonders: a moose rising out of the river, a beaver dam, rapids, and more. When she makes her way home, her sketchbook and journals are full of ideas for a story. Lyrical text and absorbing illustrations will leave kids dreaming of their own journey by canoe — and the maps and other information about the Hudson River might give them a place to start.
10-year-old Kristen is started when her parents tell her the whole family is going on a trip... to plant trees. For forty days, she, her sisters, their mom and their dad, and the family dog, will be working on a logging site in British Columbia, Canada. There, they'll help replant seedlings to replace the precious trees that have been cut down. There are exciting moments — flying in a seaplane and camping for weeks — and less fun moments — like getting covered in bug bites. But Kristen learns things she wouldn't learn anywhere else, from speaking a little French to how to properly plant a tree... and years later, the spot where they planted a literal million trees is now a huge, glorious forest. Richly detailed illustrations and an intriguing story about tree planting and its positive impact will make this book an inspiration for young readers eager to find their own ways to help the earth.
Hattie McFadden loves paddling her canoe out on the lake every morning, singing a song as she goes. One day, though, a huge mysterious beast emerges to listen to her song! Hattie looks into the creature's friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster, even if the town is terrified. How can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn't scary or dangerous at all? Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different.
When 6-year-old Marvel's father dies, her mother and her seven siblings have to find a new place to live — one where they can support themselves. They find a tar-paper shack in the woods of Wisconsin, and while it looks like it's falling apart, the family sees the possibilities. Over the course of the year, the kids find new ways to have fun when store-bought toys are too expensive; discover unexpected treats, like ripe berries growing nearby; and slowly, find the shack starts feeling like home. Lyrical, with stunning illustrations that lighten as the family finds their feet, this gorgeous picture book based on the Depression-era childhood of New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Eliza Wheeler's grandmother is a celebration of a family's love and how it can make any place beautiful.
Cece and her friends Daisy and Caroline are looking forward to their Adventure Girls camping trip, and Cece is particularly hoping to use some of her scientific skills in the great outdoors. After learning how to pitch a tent and set up a campsite, they go for a hike, with Cece snapping pictures of trail landmarks. When it looks like a bad storm is coming — and Cece's mom's GPS stops working — clever Cece is able to figure out how far away the storm is and how to use her pictures to create a map to get them safety back. Cece Loves Science and Adventure celebrates friendship and fun, as well as the practical side of scientific knowledge.
Young Anna Comstock adored being outside: she spent her days enjoying nature and observing everything she could, from ants on the move to the constellations in the sky. And even though many people thought science was only for men, she went to university and continued to study. She became famous as a nature expert and artist, creating many stunning books about nature. Then, Comstock fostered generations of kids' interest in nature — by creating one of the earliest school curricula focused on studying outdoors. This charming biography celebrates a little-known pioneer for women in science whose influence still touches children today, and the joy of being in the great outdoors.
Sadie has two best friends — but when both of them go on vacation together, Sadie is left behind and heartbroken. Then, she makes a startling discovery: a witch has moved into her backyard playhouse! Ms. M is no ordinary witch: her magic is based on nature and inspiration, not potions and wands, and she's an avid birder. But with Ms. M's friends Onyx the cat and Ethel the bird missing, she needs a little extra help — and Sadie fits the bill. It's the start of an adventure that will teach Sadie about birds, magic, and the wonder that surrounds her seemingly ordinary life. This charming early chapter book, the first of a planned series, will teach young readers about common bird species and get them thinking about the natural world that surrounds their own home.
Let's go outside! This pocket-size companion to the National Trust's hugely successful media campaign contains fifty fantastic activities for kids to explore outdoors. From flying a kite to finding frogspawn to swimming in the sea, there's something here for everyone! It also provides space for you to journal your adventures, with notes, photos, doodles, and more. Inspiring and full of fun, this guide is the perfect way to get kids ready to explore the great outdoors.
11-year-old Fern loves nature, but has little time to enjoy it: her stepfather Toivo struggles to earn enough money for the family, so she's responsible for watching her two brothers and keeping the house. The old growth forest behind their home is Fern's refuge, so she's devastated when she hears that a fracking company wants to put a wastewater pond there. But for her poor community, it means chance to pull themselves out of poverty. So with her dead mother's recipe book, Fern sets out to show just what could be lost along with the forest. A touching and nuanced look at complex issues like environmentalism, poverty, mental illness, and more, this book will give middle grade readers plenty to think about.
In 12-year-old Aisulu's Mongolian Kazakh community, roles for girls and boys are still sharply divided, but she chafes at the boundaries. When her brother Serik develops a limp that won't go away, her parents take him to a distant hospital, leaving Aisulu with her aunt and uncle — and secretly caring for an orphaned baby eagle, just like the traditional eagle hunters do. Her aunt says that 'there have been women with eagles since ancient days'; Aisulu isn't sure that her father will agree. But when Serik needs expensive treatment, Aisulu hopes that a win at the Eagle Festival will not only pay for his care, but also prove that she deserves to be an eagle hunter. Lyrical and ultimately hopeful, middle grade readers will soar along with Aisulu as she finds her place in her community.
11-year-old Calpurnia is curious why the yellow grasshoppers in her yard are so much bigger than the green grasshoppers. But it's Texas in 1899, and girls are supposed to devote their time to proper activities like needlework, not tromping through the grasses studying bugs. Still, Calpurnia recruits her grandfather, an avid naturalist, to help her figure out the mystery. As the pair grows closer, Calpurnia dreams of becoming a scientist, even as it becomes more obvious how difficult that will be for a girl in her time. This book will give tweens new perspective on the challenges that faced female scientists in the past. Calpurnia's story continues in The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, while readers age 6 to 9 can check out the early chapter book series Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet.
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are best friends who are looking forward to a fun few weeks at camp, that is, until they see a woman turn into a giant bear! Suddenly, the friends find themselves in the midst of mysterious and supernatural adventures. Fortunately, “Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types” can provide them with all the skills they need. It’s going to be quite the unexpected summer! This collection gathers issues 1 to 4 of this fun series, which also makes reference to inspiring women of history. Fans of the first volume will also want to check out more of the Lumberjanes series.
Get Them Outside: Parenting Books About Outdoor Adventure
Playing outside is fun, but it’s also important for mental, physical, and emotional development! These parenting books highlight the benefits of outdoor play — and how you and your children can enjoy them together.
The average American child today spends only four to seven minutes playing outside — 90 percent less time than their parents did as children. Scott D. Sampson, a paleontologist and the host of the TV show Dinosaur Train, provides a framework for getting kids back into connection with the great outdoors. By showing how kids' interaction with nature changes as they mature — and teaching parents and educators how to overcome seeming obstacles like technology and urban environments — Sampson shows the many benefits of outdoor play and how even today's children can develop an enduring love and appreciation for the great outdoors.
Today, many kids are reluctant to be separated from comforts like electronic devices and climate control for something as “boring” as outdoor play. Louv argues that a lack of connection with the outdoors — and the lack of exercise and mindfulness that follows — is affecting kids’ development. When parents and educators get kids back outside, the result is improved test scores, better problem solving, and lower incidences of ADD, obesity, depression, and more. Louv offers great ideas for incorporating nature into family life and the academic world, in hopes that no child will ever be the last child in the woods.
Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children
Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children
Sometimes it seems like kids can learn all they need indoors, but studies show that rough and tumble outdoor play — the kind that's directed by kids rather than by parents or teachers — is critical to develop sensory, motor, and executive functions. In fact, there's even evidence to suggest that a lack of movement contributes to ADHD, sensory processing issues, emotional regulation problems, and aggressiveness with peers. Using the philosophy of her popular TimberNook program, author Angela Hanscom provides ideas and strategies for parents and educators to ensure that kids get the play they need, whether they live in the country or in an urban environment.
If you’re committed to getting your whole family outdoors more often, it can seem intimidating or overwhelming, but as Cohen points out, all you really need is a few ideas about 15 minutes a day! This collection of activities — one for every day of the year — provides seasonally appropriate ideas that require little advance preparation, expertise, or resources to do. This simple and inspiring parenting guide is a great way to combine enjoying nature with quality time with your children.
In this follow-up to Last Child in the Woods, bestselling author Richard Louv expands his goal from getting kids outside to getting all of us outside! Louv describes a new way of thinking about outdoor play, which encourages communities to see the incredible benefits of regular contact with nature — including improved mental acuity and creativity, better physical and mental health, and of course, having fun! 500 activities for both kids and adults provide ideas to ensure that we all get our dose of vitamin N daily.
As the title of this book captures, playing outside with your Mighty Girl may help you rediscover your own love of nature! This book contains 52 simple and open-ended activities, designed to begin your outdoor adventure without dictating it every step of the way. Text boxes called “Help Me Understand” provide answers to some of the most common questions kids will ask during each activity — although many curious kids will want to research and explore further once they get home! Parents will also love that this book is organized by season, so it’s easy to find just the right activity for the day you have before you.
Patricia Ellis Herr’s daughter Alex had so much energy from such a young age that Herr thought she might be able to tackle serious hikes at the age of 5 — not just long ones, but paths that might make adults struggle. Together, the pair climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s highest mountains — and both mother and daughter learned a few lessons about independence, fearlessness, and daring. This story of a daughter learning independence, fearlessness, and daring from her mother — and her mother learning some of the same lessons from her daughter — is sure to get you and your Mighty Girl thinking of the challenges you could take on together.
Encouraging your Mighty Girl to go outside — or heading outside yourself — seems like such a simple step, but it really can make a world of difference. Whether you end up digging in the backyard, exploring hiking trails, watching the living creatures around you, or building sandcastles at the beach, we hope these stories will inspire you and your Mighty Girl to find your special place in the great outdoors.
Additional recommended Resources
- For more books about nature and the environment, visit our Nature section.
- For Mighty Girl books that celebrate the seasons of the year, check out our blog Growing Girls, Growing Gardens: 25 Mighty Girl Books About Springtime Fun, our blog Harvest Time: Fabulous Fall Mighty Girl books, and our top books celebrating winter.
- For books to encourage your Mighty Girl to dare a new adventure, check out our blog post Let's Go On An Adventure: 20 Books To Inspire Adventurous Mighty Girls.
- For a selection of toys to encourage outdoor play, from sports equipment to gardening tools to riding toys, visit our Outdoor Play section.