Summer Reading to Inspire Outdoor Time for Kids

Children's books have been moving away from the outdoors for decades, but one summer reading list includes a number of books about nature (flickr | Librarian In Black)
We’ve all read a lot about our kids and how we are raising a generation of indoor children glued to their electronic devices. We know that the reduction in outside play time is hurting kids both mentally and physically.  But I recently learned of another culprit that is contributing to our children’s lack of connection with the natural world.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sociological Inquiry, since 1960 the emphasis in children’s books has moved away from the natural world surrounding us, and is becoming a much smaller part of a child’s perspective.  You can read NWF’s original blog post about that finding here.

Mainstream illustrations of the natural world are less and less available to our kids. From 1938 to 2008, depictions of nature show up half as much as depictions of the manmade environment. The study concludes that “today’s generation of children are not being socialized toward an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the place of humans within it.”

This is why I was pleased to see that the Horn Book’s 2012 Summer Reading List for Children includes a number of books that foster a connection with nature. The Horn Book which has been around since 1924 publishes a magazine that reviews “the best of the best” in children’s books. Here are some of their recommendations for summer that are sure to inspire kids to spend time outdoors.

All of these books are available on, and if you use the links above a portion of the purchase will be given to National Wildlife Federation.

After reading about the wonders of nature, kids will be inspired to check out the nature around them, in their backyard, at a park down the street, or on a family camping trip. NWF’s Be Out There program has lot of ideas for fun outdoor play. Of course reading NWF’s Ranger Rick magazine is one of the best ways to turn kids on to the wonders of nature.