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Summer Reading to Inspire Outdoor Time for Kids
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.
- Coral Reefs by Jason Chin – imaginative blend of fiction and nonfiction
- The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock – Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and our National Park System – engaging, accessible picture book version of the story
- Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld – the food chains and food webs in our backyard
- Stars by Mary Lyn Ray – beautiful and evocative
- A Stick Is An Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer – Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
- Friends: Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley – for younger readers, introduces desert setting and animals
- Cork & Fuzz: The Swimming Lesson by Dori Chaconas – outdoor play with a muskrat and opossum
- Citizen Scientists: Be Part of the Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns
- Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage by Sophie Webb
- The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall – celebration of sisters at play by the sea
All of these books are available on Amazon.com, 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.