Summer is a great time for kids to explore the magic of our natural world. No need to go far afield. Take time to slow down, float leaves on a creek running to the sea, look at lightning and listen to thunder echoing in a summer storm, watch glossy squirrels zipping up and down trees, find seaweed treasures at the beach, or peer into the underwater city of a green sea anemone, invitingly waving its tentacles.
Here are three fabulous books to hold in your hands, and open to the wonders of nature:
- Flashlight by Lizi Boyd. In this irresistible book with no words, each picture tells a story, which continues into the next picture (it takes time to discover everything on a page). Snug in his tent in the forest, a child puts on his boots and goes out with his flashlight to see animals awake in the darkness – bats in the trees, little mice nibbling plants, striped skunks, a beaver chomping on logs, deer, foxes and raccoons. When the child drops the flashlight, the animals shine the light back! (Picture book)
- Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre. Take a poetic look at rain. Rain as it plops and drops on large green leaves, as it thuds, and makes mud. Even when the rain stops, raindrops drip, and dot and slip, reflect, and “highlight what is real.” Gorgeous large-size photos of rain with flowers, plants, birds, and insects, capture the extraordinary ephemeral nature of our most precious natural resource. (Picture book)
- Welcome to the Neighborwood by Shawn Sheehy. Meet animal builders in the forest, they build homes and live together in the “neighborwood.” The land snail carries his home with him, a hummingbird forms a cozy nest, garden spider has her loom of doom, honeybees construct with beeswax, potter wasp builds with mud, beavers engineer a whole habitat, a tiny fish glues together a nest on the bottom of a pond. Spectacular pop-ups of each animal. (Pop-up book)
And one more book, not a kids’ books per se, but it has a favored place on our living room coffee table. (Only some books get to be there – we don’t have a coffee table the size of Luxembourg.)
- An Ocean Garden by Josie Iselin. A book discovered on a trip to Point Reyes, while browsing fabulous Point Reyes Bookstore (excellent adult and kids’ book sections).
- The “ocean garden” is seaweed. And what an amazing garden it is! The author collects washed-up seaweed from the coasts of California and Maine, and illuminates them on a scanner. Light shines on a secret world revealed by tides, and deep under the sea.
- As an artist and scientist, Josie Eselin knows her seaweed – why are there are so many different colors of seaweed, from browns to green, blue, orange, purple, red, how seaweed anchors itself, gathers sunlight (which is transformed into nurtrients), provides a home to many species of marine life, and is superbly adapted to tidal community and larger ocean environment.
- After seeing this book, when kids will run out to the beach, search for seaweed left by the tide, pick it up, swing it around – then take a closer look.