Favorite Reads: Nature Books

Backyard Detective

My kids love the full-page pictures of bugs and other backyard critters in Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close by Nic Bishop. We haven’t spent a lot of time reading the text, but I do like the suggestion of using a paintbrush rather than your fingers to collect bugs. The book also talks about animals eating each other and suggests that you allow a portion of your yard to grow wild so as to attract more critters to your yard. I like the index at the back of the book – it includes the names of all of the critters in the book with thumbnail pictures and the page number(s) where each animal can be found.


Emma especially enjoys looking through this Smithsonian Handbook of Mammals by Juliet Clutton-Brock. There is a LOT of information about each mammal, as well as beautiful pictures. While the book is quite long (400 pages), it is roughly the size of a paperback book and so can be carried around and read by a toddler.


Emperor Penguins Up Close by Carmen Bredeson is the only “Zoom in on Animals!” book we’ve read, so I can’t comment on the series as a whole. The book gives a simple overview of penguins and the text is concise enough that my kids will sit and listen to it. The photographs are fine, but not great quality – a couple are even a bit out of focus but not enough to affect my children’s enjoyment of the book.

A Garden of Opposites

A Garden of Opposites by Nancy Davis is a simple picture book of opposites, but it takes place in a garden and I like the simple illustrations. Most of the opposites are well-done, but the classification of a spade as dull is a little problematic in my opinion, since spades can get quite sharp. The last page is a large fold-out where readers are instructed to find as many opposites as they can, and then the trail of a butterfly on the inside back cover lists all the opposites that can be found on said page.

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

4 thoughts on “Favorite Reads: Nature Books”

  1. I always find it interesting how much my daughters enjoy books with "real" pictures. They still like illustrated books, but books with photographs tend to grab their attention more.

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