There’s no better way to encourage young readers to explore nature than to introduce them to its many wonders in the pages of a colourful picturebook before releasing them into the wild equipped with knowledge, sunglasses and a woolly hat. After a very long winter and a snowy spring, it is predicted that come mid May we are set to have a glorious summer! But let’s not hold our breaths – just yet – or hang up our waterproofs for now. Despite the changeable weather, we have some dependable books packed with ideas to get us outside come hail, rain or shine. Everything from poems on football to building survival shelters – our latest books are sure to please even the most reluctant explorers and armchair football fans. Collaboration, cooperation and observation are just some of the many aspects highlighted in this awesome collection set to coax you outside.
Tiny readers (under 2) will love lifting the flaps in Petr Horáček’s boardbook Who is Sleeping? while discovering the many places creatures lay their weary heads. Young readers (2+) will long to get their eager hands on Frances Barry’s Caterpillar to Butterfly. The circular shape and bright colours will grab their attention while the vibrant illustrations, simple text and clever format is sure to create a buzz.
Readers aged 4+ will want to climb into the magnificent pages of Everything You Need For a Treehouse before assembling their own treehouse. Young football fanatics will love John Foster’s Fantastic Football Poems with hilarious illustrations by Korky Paul. Football School by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton, illustrated by Spike Gerrell, is a brilliant quiz book filled with ‘tantalising trivia’ and amusing drawings with over 300 questions. Fantastic Footballers by Jean-Michel Billioud, illustrated by Almasty, will delight enthusiastic older readers introducing them to male and female influential players.
As well as fun-filled fact books, there are many classic and contemporary novels extolling the virtues of nature and the lure of outdoor adventures, for readers of 7+ The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit are favourites. Older readers aged 9+ will enjoy The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.
Intrepid explorers aged 8+ will devour Explore and Survival the latest handbooks in the ‘Buster Know-How’ series. Learn useful skills like ‘How to survive at the school disco’ to ‘How to survive a zombie invasion’! It also shows you how to make a compass out of the sun and how to be a modest hero. Explorer Bugs! by Nick Forshaw and William Exley is teeming with insects of every kind. This fascinating information book also has a 1.8 metre timeline so that young aspiring entomologists can trace the history of insects.
Before setting off on your adventure don’t forget to bring: a torch, compass, map, binoculars, snacks – but most of all – a good book!
Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins, Illustrated by Emily Hughes
For ages 4+
‘Everything you need for a treehouse starts with time and looking up…’ This is a truly charming and inspirational book which will have you longing for your own treehouse – if you haven’t one already. It even advises you on what snacks to pack and reminds you to wear warm socks while you hide out in your perfect lair. The bright and wonderful illustrations trace the changing seasons and highlight the wonder of nature. It encourages outdoor enthusiasts to invite their friends around and share the joy of having a special place amongst the tall branches to call their own.
The Magic Garden by Carme Lemniscates
For ages 4-6
The Magic Garden is a visual delight throughout. From the eye-catching double page spreads, the uplifting illustrations to the informative text, Lemniscates has created a magical book. Follow Chloe on her journey through her garden and observe the many wonders occurring. There are lots of natural wonders to pique your interest – from the lifecycle of the caterpillar to the joys of observing spiders spinning their webs and watching seeds growing into fruit trees. With information pages at the back providing facts on nature from camouflage to pollination, this book is sure to be read many times over.
Explore: How to Explore Everything, Everywhere by Anita Ganeri, Illustrated by Dusan Pavlic
For ages 8-12
From the adventurous and imaginative ‘Buster Know-How’ series comes the latest practical and entertaining handbook Explore: How to explore everything, everywhere. Covering an eclectic range of diverse subjects from ‘How to cross a glacier in Argentina’ to ‘How to use chopsticks in China’, including warning signs as well as hot tips, this handbook will teach older readers many new skills to become an explorer. My favourite skill is ‘How to remove a leech in Madagascar’ – I just hope I never have to use it! See also: Survival: How to survive anything, anywhere
Fantastic Footballers, Inspiring Icons
By Jean-michel Billioud, Illustrated by Almasty
For ages 8-12
Meet game changers – male and female – in this handsome collection featuring forty iconic players of all time. Fantastic Footballers is a stylish fact-filled book crammed with profiles of international football heroes from Pelé to Mia Hamm – ‘the most famous women’s footballer of the 1990s!’ This striking fact book is a remarkable introduction to game changers and champion league legends, tracing their histories and outlining their incredible achievements along the way. An outstanding sports fact book!
Síne Quinn is an editor with an M.Phil in Children’s Literature. She is the editor with the Bookmarks Programme at Trinity College Dublin and a Children’s Books Ireland book doctor.