Book reviews - nature

We have reviewed here a selection of books to encourage children to get out and about and enjoy the world around them. Gardening is a super way to encourage children to spend time outside, with the added benefit of growing your own food.

Bug Hotel (A Clover Robin Book of Nature)

I love these books - what a brilliant way to enthuse young children for nature! First off, there are cut-out shapes on the cover to encourage little fingers to explore and to learn the shapes of creatures. Through the pages of this board book, which has lots of flaps to explore, children will discover how a bug hotel can create a sustainable, safe environment for insects and mini-beasts. Bee, butterfly, beetle, snail, spider and ladybird each have their own page with plenty of factsand gorgeous illustrations showing the creatures in their habitats. Everyone can build a bug hotel and the book concludes by showing you howl - you just need a piece of wall and some basic bits and pieces to make a home for nature. Appropriately enough, these books are published by Caterpillar Books!

Bird House (A Clover Robin Book of Nature)

Just like the previous book, this house-shaped board book has enticing peepholes on the cover. Inside, there are pages on all sorts of different bird homes including dovecotes, duckhouses, nest boxes, owl boxes... and brid feeders too. All these show how man has helped the birds by providing them with suitable homes. There are lots of flaps to explore with more pictures to enjoy and facts to discover. The book is so attractive it will really encourage children to take an interest in nature and there are suggestions that children can put into action so they can encourage birds. A really lovely introduction to the nature that is close to home.

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valerio

This unusual book depicts birds from around the UK in beautiful collage illustrations by a bird-loving artist - the combination leads to some stunning illustrations. Short but informative descriptions highlight intriguing facts about each bird - the sort of unusual facts that stick in the mind. The birds are shown in their natural habitats as they hunt for food, impress their mates, nest, and care for their young. The illustrations are unusual and eye-catching and coupled with the descriptions and backgrounds, they make it easy to identify and remember the birds. The book includes an introduction, glossary, index and sources for further information - children will really be encouraged to find out more about birds after enjoying this remarkable hardback book.

Walk This Wild World by Sam Brewster

Big Picture Press can be relied on to bring us stunning books and this landscape format hardback book is no exception. This lift-the-flap book takes young readers on an exciting worldwide journey, celebrating nature in all its diversity. Each page takes the reader to a new habitat or continent, starting with the Arctic and ending in the Australian desert. Each page features a multitude of flaps to life, and each flap features additional text information - this works well alongside the general text, making the book accessible for a range of readers. The stunning illustrations are in bold bright colours and there is a mass of detail in each one to enjoy and to talk about. A beautiful book.

The Little Book of Night-time Animal Sounds by Caz Buckingham & Andrea Pinnington

If you've ever been out at night and heard a strange cacophony of noises but been unable to identify them, then help is at hand. Or have you lain in bed wondering if that was a little owl, a barn owl, or a tawny owl? This is the book you need. Twelve night-time creatures are illustrated in full colour against an appropriate background - and there's a sound button for each. The sounds are exceptionally good, very clear and realistic and a good length so you get the variations. There's an interesting paragraph about each creature, and a list of key facts. Maybe you have a child who is reluctant to go to sleep because of noises they hear at night; if that's the case, enjoy sharing this lovely book with all its sounds, and reassure your child. It's a well produced board/sound book that is far from being just for young ones - I found it quite fascinating. Another great book from Fine Feather Press, who do so much to encourage children to engage with nature.

The Nature Explorer's Scrapbook by Andrea Pinnington

Sadly, children are spending less and less time outdoors - long gone are the days when children could roam freely without adults. As a result, children are losing the closeness they used to have with nature - but the nature lovers at Fine Feather Press are working away to ensure children do experience and understand the natural world. This book is a fascinating mix of album, part manual and nature guide. Arranged in three main sections - earth, air and water, the 80 pages of this book describe the natural items in detail, showing children what to look for in the wild, illustrated with detailed and accurate coloured drawings. There are suggestions of activities to enjoy with the found items, plus pages for children to stick in their own collections, include photos, or to draw pictures of what they have found. Always, the emphasis is on what can be collected and what should be left to preserve nature. Each page marks a new adventure as you are guided through the world of nature and invited to search for, explore and gather things as diverse as skulls and shells, tadpoles and trilobites. It's a stunningly presented book with beautiful illustrations which really help us all appreciate the marvels and beauty of nature. The design of the book is superb - right up there with the best; a joy to read. The book will become a real treasure for children as they make their own collections and create a wonderful personal nature reference book.

It Starts With A Seed by Laura Knowles

Simple rhyming text, a sentence to a page, accompanies beautiful coloured drawings to take the reader on a journey through the seasons and years. The book follows the seed as it transforms from a seedling to a sapling, then a young tree, until it becomes a large tree with its branches and roots filling the page - it's really effectively down, as we see the tree grow through the pages. As the tree grows, it is joined by well-loved woodland creatures – squirrels and rabbits, butterflies and owls – who make it their home. It's a beautifully told story that shows the cycle of life and the important role played by trees in providing wildlife habitats. This beautifully presented has a gold embossed front cover, gatefolds, textured paper and specialised etching technique, hand made by the illustrator throughout.

Nature Explorer Guide for Kids (Ultimate Guides) by Michael Leach

This is very much a practical book, one to be used alongside identification guides. It looks in detail at the practical skills needed to track, observe and photograph wildlife in their natural habitats. It covers bush-craft, equipment, safety, identification, and photography, focusing on a range of habitats such as woodland, urban, mountains and water. These are interspersed with fascinating Q+A sections that give an intriguing glimpse into what it's like to be a professional working with nature discovery and photography. The book goes much more deeply into the techniques used to explore and discover nature, so it will have a well-deserved place alongside other nature books; it's also enjoyable for armchair naturalists, as they will enjoy learning about the way nature is explored as well as appreciating the excellent photos in the book. With its flexible binding and pocket size, it's perfect for taking when out and about enjoying nature.

British Wildlife (Marvellous Menageries) from QED

This is another beautiful book from QED which will appeal to nature fans young and old. From familiar friends to the rare and elusive, from foxes to fungi and fish to flowers, the British Isles are bursting with more wildlife than you might think. There is so much to look at and discuss in this collection of native wonders. Some pages are arranged by habitat, so you will find, for example, garden guests, saltwater swimmers, tremendous trees and river waders. There are also pages for groups, such as nuts and seeds, smooth and slithery, creepy crawlies and seabird squawkers - don't you agree, the page titles really make you want to investigate? The illustrations are gorgeous - there's plenty of detail to aid identification, all set out on prettily bordered pages, and using a lovely range of fonts for naming. It's perfect to inspire everyone to get outside, looking at the natural world and discovering creatures and plants they may not have known existed.

Highest Mountain Deepest Ocean by Kate Baker

Subtitled 'A Pictorial Compendium of Natural Wonders', this really is a book to marvel over with its fascinating look at things at the extremes of nature, whether it be height, depth and size. When you have read this book, you will know how deep the deepest ocean goes; which creature was the largest to ever live; how old the oldest tree is and many more fascinating facts. Page Tsou's extraordinarily detailed illustrations have a lithograph aesthetic that is at once vintage and contemporary; the layout of the book is really enticing. This is yet another gorgeous book from Big Picture Press to fill readers with wonder at the world we live in. There is a huge amount of information to enjoy, with informative text alongside the pictures.

Brilliant Birds from QED Publishing

This beautiful book, with over 300 birds of all shapes and sizes and from all around the world, will engage and amaze readers of all ages. Marvel at the most colourful, beautiful and bizarre birds on earth, all depicted in gloriously detailed illustrations. the birds are grouped to showcase the features that make them special, so we have crafty camouflage, diving champions, lovely and long, funny feet and many more enticing groupings. The presentation is excellent, with engagingly laid out pages with text borders and habitat and location for each bird. A book to share and enjoy together; a perfect gift.

A Walk on the Wild Side by Louis Thomas

Subtitled 'Join the adventure to see animals around the world', this colourful book makes the natural world exciting for children as they get to know 65 animal friends by joining two boys on a world journey. This album groups animal life in a range of habitats, including farm, jungle, grassland and the home. The colourful illustrations show each creature in its own habitat; all depicted in great detail and offering plenty of opportunity for discussion. It's a very child-friendly approach but one that is, nonetheless, highly informative.

Insect Emporium by Susie Brooks and Dawn Cooper

A beautiful gold-embossed cover will immediately draw people into this book and the contents will not disappoint. I love the title too - emporium suggests to me a collection of treasures, making me want to explore. Marvel at the wonders of insect life as you explore insect life cycles, dragonflies, bees, wasps, ladybirds, weevils and a whole host of others. Grouped together by type, the insects are well laid out on the pages, making it easy to study each one in detail. This beautiful collection of insects contains a limited edition print of Dawn Cooper's gorgeous illustrations. A perfect gift book, this is one that children and adults will appreciate and enjoy for many years, helping them to appreciate the insect world.

Bee: Nature's Tiny Miracle by Patricia Hegarty illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Children are encouraged to look inside this book through the die cut cover and decreasing cut-outs which progress through the book. Through rhyming text, the book follows the amazing story of a little bee and its journey from flower to flower. The lyrical text and stunning artwork combine to show the reader the vital importance of this little insect and the miracle of pollination it aids. The pictures are real works of art, depicting the beauty of nature in a lovely way; throughout the book, the illustrations will stimulate discussion and text and pictures strengthen our desire to support this endangered creature. A beautiful book.

[Your child's name] and the Bumblebee from Friends of the Earth

This very special book will arrive personalised for your child, just as my copy did. It will be a special treasure for children, who will learn about the plight of bumblebees through their very own book. Written in rhyming couplets by David Greaves and gorgeously illustrated by Danielle Callaghan, the book tells about a bumblebee. who loses her home and who is helped by the star of the book - your own child. The personalised story gives the chance to put their name and ‘likeness’ into the book, to place them right at the heart of the action. The story becomes all about them and the bumblebee. The aim of this Friends of the Earth book is to teach young children why bees are so important in a fun and engaging way. The important message of the book helps us all to realise why we should embrace and respect nature. Order your personalised copy from Friends of the Earth - all profits will help FoE to protect the wellbeing of people and planet, including their vital work to protect bees. This is helping to create bee-friendly spaces all over the country and protect Britain’s bees from nasty chemicals.

The National Trust: Complete Bird Spotter's Kit by Robyn Swift

Children will love to get outside enjoying birdwatching with this super kit which comes neatly packed in its very own clear plastic backpack (there's even room for a water bottle and a snack!). It includes a set of bright yellow binoculars which can be adjusted to fit and focus and which have a safety cord. Once they have a bird in their sights, details can be jotted down in the handy notebook (a pencil is included). The spotter's guide is packed with useful information about how to get started, as well as a comprehensive field guide section full of expert tips on how to identify over 100 species. The birds are divided into sections such as water birds and wading birds and the key along the edges of the pages makes it easy to find the right section. There's a description of each bird, which includes where they live, what they eat and what they sound like. This complete kit is the perfect introduction to birdwatching for children aged 8-12; a great way to spark an interest. This book and the one below are a result of Nosy Crow's collaboration with the National Trust - look out for more books in NT shops.

The National Trust: Look and Say What You See in the Countryside by Sebastien Braun

Children enjoy spotting various items on the pages of a book and it's a great way to encourage observation and conversation. There's a 'Can you see?' strip across the bottom of every colourful spread with objects to spot and name. As children look closely at the pictures to find the objects, they will soon find their attention drawn to everything else on the page, stimulating them to question. Each spread is set in a different natural environment and is full of wildlife - there's summer in the meadow, autumn in the forest, a snowy winter walk, spring in the forest and many more. There's so much to recognise in each landscape in this beautiful interactive book for toddlers, yet the pictures remain clear and uncluttered, making things easy to find. The illustrations are glorious - a real celebration of the beauty of our countryside.

Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside by Fiona Bird

This book is subtitled 'Creative ways to help children discover nature and enjoy the great outdoors' and it's packed with inspiration that will be enjoyed by families and by teachers. It can be hard to motivate children to get outside and as adults, we need to set the lead - this book provides plenty of encouragement, with ideas that will be enjoyed by the whole family. Fiona Bird is a foraging expert and her love of the natural world shines through in the book. After a very practical introductory section, there are chapters on Into the Woods; Meadows, Hedgerows, and Hills; Seashore; Water and Wetlands; and My Wild Garden and Kitchen, Each chapter talks about what will be found in the habitat, both animal and plant life, and gives a fantastic range of activities to do either on the spot or at home afterwards. It's an excellent way to encourage children to appreciate nature and there's a phenomenal amount to do, ensuring there's plenty for everyone to enjoy. Keep this by you throughout the year and make the most of the natural world.

The Den Book by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks

This wonderful book, just like the authors' previous The Stick Book and The Beach Book, gets right to the heart of what children really love to do. Children love to make their own space, and building dens is the perfect way to do it; once they have their den, their imaginations will take them into all sorts of worlds - worlds where the impossible become possible, the unbelievable, believable. Dens are universal play places which can be made almost anywhere, out of almost anything. What makes a good den? The Den Book tells you everything you need to know to inspire den-building, through informative text and masses of super photos which show children creating and enjoying their dens. Whether it's for themselves alone, for a gang of friends, for their toys, or even for imaginary creatures, builders will find inspiration. There are woodland dens, garden dens, fantasy dens - all sorts of dens. This book includes tips on how to build, waterproof and furnish a den and lots of fun ideas for activities to do in and around dens. There is specific advice on building different dens, including garden dens, junk dens, sleep out and party dens, fairy forts and monster dens as well as treehouses and tepees. The book would be a great asset to forest schools. A fantastic book which will inspire children to get outside and enjoy the wonderful world around us.

Little Collectors: Nature Art: Make art from nature by Jenny Bowers

Nature is all around us, and whatever the time of year, there is always plenty to see and to collect. If your child has ever come home with a collection of natural objects, and you have wondered what to do with them all, now you have the answer. This box is a one-stop guide to finding, observing, collecting and exhibiting children's discoveries, from flowers and blossoms to to pebbles and plants. As they discover and create their own collections, they will be amazed at the wonder of life around you; it;s a super way to encourage them to appreciate the beauty of nature. The box contains two fold-up frames to display children's collections; a fold-out poster that they can draw onto or stick things to; an envelope to take then they go collecting plus a book full of ideas and tips on collecting and displaying. Unusual and very effective.

A Journey Through Nature by Steve Parker

This book takes the young reader on an engrossing journey right round the world, visiting a wide range of different habitats along the way. The engaging presentation really draws the reader in, encouraging them to join in the journey. From the habitats that are close to us, such as rivers and seashore, the book then branches out to more exotic locations including grasslands, deserts and the tundra; under the ground and under the sea are included too. The colourful illustrations show the creatures discussed in the text, and there are others pictured too, so see if your child can spot them and then you can see if you can find out more about these creatures too. The book jacket opens out to reveal a colourful scene embracing some of the habitats viewed in the book.

Nature's Day: Out and About by Kay Maguire

Take your child on a treasure hunt, season by season, with this sequel to the excellent Nature's Day (Wide Eyed). There's no need to go far from home as this fascinating book shows the world of nature right on your doorstep. Readers will learn how to spot different leaves, birds, flowers, and insects, make a bee hotel, ice art and a daisy chain, colour in different seasonal scenes and collect treasures for your nature box. This is the perfect title to get children out and about all year round, and it will help children appreciate and look after the natural world. It's beautifully illustrated too, with delicate drawings and plenty of pictures to colour.

Make It Grow by Debbie Powell

I like the fact that this book appeals to young children (3+), helping them to understand how things grow, and then linking them to the colourful rainbow at the end. As they lift the flaps, they will see things grow in a variety of colours - can they guess what colour will be under the flap? Fun rhyming text introduces each habitat. The stylish illustrations are very effective, and the use of just two or three colours on the main pages makes the contrast with the pictures under the flaps even more striking. Each plant is a different colour, and at the back is a big lift-the-flap rainbow to reinforce the colours (the book uses US spelling).

Amazing Animal Journeys by Chris Packham

I love watching Chris Packham's nature programmes - he has a wonderful gift of bringing nature right home to us and of getting everyone involved. Most of all, we need to involve our young people and this fascinating book will amaze them with its tales of the epic journeys some animals make. Every year, billions of animals migrate from one part of our planet to another, many of them going on journeys of almost unbelievable complexity. Chris talks directly to his audience as he introduces creatures from around the world and follows them on their journeys, long or short. There are the butterflies who use their antennae like a compass to guide them from Canada to Mexico and crabs who need people to help them cross the road safely. These and many more will encourage children to find out more, and they can pore over the migration map and uncover extra information in the Find Out More section. The book is beautifully illustrated by Jason Cockcroft. Full of fascinating facts, this is a super book and one that will enthrall and amaze children.

RSPB Wildlife in Your Garden by Mike Dilger

I think children will be amazed at the variety of wildlife we can find in our gardens - and as schools become more aware of using outside space and caring for nature, this applies to school grounds too. Children will learn about garden birds, animals, plants and creepy-crawlies, with informative text and excellent colour photography - many of the creatures shown in this book were unfamiliar to me and I will certainly be looking out for them now. The book includes handy tips on where and when to spot the wildlife that visits your garden, as well as plenty of tips on encouraging wildlife - something we should all be doing. It is divided into the various habitats around the garden, so the reader knows just where to spot each species. It's engagingly written and presented and a lovely way to encourage children to take an interest.

Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias

This book wasn't what I expected from a nature book but it definitely has its own unique appeal. What it shows, and this is what we all need to be aware of, is that nature surrounds us - clouds and stars, trees and flowers, rocks and beaches, birds, reptiles and mammals. Created in collaboration with a team of Portuguese experts, this stylish book with its use of two colour illustrations, won the coveted Bologna Regazzi award. It aims to arouse children's curiosity about the natural world and includes suggestions for activities and many illustrations to help the whole family get started, leave the house, and go out to discover the amazing world that exists outdoors. It's packed with information and ideas to encourage a real interest in the natural world.

A Little Guide to Gardening by Dr Jo Elworthy

This book is a real treat! It shows that a garden can be anywhere - in pots, on a balcony, an allotment or a garden at home or school. It's a beautifully illustrated book, with delicate and colourful pictures showing the plants and the activities - and best of all, people enjoying their gardens and the produce. It's packed full of information and covers everything children need to know to get started with gardening, all inspiringly presented so they feel really motivated. There are simple gardening tips, planting and growing instructions, interesting snippets of information plus plenty of recipes to use that home-grown produce;. It's all beautifully presented and really encourages children to give gardening a go; it's a lovely book to browse through too, and just enjoy those lovely drawings.

Beasties in my Backyard by Camilla de le Bédoyère

We don't need to go far to see amazing creatures, as this book shows. There are all kinds of bugs lurking right in your garden, so come on an incredible journey to see just what is hiding there. Stunning images from scanning electron microscopes are used throughout the book to give us phenomenal pictures of incredible minibeasts, revealing every hair on the back of a flea, the beautiful scales on a moth's wing, and the amazing compound eye of a fly. Every page has a black background and this is amazingly effective, showing off the detail to perfection. The informative text includes fact files so creatures can be compared. Discover what a fly likes to eat and how it digests its food; how a pond skater can skim across the surface of water and how a colony of ants communicates. Prepare to be amazed!

Gardening for Beginners by Abigail Wheatley

As a very keen gardener myself, I am passionate about encouraging children to spend time in the garden and share the joy of seeing plants grow and enjoy eating produce they have grown themselves. This book helps children to discover how plants grow and teaches them the all-important facts about where our food comes from. It goes right back to basics with detailed step-by-step descriptions of all the basic principles, with plenty of hints, tips and ideas; clear diagrams enhance the text. You don't even need a garden as there are lots of ways to grow plants in pots inside, on windowsills or balconies, as the projects in this book show. I was pleased to see a page on bee-friendly flowers too. A lovely book which would make a great gift - perhaps along with some seeds and a few plant pots.

50 Things: Night-Time Adventure Notebook from The National Trust

The National Trust are really building on the success of their 50 Things to do Before You're 11 3/4 series, and that's wonderful to see. It's fantastic that such a high-profile organisation is putting its influence behind encouraging children to get outside enjoying nature and it is really having an impact. When the sun goes down, it's time get out there with these outdoor challenges; there are so many wonderful things to see and do at night and this book shows how easy it is to enjoy them and marvel at nature at the same time. Here are just some of the ideas for children and adults (great for family bonding) to share - stargazing, bat-watching, hunting for glow worms, tell the time with the moon, send secret messages with Morse code, make snowball lanterns and tell stories round a campfire. When you've finished, write up your adventures in this notebook. and treasure it as a record of exciting nights spent appreciating the wonders that lie around us.

Hare by Zoe Greaves

This delicate and beautiful book celebrates the natural history and mythology of the hare. Hares are creatures of mystery and this delightful book keeps that mystery alive. The use of an attractive font and delicate illustrations that show off nature make for a lovely book, ideal as a gift - the cloth binding and silver embossed hare on the cover give us a lovely book. There are story pages and factual information to help us understand this elegant creature.

Apple Pigs by Ruth Orbach

This beautifully illustrated tale of an apple tree that grows too many apples is delightfully told in rhyme; this is a reissue of a much-loved story. When a girl finds a withered apple tree surrounded by rubbish, she clears the rubbish to help the poor tree grow. In Spring, the tree bursts into blossom and produces a glut of apples and they just keep on coming and the family just can't cope with them all. The answer? An apple feast! A lovely celebration of the bounty of nature; a story which makes us appreciate how generous nature is. The coloured line drawings are charming - apples, apples everywhere! The story celebrates apples and Apple Day and has been produced by the National Trust. Make sure you celebrate this wonderful fruit!

Pond Explorer: Nature Sticker & Activity Book by Alice Lickens

Pond dipping is great fun, and is an activity that can be enjoyed by all children, town or country dweller. Now it's even more fun and more educational with this interactive guide from the National Trust. This guide is packed with engaging activities and fascinating facts. Children will learn how to tell frogs from toads, identify minibeasts, match the duckling to the duck and much more. The simple presentation makes the book perfect for 3 to 6 year olds and it makes an excellent way to engage them with nature on a level which they can understand and relate to. Parents and children can enjoy together activities such as how to make 'frogspawn tea' with tapioca pearls and how to make an underwater viewer to look at aquatic pond creatures. There are over 80 stickers to use to decorate the pages and increase knowledge about pond life. A really good book which I highly recommend.

The Butterfly Garden by Laura Weston

The dramatic life cycle of the monarch butterfly comes to life in this lift-the-flap book illustrated with prints by Laura Weston. Told in simple language with black-and-white illustrations, the flaps reveal bright flashes of colour. Follow the monarch butterfly as it changes from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly; then goes on an incredible journey as it migrates for winter and the cycle starts again... Simply but stylishly presented, this is ideal to introduce young ones to life-cycles with the added fun of flaps to explore.

Birdsong by Madeleine Floyd

A real treat for all bird lovers and a book to cherish. It includes detailed descriptions of the wonderful songs and sounds of our birds as well as descriptions of their behaviour and characteristics. With around 50 exquisite drawings of birds, plus drawings of their eggs, this detailed book is a real treasure. Each drawing occupies a full page and is accompanied by the appropriate sound; they are delicate but very detailed and really capture the essence of each bird.

At the Seaside (My Nature Sticker Activity Book) by Olivia Cosneau

This delightful nature sticker and activity book on the seaside provides hours of fun for children of 5+; either use it as a companion to a seaside holiday, or help land-bound children learn more about our coasts. The beautiful illustrations include familiar and less-common creatures - crabs, jellyfish, starfish and gulls, as well as plants. Habitats are covered too - children will learn about fragile sand dunes. They can colour in the creatures and their homes, apply stickers of their food and where they live, and learn about how they bring up their young and what they eat. And at the end, there's a fun quiz to test their knowledge, with a question for each page.

50 Things to Do Before You're 11 3/4: My Adventure Notebook from The National Trust

The National Trust's Things to do before you're 11 3/4 is a fantastic initiative and it's great to see that it is so heavily promoted at their properties, making visiting them far more family-friendly than ever before. This book is packed with practical ideas for activities everyone can enjoy wherever they live (and without spending lots of money). The challenges range from taking children into the woods and onto the water, up big hills and down to the beach. And once children have enjoyed the activity, they can record their achievement in the book by drawing pictures and including when it was done (I'd like to see 'where' included too) for a lasting record. There are top tips to help children develop their nature skills and each activity has a mini objective to help engage them with nature. There's also a '10 Best Things to Do' as voted by children across the country. A super book and one that will make a great lasting record.

The Beach Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield

I am a huge fan of The Stick Book and The Wild Weather Book, so I was thrilled to see another book packed with engaging activities to make the most of the wonders of the outdoor world; this time, every child's favourite, the beach (and if you can't get to the beach, try the activities by river or lake). Whatever your interest, this book will persuade you to get down to the water. Discover beach wildlife; explore the sands and shore; try foraging, damming and diverting streams; look for natural resources to play with and invent new games; be creative with the things you find. This wonderful book really encourages the reader to take a different look at things they may otherwise pass by, and that is part of its genius - you see things with a fresh eye. The inspiring ideas are easy to follow and the excellent colour photos really bring the projects to life. Put a copy of this book into your beach bag and there will never be a dull moment - and you can use the money you save to buy that ice cream! I'm off to the beach - luckily, I live by the sea!

The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math(s), Science, Literacy, and Art by Cathy James

I am passionate about encouraging children to spend time outside and learn about the beautiful world that surrounds us - and the health benefits are inestimable too. Our gardens offer children a rich, sensory playground, full of interesting things to discover and learn about and, as the book title says, these can develop key academic skills too; science is happening all around; literacy skills are developed by talking and writing about what we see; and maths activities can be found everywhere. Packed with inspiring activities which will work well both in the school and home garden, I was really impressed with the range of imaginative ideas. The book concludes with a Garden Journal for children to complete so they have a record of their activities - why not build on this and make a garden scrapbook with photos, drawings and pressed flowers and leaves? An excellent book.

Wildlife Jack: I Want to Fly (Wildlife Jack & His Adventures) by Ed Kellie

A new children's series called WILDLIFE JACK AND HIS ANIMAL ADVENTURES launched on the Disney channel in 2014 - narrated by wildlife expert Chris Packham. Jack is an animated character who has a special ability - he can talk to animals and learn about their world. Jack love for nature is stimulated by his explorer Grandpa who has given him a very special book, full of pictures and cuttings from his adventures. In this adventure, Jack learns about the way birds fly. With simple language and big, bold informative pictures, this is ideal to encourage 2 to 6 year olds to learn about and enjoy the natural world.

The Little Book of Garden Bird Songs (Sound Book) by Andrea Pinnington and Caz Buckingham

This is a book which will appeal to all ages - especially if, like me, you love to hear the birds singing but struggle to know the blue tit song from the great tit. It's not easy, but here is a simple way to learn about the songs of 12 well-known European garden birds. There's an easy to use sound bar, illustrated by bird pictures; the quality of the recordings is exceptional. To accompany this, you will find there is a general introduction to each bird that highlights its key characteristics and is accompanied by an informative data profile. There's also a Did You Know fact for each bird. The colourful board pages feature good-sized bird pictures as well as being attractively decorated. This lovely book would make a super gift for a family - I shall be keeping my copy on the windowsill next to the binoculars so I can readily spot the birds and link the bird to its song. Bird song is such a lovely part of life and even better with this wonderful book. Another winner from Fine Feather Press.

Nature Detective: British Trees by Victoria Munson

This compact guide is excellent to take out and about with you. With more than 50 of the most common trees found in Britain today, it includes full descriptions of the trees, along with their scientific name, size, family and habitat. With this book, you will ensure you can recognise which tree is which and the large colour photographs of the trees, their leaves, seeds and fruits, will help with easy identification. It includes information about broadleaved trees and conifers, explains the difference between deciduous trees and evergreens, and looks at how the parts of trees, from the leaves and bark to seeds and berries, can help you to recognise each tree. There's also a step-by-step activity to help you create your own tree guide - an interesting addition.

Let's Look for Minibeasts: A Natural History Activity Book by Andrea Pinnington and Caz Buckingham

Minibeasts are all around us so it's not hard to spot the creatures included in this colourful book. Children are fascinated by minibeasts - maybe it is the small size that they relate to so well. They provide an excellent introduction to the natural world and this delightful nature book is the perfect introduction to this fascinating world. Perfect for getting children outside and giving them something fun to do, they can spot the creatures, mark them off in the book and enjoy using the superb photographic stickers on the colourful scene - this will reinforce their memory. There are 45 different creatures to find - some hard, some easy, along with some amazing facts and simple information. Young children will study minibeasts at school too, so this is an excellent way to stimulate their learning.

Let's Look for Trees: A Natural History Activity Book by Andrea Pinnington and Caz Buckingham

Trees are everywhere, so get outside with your copy of this book and see how many you can identify with the aid of the pictures of leaves, flowers and fruits in this book. You can keep the book as a record, and enjoy making a beautiful woodland scene with the photographic stickers. As well, there are facts about fascinating forest dwellers, a life cycle diagram and an account of a year in a tree's life. The production makes these books remarkable - superb photography, attractive backgrounds and durable card pages make the books a delight. Fine Feather Press have a wonderful catalogue of nature books to encourage us all, young and old, to get outside and appreciate the wonderful world all around us. The range is beautifully produced, with exceptional photography, and is a super incentive to get out and about. All these things can be spotted wherever we live - city, town, seaside or country, it's all there to be enjoyed.

Wild Adventures by Brita Granström and Mick Manning

Sadly, so much of the outdoor fun that children used to have is a thing of the past - but this exciting book shows that doesn't need to be the case. As long as children and adults follow simple safety guidelines - and this book includes practical advice - there's a world of fun out there, ready to be enjoyed. Many of the activities in this book have been enjoyed by the authors and their family, so you can be sure they are both safe and enjoyable. The book is full of inspiring ideas, all presented in a lively and engaging manner with plenty of facts about nature to learn and enjoy - and to help children appreciate the wonders of the natural world. There are some unusual ideas too - how about chocolate orange cakes, baked on the camp-fire? Wherever you live, there is something for everyone in this excellent book, so what are you waiting for? Get out and get exploring!

Show Me How: Nature Project by Steve Parker

Subtitled Fun-to-do Projects for Kids Shown Step by Step, this book does just what it says. The range of projects is wide, with something for everyone - from a wild flower window box to a butterfly garden. Each of the projects will help children appreciate the natural world around us, and as their appreciation grows, so will their care and concern for the natural world. The book starts with some excellent practical advice on caring for our environment, and then goes on to list the materials needed to carry out the projects. Parents - stock up on these, then you have ready-made entertainment for those 'I'm bored' moments. Each project is simply explained step-by-step, with accompanying photos which help understanding. A really super book which would also be valuable in the classroom. For a hardback book, this is exceptional value.

Sticker Play Scenes: Garden Birds by Andrea Pinnington

Children love stickers so what a great way to introduce them to the natural world around them and encourage them to take a real interest. Inside this on-the-go activity pack, there are over 35 reusable photographic stickers which can be used to decorate the enchanting open-out garden play scene. There is also a handy guide to the names of our best-loved British birds. While children are out spotting birds, they will also be able to spot some of the creatures featured in the accompanying Sticker Play Scenes: Garden Wildlife and then put the stickers on the play scene. Fine Feather Press was founded by Caz Buckingham and Andrea Pinnington. All the titles are designed to inspire a love of nature in children from an early age.

Sticker Play Scenes: Woods & Forests Andrea Pinnington

This pack includes 35+ stickers (on two sheets) plus fold-out forest scene to put them on. You could use these packs as I-spy games - once the creature, plant or bird has been spotted, place it on the scene - taking care to put it in an appropriate place! This will develop children's observational skills and help them remember. There is also a simple guide that names the most common woodland animals, plants and fungi All the sticker play scenes are suitable for children of 3+. Woods and forest are also home to Wild Flowers so this sticker play scene with its meadow scene will be good to use alongside each other.

Sticker Play Scenes: Ponds & Rivers by Andrea Pinnington

Pond dipping is a great family activity, so why not take this along with you - or better still, complete it at home afterwards so it doesn't get wet! The fold-out watery scene (with reusable stickers) has a simple ID guide giving the names of the featured animals and plants. The seaside is a popular place and this Sticker Play Scenes: Seashore will encourage children to look out for the natural beauties which are all around us.

Sticker Play Scenes: Farm by Andrea Pinnington

Many children will visit farms whether in the country or in city farms. This colourful sticker pack will be the perfect accompaniment, helping children identify the creatures they will meet on the farm. Butterflies are beautiful creatures and they are seen to full advantage with the excellent quality pictures - a striking feature of all these sticker scenes is the amazing detail which is found on each sticker. The final review of this wonderful set of stickers with a difference is for Sticker Play Scenes: Butterflies

Deadly Detectives: Top Tips to Track Wildlife by Steve Backshall

Everything you need to know about the origins of tracking, and in sufficient detail to interest adults as well as children. Learn what you need to become a tracker and how to do it, wherever you are. It's full of Steve's own adventures, both in this country and around the world - from tropical rainforests to the African Savanna, from the Arctic tundra to the desert. The principles are the same, whether in exotic locations or close to home. It's illustrated throughout with superb colour photos and diagrams and the case studies make for particularly interesting reading. This book is excellent even for children who don't intend to go out wildlife tracking, with its fascinating information and chatty writing style - and who knows? Maybe it will inspire children to get outside and engage with nature - I do hope so.

The Wild City Book: Fun Things to do Outdoors in Towns and Cities by Jo Schofield

Living in the city is not an excuse for children missing out on outdoor activities, as this inspiring book shows. Towns and cities offer many exciting activities – hunting for wildlife clues, watching wild creatures, making wild art, playing wild games, having exciting outdoor adventures. You will be amazed at just how much can be found if you look. The book is divided into sections which include imaginative play, storytelling and music, and games and trails. My favourite section is wild creations which is full of creative ideas. Illustrated throughout with colour photos, this book will provide hours - days, even - of enjoyable activities which will bring children closer to nature. A brilliant book for home and school full of unusual ideas which are accessible for everyone. What are you waiting for?

RSPB 365 Outdoor Activities You Have to Try by Jamie Ambrose

We all need to encourage children to get outdoors and enjoy all that nature has to offer - but sometimes we can do with some extra inspiration and encouragement. That is exactly what this exciting book offers us - an activity for every day of the year. There are ideas suitable for a wide range of ages, and activities that take just minutes or which will keep the whole family entertained for many hours. The projects need only basic materials and even the least practical reader will find the illustrated step-by-step instructions are easy to follow. There are ideas to appeal to everyone - how about glow skittles, making a waterfall wall or creating a fake fossil? There are so many novel ideas here and the book will also be a huge asset in the classroom for teachers looking for outdoor activities - whichever they do, children will be learning and appreciating nature. Produced in association with the RSPB, Europe's leading wildlife charity.

A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies

 A gentle poetic exploration through the changing seasons, this is a book which will make those of all ages stop and think about the beauty of the world around us, in even the simplest of things. The text and illustrations work wonderfully together, as the pictures frame the text whilst really reflecting the meaning. There are activities too, which encourage interaction with the world around us. It's a book to cherish and share, one to keep and reflect upon and to pick up and read when the pressures of life get a bit much. It's a lovely way to encourage children to enjoy the world around them and to make them take note and care for that world.

Let's Look: In Ponds & Rivers by Andrea Pinnington

The majority of people will have a pond or river close to home, so take your child out to explore and then come home and recreate the scenes using the stickers. The plants and animals are split into easy to spot and harder to spot and children can tick them off once they spot them. As with all the Fine Feather Press books, it is the quality of the illustrations which is outstanding - they are both accurate and very attractive. At the end of the book is a page on the life cycle of the frog and one on waterbirds. This, and the three books below, are new titles from the excellent Fine Feather Press - scroll down this page to see more of their books and then get out and about with your child enjoying the wonders of nature. An excellent series, highly recommended.

Let's Look: On the Seashore by Andrea Pinnington

The ideal accompaniment to a day or holiday at the seaside. The book starts with pictures of things to be found on the seashore to whet the appetite and the things to find are graded in order of difficulty. the 'What can you find?' page encourages children to use all their senses while exploring the beach - an interesting idea and one that gives lots of ideas for further exploration. There is also a page on seashells. Looking for the appropriate sticker will reinforce learning and help children to remember while having fun; there is a double page fold-out at the end of each book for children to create their own scenes. The stickers are well sized and not too fiddly, so they come off well without tearing. Each of these books is produced on good quality card, making them practical and durable so once your child has explored the habitat and stuck in the stickers, the book will remain as a perfect memento and reference aid.

Let's Look: On the Farm by Andrea Pinnington

You don't need to live in the country to visit a farm - there are lots of city farms, so take this book on your next visit. Before you set out, stimulate your child's interest with the 'Amazing Facts' which are a feature of each book. There is an introduction to the farm plus animals and their babies and animal sounds to recognise and imitate. Then the lovely stickers can be used to create the child's own farmyard scene. An excellent way to stimulate interest in the world around us.

Let's Look: In Woods & Forests by Andrea Pinnington

If you go down to the woods today... make sure you have a copy of this book with you so your child can explore all the wonderful things which make up our woodlands. The quality of Fine Feather Press publications has been recognised - they have been shortlisted for the IPG’s Nick Robinson Newcomer Award. The judges said: ‘Fine Feather Press makes the shortlist after establishing itself in its specialism of children’s natural history within a year of launching. “The books are beautifully produced with a great sense of nostalgia. Fine Feather has very quickly identified and hit the right sales channels.”’

My First Book of Baby Animals by Mike Unwin

When I saw the title, I thought 'another book of cute baby animals' - but this book is far more than that. On one side of the page is a picture of animals - or just part of one - plus a question to get children thinking. Turn over and they find the answer plus plenty of interesting facts. Perfect for KS1 children this is a good book to stimulate interest in the natural world and to help children learn more about the 20 animals included. Attractively laid out, the text is clear and accessible and the pictures, which include the habitat, are very attractive.

First Animal Encyclopedia by Anita Ganeri

The perfect book to introduce young children to the amazing world of animals. Pre-readers will enjoy the lovely photos and sharing the book with an adult and once children can read for themselves, the clear layout and differentiated text sizes and styles offer good opportunities to develop reading skills. From the biggest to the smallest, children will learn about animals and be amazed by the Awesome! fact boxes. The comprehensive glossary and index will help develop reference skills.

First Animal Encyclopedia Seas and Oceans by Anna Claybourne

Another book which focuses on encouraging children to question and explore the world around them. The perfect pairing to the book above, this concentrates on the living creatures to be found in our oceans. It makes excellent use of colourful photographs which explain and expand on the topics. As well as the creatures, children will learn about a variety of habitats including mangrove forests, coastlines and the major oceans.

Animal Atlas by Anna Claybourne

Travel the world and discover the rich variety of animal life. Detailed text gives plenty of information and there are lots of creatures included. An additional value of this book is that it capitalises on children's interest in animals and uses this to help them discover the geography of the world. Often, children know lots about the animals but not where they come from, so this atlas helps them put the animals into context. It is split by continent and there is geographical information which gives useful background; the colourful backgrounds to the pictures show the area.

123 Nature Activity Cards by Andrea Pinnington

I reviewed some products from Fine Feather Press before and raved about them, so I was delighted to see that they have just brought out two more products to interest pre-schoolers in our natural world. Numbers 1 to 20 are included in these fold-over, generously sized cards. On the front is the number with a delicate illustration from nature framed in pretty border. Inside each card there are colour illustrations with puzzles and questions to discuss with your child, then the number is repeated on the back. There are so many ways to use these cards - obviously, to learn numbers but also to learn about nature through observation - take the '2' card out for example, and spot the birds. Each activity is different and all provide ways to encourage children to take an interest in nature. The cards are beautifully produced and a joy to use.

ABC Wall Frieze by Andrea Pinnington

A beautifully created frieze, full of delicate drawings (with lots of detail to spot) and excellent photos, all on good quality card. I would love to see this used in the Reception classroom, not simply as a wall frieze on its own (although it is great for that) but to be part of a nature table display so the children could be encouraged to bring in relevant objects, pictures etc. It would be a lovely way to get them involved and to help them appreciate the beauties of nature. Everything on the frieze can easily be seen in the world around (or above) us so it's really relevant to children. Perfect for a child's bedroom wall too and again children could be encouraged to create relevant collections - as there are seven sections, if space is limited, collect for four letters at a time. A most attractive way to learn the alphabet.

My First Nature Activity Book ed by Susan Akass

This is another excellent title from CicoKidz which will encourage children to get out and about. There are 35 projects and games, suitable for children of 7+ - or parents of younger children may well want to share the activities with them. Each project has clear step-by-step instructions with diagrams showing every step and the book is really attractively laid out in a way that will encourage children to give things a go. My favourite? I think the 'rain boot bulbs' - turn your outgrown wellies (which are often really decorative) into great planters. The super colour photos are a great way to inspire kids and show them just what great results they can achieve

ABC Nature Activity Cards by Andrea Pinnington and Caz Buckingham

There are books which really excite and enthuse me and the books and cards from Fine Feather Press definitely come into that category. This set of cards surprised me as I was expecting just the normal double sided card - but these open out to show an array of associated photos, plus a question or activity on each to engage children with the world around us. There are all sorts of questions/activities and this is a hugely stimulating pack. Beautifully decorated, fantastic photos, stimulating things to do - and a surprise at Z! So many uses, from learning the alphabet, making a display, encouraging a love of nature... Just brilliant.

Let's Look For Garden Birds by Andrea Pinnington

Children always enjoy 'I Spy' type books and they do offer a great incentive for children to get out and observe the world around them. Having said that, the quality of the illustrations far exceeds what you would expect of an 'I Spy' book and these are definitely books to keep for reference, even if you are lucky enough to have spotted everything. How to look for birds, feeding and bird song are included. There are 30 stickers and a fold-out play scene for them. From the Fine Feather Press website: "The aim of all their titles is to encourage children to understand and enjoy nature. All the photographs that appear in their books have been taken by them. When not in front of their computers, they can be found, cameras in hand, scouring the countryside for interesting things to add to their database."

Let's Look For Butterflies by Andrea Pinnington

These books have sturdy card pages that mean they can be used repeatedly and still retain their glossy attractive appearance - Caz Buckingham's designs and illustrations are exceptional. 30 common butterflies are featured with stickers for each and a meadow scene to complete. Information includes parts of a butterfly, facts, food and life cycle. Also available Let's Look For Wild Flowers and Let's Look For Garden Wildlife - together, the series makes an excellent way to encourage children to get outside and enjoy wildlife.

Get Out Nature Puzzles & Games by Caz Buckingham and Andrea Pinnington

Like the other books by Fine Feather Press, this book is a delight with its charming design. It's packed with nature activities that will encourage families to get out and about enjoying the world around us. It's a combination of spotter's guide and activity book which takes the reader through the seasons, spotting wildlife and enjoying a rich variety of activities including puzzles, drawing, colouring and writing about nature. The approach is very original and I love the friendly approach of the text. There's a nature wall chart as well. An excellent way to engender a love of nature and thoroughly enjoyable.

Farm Babies Sticker Book RSPCA

Have you got a child who loves animals? Then they will love this book which has lots of cute baby animal stickers. Where this book really stands out is in the quality of the backgrounds - it's far better that the average sticker book and far more like a good quality picture book that just happens to come with stickers.  There's lots of information about baby animals on the farm and plenty of puzzles to enjoy. Best of all - buying this book helps the RSPCA save animal's lives, so go and get a copy.

Grow Organic, Eat Organic (Creative Activities) by Susan Martineau

Organic - a word we hear a lot but what does it mean? Help children understand the concept through hands-on activities as they learn how to grow plants organically. From growing to cooking, this colourful book is full of advice for children. They don't need a garden - there are lots of ideas for pots and window-boxes too. So many schools are now offering children the opportunity to grow things, so this book makes an excellent classroom resource too. The book helps children understand how important it is that we take care of our environment - including worms! The diagrams are an excellent aid to understanding the practical processes and I like the way children are offered recipes to use the food they grow.

Mr Bloom's Nursery: Playtime with the Veggies Sticker Book

Dress dolly with a difference! In this book, it's the veggies who get dressed up. There are over a hundred stickers to decorate the Veggies who live in Mr Bloom's nursery. Children can get them dressed ready to set off on exciting adventures - as pirates, as princesses, as spacemen and many more. And along the way, children will learn lots about vegetables and what they need to grow. It's fun and colourful.

Colour and Learn Animals Colouring & Fact Book from Brainbox

More than just a colouring book, this is full of interesting facts for children to find out about the animal kingdom. There is plenty of detail in the pictures and children can really produce something they can be proud of. The pictures are printed single sided on good quality paper, so your child can tear the pages out along the perforations and display their artwork. A great classroom resource too, with the perforations so the pictures can be photocopied for future use. There are lots more titles on the Green Board Games website.