Books to get kids outside this spring


(Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
April 1, 2013

The flowers are blooming, the days are growing longer and temperatures are creeping up. All of which means it’s a great time to get outside and play, run around, have an ad­ven­ture and explore nature.

But after several months of shorter days and weather that makes you not want to do anything but stay inside snuggled under a blanket, you might need some inspiration for how to explore the great outdoors. So here are four new books about fun things to do outside. Our first suggestion: Read the books outside in the sun!

The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book

by Stacey Tornio and Ken Keffler
All ages. $18.95.

This book boasts 448 great things to do in nature before you grow up. You’ve probably already done some of them, including splash in a puddle and pack a picnic lunch, so you can check the box next to the item in the book. And you could probably easily do some of the others, but maybe you’ve never even thought to do them (such as closely looking at a spider web). And some will be pretty challenging but very cool, including harvesting honey and watching bats at sunset. Each activity is ranked on an ad­ven­ture scale from 1 to 5, so watching the sun set is a 1, while hanging upside down from a tree is a 3 and creating a fort is a 5.

The Motorboat Book

by Ed Sobey

Age 9 and older. $14.95.

This book guides crafty and mechanically inclined kids in how to build models of jet boats, paddlewheelers and even submarines! You’re likely to have many of the needed supplies at home, including a milk carton, foam cups and plates, and balloons. There are some interesting science lessons to be learned here, including how gravity can power a boat. Our favorite was a DUKW (pronounced “duck”) boat, built with — you guessed it — a rubber ducky. Of course, the best part is that after you’ve built a boat or two (or more!), you can go outside and sail them in a pond, stream or swimming pool.

Look Up! Bird-Watching
in Your Own Backyard

by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Age 7 and older. $15.99.

The greatest part of this activity is that all you really need to do is what the title of this book says. Go outside and look up. You’re likely to see and hear birds as soon as you start paying attention, especially this time of year. This book — told with funny, bright, cartoon illustrations — is filled with amazing facts. (For example, sometimes a large group of small birds will band together to chase a bigger bird away from their territory; that behavior is called “mobbing.”) The book talks about things to pay special attention to when looking at birds, including the number of toes they have, their colorful markings and their feathers.

How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids

by Carol Pasternak

Age 6 and older. $8.95.

One of the most remarkable changes in nature is how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, and this book, filled with beautiful photographs, tells kids how that change takes place and why it’s so important for the environment. The book’s easy-to-follow instructions, from finding caterpillars or monarch eggs to caring for them, will inspire you. But as the book points out, you need to be dedicated if you want to raise butterflies. Caterpillars require care every day, the author says, just like “your puppy, goldfish or hamster.”

— Tracy Grant

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