If you are interested in nature books for children, whether a parent or educator, those offered by Dawn Publications are the way to go. They recently sent me several titles, and they represent just some of the diversity of their books, focusing on habitats, cycles of nature, ecology, climate change, earth & space, and other subjects, while all encapsulating the publisher’s motto, “A Sharing Nature with Children Book.” I read through them with Patrick (my son, age 6), and I asked what he liked about each book, and also what natural area in our city that the book reminded him of (making these books a perfect companion for a nature outing). Here is what we think:
Salamander Rain: A Lake and Pond Journal by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini (2000): Part field guide, part journal, Patrick liked the “lots of animals to learn about” in this book. He thought the book reminded him of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge ().
Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones and illustrated by Michael S. Maydak (2000): This book takes you through the life cycle of salmon with the familiar nursery rhyme “This is the House That Jack Built.” At the end, there is more detailed information about salmon, and how humans can help ensure they best possible enviroment for them. Patrick said, “I like the fish ladder.” Where to bring this book? I asked Patrick. “To that place where we saw the salmon in the river,” he said. That place is the Sandy River, at Oxbow Regional Park ().
The Web at Dragonfly Pond by Brian “Fox” Ellis and illustrated by Michael S. Maydak (2006): This is a book about food webs, as it happens at one pond to a father and son while fishing. It stresses our connection to other living things by way of who eats what, and it is connected to the characters through a mosquito. While the artwork of the plants and animals in this book is wonderful (the artist also illustrated Salmon Stream), I was less impressed with his ability to paint humans. Overall, a great way to get across that “we are all connected.” Patrick said he liked the food chain part of it, and it reminded him of Smith and Bybee Lakes ().
Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jill Dubin (2012): This book uses counting and rhyming as a way to interest a child in nature, through the popular song, “Over In the Meadow.” Also, Over in the Forest teaches about animal behavior, and includes more information in the back and descriptions of the hidden animals. Patrick liked finding all the animals, which he said made him use observation. He thought Tualatin Hills Nature Park () matched this book.
The Tree in the Ancient Forest by Carol Reed-Jones and illustrated by Christopher Canyon (1995): Also utilizing “This Is the House That Jack Built,” this book describes habitats that can be found in trees and how the organisms – plants, animals, and fungi – all need each other to survive. Patrick liked the repetition instilled in the rhyme, and it reminded him of our favorite and local forest, Tyron Creek State Park ().