Show Me a Story

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

"Mommy, look! They're toasting marshmallows just like we did!" my 4-year-old daughter said, pointing to a picture in a book. "Can we do that again sometime?"

Literature is a great way to encourage youngsters to enjoy the outdoors. Since my daughter was born, I've been on the lookout for books that we can share together.

In the book we were looking through, Toasting Marshmallows - Camping Poems, author Kristine O'Connell George tells the story of a family's camping trip. Reading this book to my daughter helped us recall experiences from our week-end in the outdoors and inspired her to fill her backpack again soon after we turned the book's last page.

I wish I had found the book Sophie's Knapsack, by Catherine Stock before I took Rose on her first camping trip. I told her how we'd go hiking in the woods, cook food over a campfire, and sleep in a tent outside. Her 3-year-old mind was a twist of delighted anticipation and apprehension, but I believe she would have been even more excited if she could have seen herself as the character Sophie, a young girl having an outdoor adventure far from their city with her parents.

"As we walk, the trees come close to me."Rose and I have a special trail, tucked in the middle of our small city, where we meet in-sects, wade through leaves, and taste spider webs. One of her favorite books to extend the memory of our walks is Sarah's Questions. In it, author Harriet Ziefert has her mother and daughter characters play "I Spy" as they wander through their rural neighborhood.

"Why does a squirrel have a bushy tail? Why do bees buzz?" The mother tries to answer a stream of questions from her inquisitive toddler. If you have a budding naturalist who asks the "why" of everything, you might appreciate the eloquent answers that Sarah's mother provides.

In contrast to the talking and walking that Sarah and her mother share in the country, a father and daughter speak in hushed voices as they take The Listening Walk in the city. Author Paul Showers describes a father and daughter moving silently through the city, soaking in a variety of sounds, from noisy cars and people to the softer sounds of ducks, leaves and breezes in the park. The phonetic spelling of the sounds makes the book a natural read-aloud.

Although picture books appeal to

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