Children’s Books to Inspire Collecting & Playing with Natural Materials

Children’s Books to Inspire Collecting & Playing with Natural Materials

Compiled by April Zajko, M.Ed.


No book list is ever complete but here is a start. I’d love to hear about books that you like to read aloud to children to inspire nature play!



Collections by Margaret Ballinger and Rachel Gosset

Hannah’s Collections by Marthe Jocelyn

Look What I Found! By Deborah Schecter (Level A Reader)

Small Treasures by Akimi Gibson

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert (collection of good snowman making things)

When This Box is Full by Patricia Lillie



A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by LeUyen Pham

Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails by Betsy Franco & Steve Jenkins

Discovering Nature’s Alphabet by Krystina Castella and Brian Boyl

No One But You by Douglas Wood

One Little Balsam Fir: A Northwoods Counting Book by Lesley A. DuTemple

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II



A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston

Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor

If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet

If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian

Let’s Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans

Stone Soup by Jess Stockham

Rocks, Fossils, & Arrowheads (Take Along Guides) by Laura Evert

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran


Sticks, & Bark:

The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld

Trees, Leaves, & Bark (Take Along Guides) by Diane Burns



When Clay Sings by Byrd Baylor

Clay Boy by Mirra Ginsburg




Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber

Leaf Man – Lois Ehlert

Leaves by Violet Findley

Leaves on the Trees by Thom Wiley

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! By M & G. Berger

Look What I Did with a Leaf! By Morteza E. Sohi

Make a Leaf Rubbing by M. Ballinger,Gosset

The Leaves are Falling One by One by Metzger

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by S. Metzger

When the Leaf Blew In by Steve Metzger

Why Do Leaves Change Color? By Betsy Maestro


Acorns & Squirrels

Acorns Everywhere! by Kevin Sherry

Busy Squirrels by Melvin and Gilda Berger

Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane by Victoria Sherrow

Earl the Squirrel by Dan Freeman

Just One! by Sam McBratney

Nuts to You! by Lois Ehlert

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

Squirrels by Brian Wildsmith

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (board book)

The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose

Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin



Evergreens are Green by Susan Canizares

The Pinecone Walk by Barbara Springfield

Night Tree by Eve Bunting


Sand suggestions?


Tree Study

A Tree Can Be…. By J. Nayer

A Tree for All Seasons by R. Bernard

Acorn to Oak Tree by Camilla de la Bedoyere

Are Trees Alive? By Debbie Miller

Be a Friend to Trees by P. Lauber

Evergreens are Green by Susan Canizeres

Eyewitness Books: Trees by David Burnie

FANDEX Family Field Guides: TREES by Steven M.L. Aronson

Look at a Tree by E. Curran

Look at the is Tree by Susan Canizeres

Now I Know: Trees by Sharon Gordon

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf –  Lois Ehlert

Redwoods by Jason Chin

The Tallest Tree by Robert Lieber (board book)

The Tree by Brian and Jillian Cutting

Treats from a Tree by Susan Canizeres

Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids by Gail Gibbons

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! By N. Wallace (all 4 seasons)

Trees: A Poem by Harry Behn

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Who Will Plant a Tree? By Jerry Pallotta

Who Lives in a Tree? By Susan Canizares

Trees by B. Lessor


What Lives in a Shell? By Kathleen Weidner Zoehfelf

Seashells, Crabs, and Sea Stars (Take Along Guide) by C.K.Tibbitts

Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes

Books to Inspire the Grown Ups:

Beautiful Stuff! Learning with Found Materials by Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini

The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do with a Stick by Jo Schofield & Fiona Dank

Nature’s Playground by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield

Play the Forest School Way: Woodland Games by Peter Houghton & Jane Worroll

Messy Maths by Juliet Robertson

Dirty Teaching by Juliet Robertson

Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind’s Relationship with Earth’s Most Primal Element by Suzanne Staubach (reference for adult readers)


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