11 Picture Books that Inspire Children to Explore Outside

11 Picture Books that Inspire Children to Explore Outside

Seeing the natural world through the eyes of a child is an enlightening experience. Their innate appreciation and fascination for all living things is a quality that that can lead to many fulfilling learning experiences.

The universe provides parents with unlimited opportunities for connecting and growing with their children. Whether you are examining a grain of sand, veins on a leaf or the parts of a flower—all it takes is some time spent together in the great outdoors and an attitude of inquiry to make the world come alive with infinite possibilities for discovery.

Children are naturally curious. The goal for parents and teachers is to transform their questions into meaningful life lessons.

One of the best ways to entice children into exploring the great outdoors is by reading a good picture book. The goal is to pique their curiosity by asking questions as we read. Then invite the little scientists in our lives to grab a magnifying glass and seek the answers they are looking for. All while spending a lovely afternoon outside. What could be better?

Here is a list of the favorites we have discovered throughout the years…

Please do share your favorites as well!

  1. How The World Works by Dorian & Young
  2. How Things Work in the Yard by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  3. In a Backyard by Jen Green
  4. Linnea’s Almanac by Christina Bjork & Lena Anderson
  5. Nicky The Nature Detective by Lena Anderson & Ulf Svedberg
  6. One Small Square Backyard by Donald Silver
  7. Outside Your Window by Nicola Davis
  8. Step Gently Out by Helen Frost & Rick Lieder
  9. The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
  10. You Can Be A Nature Detective by Peggy Kochanoff
  11. Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld



With over 10 years of EDU experience and a growing family, Mariah started Playful Learning in 2008 as a resource for parents and teachers. In 2010 Playful Learning received the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, and in August of 2011, Shambhala Publications released her first book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Mariah has an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education and was that girl sitting in the back of class thinking about what she would do differently if she was the teacher. Now she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.



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  1. Thanks for the list. I love the book lists on your blog. We are *always* on the lookout for great books. I was able to put about 9 of these on hold at our library. 🙂
    Sarah M

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