For wonder-filled, read-aloud picture books, look for author Jane Yolen. Her Caldecott-winning father-daughter tale, Owl Moon, should not be missed: “When you go owling, you don’t need words or warm or anything but hope.”
Also look for Sacred Places, poems and paintings on 12 magical spots around the world; and Ring of Earth, a child’s book of seasons told through animal-voiced poems.
Local D.C. author Lynne Cherry’s beautifully illustrated environmental stories take children to Brazil in The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Fain Forest; to historic New England in A River Ran Wild; and from the Maryland woods to the Costa Rican rain forest in Flute’s Journey: The Life of a Wood Thrush.
Older elementary schoolers will enjoy wandering the woods and fields with Ernest Thompson Seton’s timeless true animal stories in Wild Animals I Have Known, following the exploits of Raggeylug the cottontail rabbit, Lobo the wolf and Silverspot the crow. Be sure to find a copy complete with Seton’s original sketches and illustrations.
Teenagers, who may have learned of author Gary Paulsen through his Hatchet series, will want to read these other favorites: adventure-laden Canyons; and The Island, where 15-year old Wil learns about himself, Thoreau-like, through nature.
All ages can travel to our southwestern deserts with books by Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Peter Parnell. A favorite is Everybody Needs a Rock, which gives 10 rules for finding a rock: “Rule number 3: Bend over. More. Even more. You may have to sit on the ground with your head almost touching the earth. You have to look a rock right in the eye.”