Media Reviews: Books to Help Children Explore Nature

This assortment of titles and an app recommended by Columbus Metropolitan Library has something for children of all ages.

Kristine Neinast
Recommended children's books from our Spring issue

Counting Creatures by Julia Donaldson, illustrations by Sharon King-Chai

Young ones can learn to count while they take a journey around the world to meet a range of wildlife in “Counting Creatures.” From a backyard bat to African wild dogs, find joy in each animal and their adorable young. Every page is interactive and exquisitely illustrated. What a wonderful way to introduce the beauty of nature to aspiring enthusiasts. FOR AGES BIRTH TO 5

The Bug Collector by Alex G. Griffiths

George loves nothing more than to go on adventures with his grandfather. One afternoon, they go to the Museum of Wildlife, where he is fascinated by a collection of invertebrates. When George gets home, he captures all the crawling, slithering, flying critters around his grandfather’s garden to make his own collection. He is surprised to realize how sad he is once there is no fluttering or buzzing around him because all of the bugs are in jars. George learns that each of these tiny creatures has a role to play, and they are best enjoyed in their natural habitat. FOR AGES 4-8

This Poem Is a Nest by Irene Latham, art by Johanna Wright

“This Poem Is a Nest” is a great way to introduce middle-grade readers to found poems or blackout poetry using the creative imagery of a bird preparing its nest. This collection of poems touches on topics from the seasons to our emotions and even outer space. The poems are full of whimsy that readers are sure to enjoy. The book will also inspire new poets with helpful suggestions and encouragement on how to build their own “nest” of poems. FOR AGES 8-12

Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly

This fanciful tale is inspired by Filipino folklore and full of natural and mystical wonder, but where there is beauty there is also darkness and danger. Lalani sets out on a traditional journey that always ends in death for her chosen male predecessors, but she is not chosen. Lalani is a misfit who is no stranger to bullies and abuse from fellow islanders. She finds the courage to risk herself because she is grief-stricken over her mother’s fatal illness and plagued with guilt for allowing herself to be the victim of trickery that causes destruction on her island. Though her situation is bleak, Lalani finds hope and redemption on her way to becoming a heroine. FOR AGES 10-14

The Science of Natural Disasters: When Nature and Humans Collide by Diane C. Taylor, illustrations by Traci Van Wagoner

This interactive nonfiction book discusses devastating wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes as well as the science behind these events. While these disasters may seem to be random phenomena, there is actually science and fact that explain their occurrence. Readers will love the additional STEM activities. Assess the flood risk for your town, or engineer hurricane-resistant cities. These activities will help teens think critically about natural disasters and have fun in the process. FOR TEENS


Seek by iNaturalist

Seek is the kid-friendly version of iNaturalist, an app that allows anyone to contribute to science. It is a perfect way to encourage children and families to experience the outdoors. Use your device’s camera to identify the wildlife encountered on family expeditions and become more informed about your neighborhood ecosystem. FOR AGES 4-14

Kristine Neinast is a youth services specialist at the Reynoldsburg branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

This story is from the Spring 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.