In this article we'll take a look at some of our favourite nature books for children. All of these, and many more, are available in the books section of our online shop.
Suitable for age: 4+
We’re suckers for a book with beautiful illustrations and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s written like a field guide with impromptu sketches and notes taken on each animal by the enthusiastic fictional author, Dr Hibernica. It contains a double-page spread on each Irish native animal, such as the ever popular red squirrel, the rare pine marten and the red fox.
Each page consists of a charming description of each animal, essential facts about their size, home, diet and life expectancy. It is also packed full of information about the animal’s history in Ireland and provides both Irish and Latin names for every animal. There are amazingly detailed sketches of the creatures in lifelike poses, and drawings of footprints.
Both a reference book and great fun, this is one to cherish for children and adults alike.
Suitable for age: 3+
Here’s another fabulously illustrated book that contains a massive amount of information about nature. Each page describes in a short, simple and easy to understand way some key behaviour of a particular species. Birds, for example, build nests with twigs and grass, fluff and feathers to keep their eggs safe and warm. Earthworms recycle dead leaves into new rich soil. Winter is a hard time for animals and they are just trying to survive until spring.
The descriptions lend themselves to identifying opportunities for further learning when you’re actually out in nature with your children. If you see an earthworm while you’re out for a walk during autumn you can point out that the worm is recycling the leaves that have fallen off the trees. If you see birds flying around you can ask whether maybe they’re collecting material to build their leaves.
This is one book that punches well above its weight in educational value.
Suitable for age: 8-12
As children get a bit older you might find that they want to engage a bit more actively with nature, and this book is a great way to get started. Many of the pages of the nature explorer’s scrapbook describe something that can be found in nature and provide places where samples can be stuck into the book. The challenge for young nature explorers is to fill the pages of the book with things they collect themselves. The scrapbook contains pages to stick down feathers, seeds, insects and many others. There are also informational pages for items that can be found in nature but that would be too big to stick into the scrapbook. For example, stones, bones and even a page for cloud spotting.
Each page contains information about a certain type of item that can be found in nature along with information like what it is, where it can be found and how to examine it. Understandably as the collection grows and the book fills up it will get harder to close, so the book contains an elastic strap to hold the book closed when not in use.
Suitable for all ages.
Humans and bees have a long history together and this book charts some of our shared experiences. The book starts with the biology of bees; how they make honey, how a hive is made up, how bees communicate with a waggle dance and their interaction with plants. From there the book describes how humans have engaged with bees from the religious significance of bees to the equipment used for beekeeping.
The style of this large-format book is single and double page cartoon spreads with descriptive text below each drawing. The vibrant images are by award winning Polish cartoonist Piotr Socha and capture the beauty and excitement of the bee world.
This is one for adults and children to enjoy together.
Suitable for age: 3+
A lot of the time birds are heard but not seen. To the untrained ear, different bird songs can sound very similar but in fact it is possible to identify birds by their songs almost as effectively as by how they look. The trick is knowing what the birds sound like.
This beautiful little sound book will introduce children to twelve of the most common garden birds including robins, goldfinches, greenfinches, sparrows, blue and great tits, blackbirds and others. For each bird there is a button that will play a realistic sample of the song made by that bird. The sounds are combined with a page of information about each bird; describing where it can be found, what it feeds on, where it nests, what the eggs look like, differences between male and female birds and giving an indication of the approximate size. There is also some interesting extra facts about each of the birds.
This book is a great way to help children learn more about the birds that can be found in gardens up and down the country. Although this book is suitable for age three and over it is a great reference for much older children, even adults, who are interested in finding out more about these fascinating creatures – and our nine month old baby loves it too!