For young children, summertime marks the beginning of endless possibilities when it comes to fun outdoor activities that allows them to explore different environments. Whether it’s the pool, camping, or simply going to play in the backyard, children find it thrilling to observe, learn, and interact every chance they get.
Early childhood educators and parents know very well that in order for children to fully explore and learn from any environment, indoor or outdoor, we must also encourage their imagination and creativity. One way to guide young children to do this is by reading to them. Stories help children to imagine and create worlds that can exist in their imagination and teach them valuable lessons on the importance of connecting with the world.
The following reading list encourages exploration of the indoors and outdoors, and summer themes (e.g. animals, gardens, forest, and even outdoor markets).
1. The Frog in the Well by Alvin Tresselt – This story provides children with the exploration inspiration they need to discover the world outside and why exploring is such an exciting adventure. The story serves as a great metaphor for the world in general and how we’re much happier when we’re roaming free. Beautifully vibrant illustrations!
Themes: Outdoor exploration, forest animals, being unafraid of new environments, and making friends.
2. The Icky Bug Alphabet Board Book by Jerry Pallotta – Great book for little ones to learn names of those icky creatures living in their backyard. A nice way for educators to teach children about new and familiar insects they are bound to discover when exploring the garden, park or any outdoor spaces.
Themes: new insect vocabulary and pictures for animal recognition, interesting facts about each insects, and ABCs learning.
3. Mouse House by Rumer Godden – Though this storyline is a bit lengthy for younger children, it illustrates the underground world of curious creatures and how they explore the inside of a house full of surprises. Young learners will love the lively adventure and trouble the little mouse, Bonnie, gets into as she encounters a doll house and makes it her new home.
Ages: 3 – 7
Themes: Acceptance, comradery, curiosity, and friendship.
4. Fresh Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmer’s Market by Michelle Schaub – This book is pure joy to read to young children, since it includes short poems about what they find when they go to the farmers’ market: the food, the smells, and the community of people combine to make it a stimulating experience.
Themes: light poetry, rhyming, interactions with others, and new food vocabulary.
5. Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole by Lewis Carroll – An abbreviated version of this classic tale is perfect for young learners, as they can get acquainted with this popular and classic story, its interesting characters, and intricate fantasy worlds. The illustrations are charming and vibrant which makes this story have a modern, yet rich look to them.
6. Arthur by Rhoda Levine – This book is a classic tale of a small bird as he takes you through the heart of New York City and its beauty, even in wintertime. It has a comforting tone and attitude about life and how to overcome problems, big or small, as they present themselves.
Ages: 3 -7
Themes: Bravery and decision making, and finding comfort in simple things.