10 children’s books all about nature

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A great way to get kids interested in nature is to read books that have inspiring characters and animals that also love the outdoors.

Lessons about bees and their pollination skills, the importance of rattlesnakes to the environment, why we should take care of trees and what is neat about bats can all be learned through the power of story.

Books are often incorporated into children's programs at the Dickinson County Nature Center, and we love to see kids engage with the stories as we read them.

If you're looking for a good nature-related book to read to your children or grandchildren or to give as a gift to a special child in your life, check out some of our favorite books used in our programming.

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"Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book" by Britta Teckentrup

(Find it on Amazon)

From the back cover: Fly along with Bee on her very busy day. Peek through the holes of this bright and lively book, and discover the bustling life of a bee. Children will love discovering the big ways this little insect contributes to the beauty of the environment, from pollinating colorful flowers to buzzing about the sunny, beautiful meadow.

(Read "Six Ways Native Bees Differ from Honeybees")

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"Are You a Fish? An Osprey Tale" by Daniel A. D'Auria M.D.

(Find it on Amazon)

From the preface: The osprey represents one of the most widespread single species of bird in the world. Osprey can be found on all continents except Antarctica. If there is a sustainable water supply containing fish nearby, osprey are likely to be present. These photos were taken in places as diverse as the canyons of Yellowstone, the Teton Valley, and the coastal regions of New Jersey and Florida.

(Seven ways osprey differ from bald eagles.)

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"Soft Child: How Rattlesnake Got Its Fangs" by Joe Hayes

(Find on Amazon)

From the back cover: This time the story is adapted from the Tohono O'odham (Papago) lore and tells of Soft Child, a gentle snake who is constantly tormented by Mountain Lion, Coyote, Porcupine, and his other desert neighbors.

(How snakes can move without legs.)

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"The Acorn and the Oak Tree" by Lori C. Froeb

(Find on Amazon)

From the back cover: Every living thing grows, and this beautiful book tells a story about growth in a tender and unique way. Readers follow an acorn as it falls off the old oak, takes root, and, through time, becomes a big, strong tree. As children turn the pages, a little bit of the acorn goes away and a small piece of the adult oak tree appears --- making this sweet story about an acorn's journey from seed to tree a favorite for bedtime or anytime.

(What is the fuzzy stuff on my oak leaves?)

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"Snowflakes Fall" by Patricia MachLachlan

(Find on Amazon)

From the dust cover: In "Snowflakes Fall," Newberry Medalist Patricia MacLachlan portrays life's natural cycle: its beauty, its joy, and its sorrow. Her simple but powerful words gently convey the impact of loss and the healing power of memory. This book is a tribute to the qualities that make each individual unique.

(Are all snowflakes unique?)

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"Green" by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

(Find on Amazon)

From dust cover: How many kinds of green are there? There's the lush green of a forest on a late spring day, the fresh juicy green of a just-cut lime, the incandescent green of a firefly, and the vivid aquamarine of a tropical sea. In her newest book, Caldecott and Geisel Honor Book author Laura Vaccaro Seeger fashions an homage to a single color and, in doing so, creates a book that will delight and, quite possibly, astonish you.

(Find information on our St. Patty's Pajama Party.)

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"Box Turtle at Long Pond" by William T. George

(Find at Amazon)

From dust cover: It is dawn at Long Pond, Box Turtle's red eyes  look out from his shelter within a crumbling tree and his day begins...

(Seven things Teddy the ornate box turtle wants you to know about him.)

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"Fish is Fish" by Leo Lionni

(Find on Amazon)

From the back cover: The minnow and the tadpole are inseparable friends until, one day, the tadpole grows legs and hops away to explore the land with its wondrous creatures and colors. The minnow wants to follow, but what's really in store for a fish out of water?

(See live fish at the Dickinson County Nature Center.)

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"Stellaluna" by Janell Cannon

(Find on Amazon)

Amazon description: While out searching for food, fruit bat Stellaluna and her mother are attacked by a vicious owl. Stellaluna is separated from Mother Bat and taken in by a family of birds where she must put aside her bat habits to fit in with her new family. But one fateful flight when she is separated from her adoptive siblings, Stellaluna is reunited with her bat family and learns that even though we’re different, we’re very much the same.

(Why we should love bats.)

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"The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein

(Find on Amazon)

From the dust cover: "Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk..and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave.

(Why do evergreen trees stay green?)

Comment below if you have suggestions of any other books people should check out.

5 rock books for kids

Rocks can be the perfect way to get little ones interested in the outdoors. They’re easy to find. They can be touched, picked up and collected. There is a wide variety, from sparkly to chalk-like, smooth to holey. Read a good book about rocks and then head outside to see what rocks you can find! Read More »

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Recycled bunny bookmark

Bindi, named after conservationist Steve Irwin’s daughter, Bindi Irwin, is the newest animal ambassador at the Dickinson County Nature Center as of August 2018. In honor of her arrival, today’s craft is bunny-themed! (Learn about cottontail rabbits) To make this adorable bunny bookmark, you’ll need: An envelope, a used one is fine Scissors Glue Googly Read More »

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Watch the Okoboji Osprey lifespan

From migrating north to reproduction and caring for chicks to migration south, the osprey lifespan is fascinating! Don’t forget to download the Okoboji Osprey Activity Book complete with word search, dot-to-dot and Migration Mad Libs. Click here to access the free activity book.

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My Giving Tree craft

Crafts don’t always come together the way you think they will. I had a brilliant idea this morning to make place cards with leaf etchings on them, and I tried it out. Yikes. Ugly. If you come up with something pretty with that idea, let me know. So instead, I decided to post how to Read More »

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Bats in Iowa: Myths, facts and why we should love them

I get odd looks when I tell people that I think bats are cute. This first summer that I worked at the Dickinson County Nature Center, we had a family bring in a little brown bat that they had found on their driveway. (If you find a bat on the ground, give us a call Read More »

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Five bee myths and truths

Myth: Bees are mean. Truth: Bee are nice. Honeybees only sting as a last resort, because they die after stinging. That means, unless they feel threatened or think you are going to hurt the hive, they will leave you alone. Myth: Bees will keep stinging you. Truth: As stated above, honeybees will die after stinging Read More »

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