nature books for children

Here are two superb books with two very different approaches to helping children learn about and appreciate the natural world.

One of them is a reprint of a book first published in 1923.  If you look very hard at the pictures and the pop up illustrations, this book may help you find a fairy, hiding in a tree, flower or among butterflies.

It tells you what a tree fairy looks like so you know what to look for.

It explains that fairy houses are not easy to see, so you must watch very carefully for hidden entrances.

Don't forget to keep a close eye on butterfies, because fairy wings resemble butterfly wings.

In a garden full of flowers it is likely that there are many fairies.

The other book has been meticulously researched by its Australian author. It has wonderfully detailed pictures and information about the animals, birds, spiders and insects that inhabit the teeming dramatic hidden world of leaf litter.

This book has flaps to lift that show you what is underground.

Under this flap we see a cicada nymph quietly sucking sap from a tree root. It's almost fully grown and ready to crawl out of the leaf litter.

Lots of animals are having babies now that spring has arrived.

A brown snake has just woken from hibernation. It's hungry, smells mice with its flickering tongue,  slides down the burrow, catches the father mouse and swallows it whole.

Now it's summer, and insects split their pupal cases and nymph skins and change into butterflies, moths, praying mantises and lots more kinds of insects. A southern brown tree frog climbs back into the tree for safety after it was knocked to the ground by a bird looking for insects.

There's so much to see and so much to learn in the Things to Find section. Some of these Things to Find are tiny and subtle. For example, on one page can you spot a half chewed leaf and the katydid that ate it? And a fascinating fact if you don't already know it or have forgotten: Like grasshoppers katydids hear with their front legs.

So there you have it. You want science based nature? You got it. You want fairies in the garden? You got it. But why choose? Anything that helps children appreciate nature is worth looking at.

Barker, Cicely Mary (2007) How to Find Flower Fairies. Frederick Warne.
Tonkin, Rachel (2006)  Leaf Litter. Angus and Robertson.


  1. Great post! I'm going to acquire these I think.

  2. Great to encourage observation.

  3. Love books like these. Whether children still read them ? Came across a good fairy artist only yesterday

  4. I love any books that encourage children to explore deeper into their gardens or countryside, it was what first whetted my appetite, many, many years ago! When I then eventually got my first garden I made the decision to be organic because of what I had learnt as a child, not to upset the balance of nature, this was when everyone else was spraying everything that moved!Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!

  5. What a wonderful book. Anyone will be happy to recieve this as a gift.

  6. Thanks for sharing these two lovely books with us. Now I am a Grandma I am going to really enjoy revisiting childrens books and Fairies.
    Thanks Catmint for visiting my blog and your good wishes. I too miss my garden blogging friends and still enjoy a casual glimpse as they come up on my dashboard, as you can see I am busy with my Lyme Disease blog and all that advocacy takes up so much time but so worth while when months after meeting people you hear they are on the road to recovery once they get the right long term antibiotics. All the best to you in 2012

  7. That is one pretty fairy book. My goddaughter is in a "plantmania" phase right now. A child who asked for plants for Christmas. I think she will be getting an extra, if late, gift. Thank you for heads up.

    Happy New Year!

  8. Dear Jess, so pleased like the books enough to add to your collection.

    Dear Denis, yes - observation can't start too young, preferably before one's eyesight deteriorates - sorta lol!

    Hi Hermes, thanks for the link, some inspiring stuff there, specifically the fairy houses.

    Hi Pauline, I think I was also influenced by early childhood experiences, and luckily seem to have passed my nature values to my children.

    Thanks, Faisal.

    Dear Joanne, you are obviously doing wonderful work in the field of LD, but I'm so pleased you can make time to keep in touch with fellow garden bloggers.

    Hi Diana, I wondered if you're considering them for your boys?

    Hi Bom, sounds perfect for a young plant-maniac - could be she was influenced by her godparent???????

    Happy new year to you, dear cyberfriends, from catmint

  9. Happy new year! I really like the drawings
    In this book and it's cleverly done.

  10. Hello Catmint :) What a great idea to combine books to appeal to both the imaginative and the scientific young mind! I will have to seek out Leaf Litter - although my daughter is a little older perhaps than the book is aiming for, she is fascinated with life in the garden. Thanks for the recommendations!

  11. ooh, that leaf litter book looks great! What an ornate pop up book. I think my niece would like that fairy one.

  12. BTW Love your new look, but was disoriented at first. Had to hunt for your About, to remind myself where I was. For new readers, and confused old ones, it is good to keep the About highly visible.

  13. The first book looks absolutely gorgeous. What a wonderful little treat. And I may have the perfect niece for that second one. Wonderful finds!


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