Conflicted about spending time outdoors, or reading a good book? Why not both?
Columnist Terri Schlichenmeyer ("The Bookworm Sez") takes a look at some good summertime reading fare for kids.
You've waited all year for this.
You sat inside, looking out a window, thinking about all you were going to do when summer came. Well, it's here and now's the time to grab these great books and head outside...
If a beach is in your summertime plans, then "Ocean Soup" by Meeg Pincus, illustrated by Lucy Semple (Sleeping Bear Press) is the book you want before you go. Here, you'll learn what you can do to keep the ocean clean and why it's important. This is a great read-aloud for little kids, and for ecology-minded 5-to-7-year-old doers.
Young bird-watchers will love owning "Birds" by Miranda Krestovnikoff and Angela Harding (Bloomsbury). Loaded with artwork, this book teaches kids unique things about birds, their food, and their habitat, "extremes," dangerous birds, exotics, and more. Meant for birders ages 6-11, it might challenge those on the lower end of that scale.
Another unusual book on wildlife is "Do You Know Where the Animals Live" by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Kids). It's full of questions that kids might ask, and answers that'll fill them in on animals, birds, wildlife habitat, biology, animal language, and even some make-a-kid-think entries. Six-to-9-year-olds will absolutely enjoy it.
Happy campers will want to take "Wild Outside: Around the World with Survivorman" by Les Stroud, illustrations by Andrew P. Barr (Annick Press) on walkabout. It's a true-life adventure book about the wilderness, including "four steps to every great adventure," ways to be prepared before you go and while you're outdoors, lessons on how to stay safe, and lots of gorgeous pictures. It's perfect for the outdoorsy-type kid ages 8-12.
For the quieter kid, or perhaps for an Earth-minded child who may need to stay indoors for part of the summer, check out "The Wild World Handbook" by Andrea Debbink, illustrated by Asia Orlando (Quirk Books), With more facts, less adventure, this book offers ecology-based biographies, activities to do indoors, fun-facts, places to visit, and information about our world. Out May 25, this is a great book for kids ages 7-to-12.
For kids who are fascinated with big cats, there are two books to explore: "Cougar Crossing" by Meeg Pincus, illustrated by Alexander Vidal (Beach Lane Books) is the story of P-22, a cougar that was born in a national park near Los Angeles. When he needed more room to roam, he headed into the city, but that was dangerous; by then, though, people had spotted the cat and decided to help. This is a good book for kids ages 7-9 but beware of the not-entirely-happy ending.
And finally, for readers ages 13-and-up, "The Black Leopard" by Will Burrard-Lucas (Chronicle Books) offers the story of a hunt that never included much more than a camera, supreme patience, and one man's wildest dreams. Give the book to your wildlife-loving teen, and borrow it back.
If these books don't quite fit your child's interest or activity level, check with your bookseller or librarian for more. Let your child go a little wild; they've been waiting for this all year!
T erri Schlichenmeyer is the author of the Detroit Lakes Tribune book review column, “The Bookworm Sez.” She has been reading since she was three years old, and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,000 books.