with original recommendations, descriptions and references by Kristin Addington Culpepper (Parenting Expert and Author)
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A Peek-Through Picture Book
This one is a delight to read. The pictures are bright, with much to feast your eyes and notice with your child. All the while, the words keep you buzzing along and by the end, you have learned important truths about the life of a bee. The “peek-through” keeps you guessing with each turn of the page.
A Beach Tail
A boy and his dad spend a day at the beach. It has a simple storyline and at the same time, is captivating. The boy creates art in the sand, all the while exploring the beach and discovering up-close the “friends” who live there.
A very relatable book, whether you live in the woods or downtown in a big city…. “wild” can be found everywhere...it might be just around the corner. This book offers hope to us all and is a gentle reminder to keep our eyes open for the healing, rejuvenating wild in each of our worlds.
Peter in Blueberrry Land
How Does My Garden Grow?
One Morning in Maine
Another magical adventure from the heart and mind of Elsa Beskow that will not disappoint your little ones (or you)! The way she draws the reader into nature with her illustrations and captures the wonder of childhood is truly remarkable. We own many of her books, needless to say!
A story of a little girl who goes to live with her grandparents, who grow vegetables, for the summer. It shows her learning, working alongside her grandparents and growing herself. This would be an ideal book to turn into a living homeschool gardening, botany lesson block. The story takes you through the whole process- start to finish of farm to table as well as what needs tending in the garden though the year. The illustrations are adorable and I loved watching multi-generations laboring and growing together for the betterment of themselves and ultimately, the earth.
Our family has read this book year after year and it never get old. We have a special place in our hearts for Maine, and dream of it often. This book seems to open the reader up to all the possibilities around you, the marvel of growing up, the tenacity of “little people” and the solidarity of family and community. Put the essence of each of these in one pot, add words, stir it all together and you get One Morning in Maine. That’s my 2 cents worth. ;)
Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep
And Then Comes Summer
This book helps us all understand our neighbors, the squirrels that frolic so freely all around us! Whether it’s in a park, the forest, our own yard or running down a city block, surely we’ll meet one sooner or later. Before you are quick to judge that they’re pesky and label them as nuisances, learn a bit more about them, their gifts to the planet and see if you can reframe that thinking….and let your little ones decide for themselves. ;). Squirrels are free, determined, flexible, helpful as you’ll see and have a LOT of fun just living life. Doesn’t it sound like we could learn a bit from these guys? There is also a section in the back that goes into more detail surrounding their ancestors, how they help trees, and more. This is a great book to use as a jumping off point to dig deeper (no pun intended) and learn more as a homeschooling or nature study unit. My children have seen generations of mama squirrels raise their babies in our yard, building various nests, depending on the age of her little furs. We have had the great honor of watching build a nest high up in a maple and then one by one, transport these little ones from their original nest (under our deck) to the “big kid” nest. ;) One of our favorite pastimes as a family has been watching all the squirrel babies and siblings grow up and be the frisky, energetic and clever little stinkers they are- hours of entertainment!
This is a fun one to introduce trains to slightly older children. The story connects them to the community of passengers, several types of trains and to the terrain and landscape as they speed from the East to midwestern farmland, over mountains and end up on the West Coast. Everything from a Commuter, Passenger, Freight, Overnight and High-Speed Train is depicted. So, hold on tight! Maybe you’ll want to plan a train ride soon or over the summer vacation for your own children to experience the adventure, if they haven’t had that opportunity already!
This is SUCH a fun book! It sums up all the goodness of summer— the freedom and joy, the connectedness to family, friends and all of nature in a way that just makes you smile and want to run outside and experience it ALL right now!
Time is a Flower
What a special book this is. The illustrations are captivating- realistic, yet soft with a touch of magic. This is one our family has displayed on a bookshelf in the summer months…. like a living piece of art. The story is of a boy who goes to live with his grandma at her cottage in the North Woods for the summer. She is “river rat” and an artist and these two things impact the boy more than he could have imagined.
A book about time to answer what it is. We can find answers in the everyday world and nature that surrounds us. Maybe your family can add a few to the list. Freshly unique illustrations to accompany the wondering.
Our Tree Named Steve
The Empty Lot
This one made me cry….kind of like The Giving Tree, but much shorter. A dear story about our relationship with trees, family and the emotions tied into it all. This is a must-read for those of us who have a deep reverence for trees and desire to pass this along to the next generation or share it with others.
This book speaks my soul- it’s so close to my heart and is a reminder to those of us far removed from nature, to come home.
If you have little critters in your care (other than your human ones), you might have had an escapee at one point. It’s fun to imagine where they went…after their safe return home, of course. We were gifted this since my daughter is “Hattie” and my mom, grandmother and great-great grandmother (Civil War era) were all “Harriet” or “Hattie”. My daughter makes it very clear she prefers “Hattie”, not “Harriet”…either way- cute book if you like little rodents!
Billy and Blaze
A sweet story of a boy, his beloved horse, and their adventures together. Part of a quintessential must-read if your little ones are interested in horses. We read the whole series when my children were younger and riding horses and they loved them all.
Down by the Bay
Plant a Pocket of Prarie
Any book that can be sung all the way through (with your children) is a double winner in my eyes! You’ll find within, such silliness with quirky illustrations, nonsensical lyrics and giggles all the way through. If you don’t remember Raffi, or haven’t shared his songs with your little ones, now could be an opportune time to introduce them! We still listen to him and sing his songs on occasion (CANADA!, Brush your Teeth…). I’ll admit, a few of them (“Thanks A Lot”…) are on my playlist.
A fabulous resource for planting your own prairie, regardless of size. This will you’re your children see the possibilities and reasons planting native and in this way helps everyone. In the back of the book, there are wonderful ideas for how to turn this information into an adventure and be a prairie “detective” and observer. This is a great book for nature advocate, lover or budding naturalist.
The Big Honey Hunt
Papa Bear takes us on another one of his adventures that hopefully will translate to an adventure of your own this summer! This was a favorite of mine growing up and I read the very same hardback to my children. Traditions.
This is a very unique picture book that you can be quite interactive as you and your child guess who will be highlighted next. Maybe it will spark a flashlight adventure for your family this summer to see who you can find!
This Moose Belongs to Me
In the spirit of summer, vacations, travel and adventure, perhaps you’ll encounter a moose list we did last summer! Oh, what a marvelous creature…and a bit odd looking. Anyway, here is a silly story that makes a little sense, and then doesn’t, and then it’s so cute you don’t even care whether it does or not!
Arthur's Family Vacation
Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take an Evening Stroll
Haven’t we all been here in some way or another? All of our long dreamt of plans end up turning out a wee bit differently than we imagined. Arthur deals with his sadness, disappointment and learns to roll with what seem like the “punches” at first. By the end, he’s embracing it all with his changed attitude and perspective. Humor, a loving family and learning to see life from different angles is woven through this Arthur adventure. You might recall these book characters from your own childhood. My brother owned what seems like all of the books in this series and I even had the honor of meeting Marc Brown back in “the day”!
A heart-warming story that parents of little ones can most certainly relate to. Big Hedgehog is hurrying Little Hedgehog along home to bed, but with all the marvelous animals, elements and experiences, they find themselves stopping every few feet to take it all in. A gentle reminder that when we rush through life, we often miss the magic. May we rush a little less and stroll a little more….wisdom from the children.
Big and Small and In-Between
A clever book and fun read with illustrations that are detailed, yet soft. The whole experience will draw you in as many scenes, words and wonders will feel so familiar. Somewhat interactive with a few flaps to lift and things to unfold.