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Book Review: Top Five Nature Story Books

Posted on 6/14/2019
by Rene Stroud, Naturalist and her daughter, June, 1st Grade Nature Lover
This spring I set out on a quest to find the best nature book in our family collection. June, my 6-year-old daughter,  and I gathered up all the nature books from her room. After reviewing the books we were surprised at how hard it was to decide on one awesome nature book so we settled on a list of our top five picks. From there we decided to split the books into two categories, "Story Books" that use nature themes to weave a narrative story, & "Informational Books" that deal more in fact with story as a secondary element.  With two categories we had to put together two lists of course, so buckle up & enjoy our "Part 1 Book Review, the Top 5 Nature Story Books as Identified by a Mom & a First Grader!"

Story books are terrific & a staple of most elementary school student's reading lives. They thrive on a solid story narrative, supported by fact or experience, & feature identifiable & relatable characters. These are the bedtime stories, & they are super important when it comes to instilling a life-long love of reading in your school age children. My favorite part of story books is the way that they can relate factual information in disguise to the reader, making learning organic & fun. Our top five nature story books are just the tip of the iceberg, we hope you enjoy our picks & find even more of your own favorites!

#5 - Mahaska Mammoth: Woolly Dreams by  Laura DeCook, Linda Fox , & Mary Jane Sullivan

What was it like to live in Iowa during the Ice Age? This terrific book will tell you all about it & give you a ton of information at the same time! This book tells the story of a young mammoth and stag moose who become friends and go on an adventure. The margins of the book have information and facts about the ice age and the megafauna (or really big animals) that lived in Iowa during this time period. With a story that teaches the importance of friendship & of following your dreams combined with scientific & historic information about the pre-history of Iowa this book is terrific for teaching & inspiring.

Why Mom Likes this Book: I like this book because it introduces a time period to a child that often is overlooked.

Why June Likes this Book: “I liked looking for the mouse on the pages and learning that Dire Wolves would try to eat young Mammoths and Stag Moose.”

#4 - The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That! - Hello My Baby by Tish Rabe 

Love the rhythm of Dr. Seuss? This book is part of the "Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That" Series which is patterned off the original work of that beloved author & continues the tradition of inspiring young readers. While it focuses on exotic animals that we Midwesterners only see in zoos it does a great job of explaining all the ways animals in the wild protect & nurture their young. Each page has an overview of the chosen area and a few adult animals that are printed on the top of a flap. Under the flap is the baby of that species with details about the young animals & ways that they are nurtured & protected by their parents.

Why Mom Likes This Book: Baby animals are a great way to get your children to connect with nature & this book backs that up with scientific learning.

Why June Likes This Book: “I like to flip the flaps & seeing all the babies warms my heart.”

#3 - Around the Pond: Who's Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George

In this story a brother & sister are sent out to gather blueberries, but, as sometimes happens, they do just about everything but gather those blueberries as they explore the area around a small pond & learn about the animals that make it their home. Clue after clue leads these detectives on a journey of exploration & discovery, driving home the idea that every place is interesting if you pay attention. 

Why Mom Likes This Book: I like how readers follow the kids out into the pond where the siblings demonstrate great teamwork & discuss their discoveries together. 

Why June Likes This Book: “I like looking at the clues & guessing what the kids found. I also like the dog Sam.”

#2 Secrets of Winter by Carron Brown & Georgina Tee
#1 Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner

Our last two book picks are by the same author & are part of a series of books, so it only seems fitting to combine them. These two books are part of a series of books called "Shine-A-Light". These books use flashlights to reveal their stories showing what is obvious & what is hidden in the world in a fun & interactive way. These are some our absolute favorite bed time books. We turn off the lights in the room & read them with a small flashlight which my 1st grader LOVES! It makes for a memorable & collaborative reading experience between parent & child which is such a great way to bond during reading time.

"Secrets of Winter" introduces reader to animals that are active in the winter months, many that can be seen in our own Midwestern area, & uncovers new information your young reader may not be aware of.

"Secrets of an Apple Tree" turns an every day tree into an entire world as you discover the insects, birds, & other animals that make the tree their home. 

Why Mom Likes These Books: They are scientifically accurate & they provide new & not readily obvious information in a simple & easily understandable way to inspire young learners to see beyond the surface of the world.

Why June Likes These Books: “I love that you get to shine a flashlight to see what is there!”

Check out our second book review Part 2 Book Review, the Top 5 Non-Fiction Informational Nature Books as Identified by a Mom & a First Grader

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