I was lamenting as I wrote my post about fiction books about science the other day that there are so few great children’s books that really focus on science. Then, I suddenly realized that there are actually plenty of books for nature lovers. After we wrapped up Sassafras Science, we dove into The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and the relief I felt reading aloud rich, quality language was pretty excellent. So here you are, a list of fiction books with nature themes. May reading them bring on spring!
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
This is the classic story a boy who runs away to live in the woods alone. The details about survival and nature bring this story to life. It’s been in our required reading list this year but so far neither of my children have picked it out. I’m thinking of doing it as our first all together read next month.
Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech
I think of Sharon Creech’s work as the middle grades answer to Barbara Kingslover because she weaves nature and everyday life together so well in several of her stories. This one is about a girl who, in the middle of lots of pains about growing up, decides to spend summer clearing a path into the forest behind her house. Note that there is a family death in this book.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
As I said, this is our current read aloud and a story with lots of rich language. It’s about a young girl in turn of the century Texas who wants to become a naturalist under the tutalage of her science-loving grandfather.
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
I could have listed almost any of Enright’s books. The Four-Story Mistake contains an entire chapter about a boy watching a moth at his window which is one of the most beautiful passages in any children’s book anywhere. However, the entire focus of Gone-Away Lake is on the restorative power in nature and the descriptions of the wild plants and the progression of the summer season are the overpowering features of this book. Don’t read it in winter like we mistakenly did. Be sure to do it when summer is on the horizon.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Most people probably already know this classic about a girl who is revived by finding a mysterious overgrown garden. It’s a lovely way to celebrate nature, gardening and life, especially in the spring. As I’ve posted before, when we read it aloud awhile back, we especially loved the Inga Moore illustrated edition.
A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
Clements’s book about a rich kid who finds his place in a small town is more about teachers and students than about nature, but there is an enthusiasm for being outside and getting to know the woods in the story. Clements has a knack for making characters that kids relate to, so this book may make readers feel like anyone could spend a week in the woods.
Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
This book is full of humor and adventure. Through a series of accidents, a boy takes on saving a small patch of redwood trees. The redwoods are obviously the nature focus and the reader learns about these amazing trees as the main character struggles to fight his own family to save them.