top of page

10 Picture Books That Inspire Nature Exploration

Sharing a picture book and playing outside - two of my favorite ways to connect with my girls. Our family especially loves reading inspiring books in nature - so much so that I pack a story every time we head out to explore. Books are a nature walk essential for me, along with snacks, bug spray, and extra clothing! books provide the perfect chance to rest, provide something to do during a snack break, or inspire us to look more closely at the things around us.

Here are 10 of my favorite books to inspire noticing the little things that make being out in nature so amazing.

Simplifying Play participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Hike by Pete Oswald

A child and their father spend the day hiking to plant a tree in this wordless picture book. We notice new details every time we read this book together - and I particularly love the focus on the father/child relationship!

Tiny, Perfect Things by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Madeline Klopper

The magical illustrations and simple text in Tiny, Perfect Things makes us want to go out and hunt for our own tiny perfect things! This book features an intergenerational relationship as a grandpa and little girl explore their neighborhood.

A Year with Mama Earth by Rebecca Gabrill, illustrated by Rebecca Green

Lyrical and peaceful, A Year with Mama Earth invites us to explore and notice the way the Earth changes with each passing month. My girls LOVE looking for the cat on every page!

The Keeper of Wild Words Brooke Smith, illustrated by Madeline Klopper

Another intergenerational story - Grandmother makes Granddaughter Brooke the keeper of disappearing words, like buttercup and starling, as they explore nature around them.

The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Nicky is sent to spend the summer with his Grandma, a self-proclaimed “river rat.” He is annoyed at first - but then he finds a raft covered in beautiful drawings of animals. What follows is a summer of discovery, both of nature and art. Beautiful story and lovely illustrations bring us back to the book time and time again!

A Magical, Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

The main character of this story is annoyed to have to spend another weekend in the woods with their mom, and when their device’s batteries die they are furious! But then they head out the door to explore the woods and a whole world of magic opens up for them!

What Can You Do With a Rock? By Pat Zeitlow Miller, illustrated by Katie Kath

Rocks are one of my children’s most prized nature finds - and this book is filled with ideas of how to use them, categorize them, and when to leave them where they are!

The Hike by Allison Farrell

Join 3 friends as they head out for a hike, complete with nature journals, binoculars, animal sightings, and plant identification. An inspiring text for young naturalists and story lovers alike!

Run Wild by David Covell

This is such a fun read - filled with the sights and sounds and discoveries that two friends make as they take their shoes off and run wild!

The Mushroom Fan Club By Elise Gravel

Elise Gravel’s nonfiction graphic novels are delightful - we love the Disgusting Critter Series! But the Bug Club and Mushroom Fan Club are fun to read and serve as mini Field Guides for young children! Gravel’s passion for the topics she covers is contagious!

Looking for more inspiring, fun-to-read nature books? Check out my nature curriculum, Nature Play Today. Each month focuses on one area of nature, complete with art and play ideas, guided nature walks, and lots of book recommendations!


bottom of page