Ellie's Recommended Reads for Kids


One Day in the Woods.  Jean Craighead George.  1989.  This author has written many award winning books (like Julie of the Wolves, and My Side of the Mountain). In this one a child spends a day alone, exploring in the Hudson Highlands of New York. The climax arrives at sunset when she finds an ovenbird. 64 p.

One Day on Beetle Rock.  Sally Carrighar.  New edition illustrated by Carl Dennis Buell.  2002.  Heydey Books. This tale takes place in Sequoia National Park and follows one day in the lives of animals that live around a granite outcropping. You can tell the stories come from real-life observations.

Who Really Killed Cock Robin? An Ecological Mystery.  Jean Craighead George.  1971.  Dutton.  Death of cock robin is a significant clue in an ecological mystery.  A young boy is the detective who uses science and determination to use clues of overpopulating ants and a sudden absence of frogs to solve the mystery.

The Raft.  Jim LaMarche.  2000.  Harper Collins. Nicky doesn’t look forward to a summer with grandma in Wisconsin, but when he discovers her raft he uses it to explore the wondrous world and animals around him. I think you’ll like the beautiful illustrations.

Eliza and the Dragonfly.  Susie Caldwell Rinehart. 2005.  Eliza explores a pond with her aunt, the entomologist.  Her initial response (“Eeeewww!”) changes to a fascination of these insects. Watercolor illustrations.


Ancient Ones; The World of Old Growth Douglas Fir.   Barbara Bash.  1994.  Sierra Club Books.  I loved the illustrations in this book.  There are many pictures of the animals in the forest where I live.

While a Tree was Growing. Jane Bosveld. Illustrated by Daniel O’Leary.   1997.  American Museum of Natural History; Workman Publishing. New York.  This is about big trees in California.  It has an interesting timeline of what is happening in world history while the tree is growing (beginning in 1500 BC!).

A Log’s Life. Wendy Pfeffer.  Illustrated by Robin Buckman. 1997.   Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  New York, New York.  This story begins “One stormy day a strong wind whips through the forest”, and show how animals in an eastern oak forest use the log, then follows the cycle of log decay and young oaks that sprout from acorns. I thought the collages handcut from watercolor paintings were amazing.

The Woods Scientist (Scientists in the Field series).  Stephen R. Swinburne.  Illustrations and photos by Susan C. Morse.  2003. Houghton Mifflin.  Forester Sue Morse describes how she uses tracks and traces to interpret wildlife behavior.  I like the great photographs. 48 p.

Garden of the Spirit Bear: Life in the Great Northern Rainforest. 2005.  Dorothy Hinshaw Patent.  Illustrated by Deborah Milton.  Clarion Books. Beautiful illustrations show how trees of the forest, salmon and bears are related, and what logging activities might threaten them.

The Temperate Forest: A Web of Life.  Philip Johnasson.  2006. Enslow Publishers. A temperate forest is one where summers are warm, winters are cold and the rest of the year is mild.  My home is in a temperate zone, like most of the United States. This book uses nice photographs to tell about plant and animals living in a temperate forest, and helps you understand food webs and energy flow.  48 p.

A few ideas about writing your own field notebook:

My Nature Journal, A Personal Nature Guide for Younger People.  Adrienne Olmstead. 1999.  Pajaro.  There are short explanations of many places: woodlands, meadows, ponds, streams and seashore.  Lots of space for your to make your own observations, checklists and drawings.

Looking for Seabirds: Journal from an Alaskan Voyage.  Sophie Webb.  2005.  Houghton Mifflin. This book is about a different kind of ecosystem, but I really enjoyed the author’s style of a field notebook.  She tells about researchers observing arctic habitat (that is way cool).  Her watercolor sketches and drawings are sprinkled all through the story. 40 p.

The Brook Book; Exploring the Smallest Streams.  Jim Arnosky.  2008.  Dutton Children’s Books.  Here is a book that uses journal entries to describe how you could explore a small stream.  I loved the watercolor illustrations of plants, aquatic insects, and fish. You might also like the hints for making observations and collections.