my favorite outdoor activity books

the best family outdoor-activity books

I know deep in my bones the absolute value of the outdoors and nature, and I love a good hike, walks around town, and picnics on nice days. But I also know that nothing is like having a purpose to spur day-long romps outside and to turn a regular hike into a super awesome adventure.

A few years ago, I spent a late summer and early fall foraging the Rocky Mountains for medicinal plants, and I just fell in love with how every day felt like the coolest treasure hunt ever. My time outside became more than just a hike from one point to the other, and instead became a fully sensory experience: the smells, the sounds, the way that dirt and thorns and stones felt, the beauty and wildness and sunlight and raindrops…it was all so swoon-worthy and lovely. cThat experience made me realize the impact that having a purpose has on outdoor adventures. It makes time slow down and nearly disappear, and at the same time fly by. It turns a hike that might take a couple of hours into an all-day adventure, and no one gets bored. When there’s a purpose, there's a next thing to find: a hike becomes a mission with no definitive end. It’s the ultimate open-ended activity.

But what does this mean for those of us with babies still in our arms? For me, this means I have more of a reason to get outside with her, to explore, and to show her the wonders of nature that exist in the woods and meadows and on the banks of rivers off the popular trails. R is too young to understand the logistics of what we’re doing but that is irrelevant. I do it for me, for us, and in the process, she takes in the world.

So here they are: seriously amazing books you’re going to want to run out and buy right now because they are that good.

Enjoy them :)

The Backyard Forager: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

A very lovely little guide to foraging in the place where you are. You don’t have to eat what you find- if you’re not absolutely comfortable with plant identification, then just hunt and see what you find.

Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You

I adore Clare. Her whole life revolves around creating nature journals, and looking at hers is the ultimate inspiration to making your own. Another endless invitation to get and be outside.

The Organic Artist

This book is probably the coolest book that I own, and I own a lot of cool books. With this book, you never have to buy art supplies ever again if you don’t want too. But even if you do, this book has a bunch of different supplies to search for and gather out in nature to make paper, paints…the title says it all. The author even hunts for bones to make paint jars out of! Get. This. Book.

Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Signs and Scat

An animal tracking book, and while you might not on the surface be interested in it, try and think of it as a kind of treasure hunt. Looking for animal signs, squirrel’s nests, scat, owl droppings…whatever it may be, there’s never an end to what you can find. Just another excuse to tromp out in the woods, with your baby in a carrier or your toddler by your side.

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs

This is such a unique book. It will teach you how to look at a tree trunk and know which way the wind tends to blow. It will teach you how to navigate by patterns and signs in nature…I don’t know if there’s any other book like this. Tristan has put out a few other books, but I haven’t read them yet so I can’t give my personal recommendations on it. But this one here’s a gem.

Take Along Guides

There are quite a few books in this series, and I love them all. Each one covers a different topic, ranging from leaves and trees, to insects and bugs, to birds and nests. These are definitely essentials for your little one’s library.

Do you have any favorite outdoor books? Let me know what they are below :)

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