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Mar 20 2020

12 Children’s Books About Wilderness and the Outdoors

Books to keep kids busy while schools are closed

Last week, as my 3-year-old pulled on her magenta snow pants and slipped into her boots, she shouted, “Outside is fun and joyful!” Her preschool has been closed for more than a week now, and it’s unclear how long this new reality will last.

It’s easy to feel cooped up, making us all especially grateful for our miniature escapes into the outdoors – sledding, gardening, nature hikes, stream romping, leaf collecting, sidewalk chalk drawing, and the list goes on. When we return from our outdoor adventures, we like to settle in for a little quiet time with a snack and some books.

I asked Celeste to pick out her favorite books about wild places, nature, and taking care of the earth (which, she informs me, “is sick and has a fever,” a 3-year-old’s understanding of climate change). Here are her top picks from our shelf. Enjoy!

And check out our blog “14 Montana Books to Enjoy While Stuck Indoors” if you’re looking for suggestions for adults.

“I’m in Charge of Celebrations” and “Everybody Needs a Rock”

Written by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Peter Parnall

About the book: Baylor's work pairs illustrations of the Southwest with poetry highlighting connections between the land and Indigenous peoples, true works of art that will delight young and old alike.

Ages 6-9


“If You Decide to go to the Moon”

Written by Faith McNulty and illustrated by Steven Kellogg

About the book: This award-winning book may be about traveling to the moon, but it delivers an even more important message about home on Earth.

Ages 4-8 



“Happy Birthday, Moon”

Written by Frank Asch

About the book: A little bear discovers that he shares his birthday with the moon and wants to gift the moon a present. On his search, Moonbear paddles rivers and climbs mountains as he keeps up a conversation with the moon.

Ages 4-8 



“Bandit in the Bob Marshall Wilderness: A True Wilderness Adventure”

Written by Dona Love and illustrated by Laura Love

About the book: Filled with stories and facts about Wilderness, this true story tells a tale of survival when a forest fire separates a dog named Bandit from his family, leaving Bandit to find his way home through the wilderness.

Ages 3-12




“If You’re Not from the Prairie…”

Written by David Bouchard and illustrated by Henry Ripplinger

About the book: A boy provides a glimpse into prairie life and his descriptions of the prairie's wind, sun, heat, and snow seep into his identity, showcasing true love for prairie grasslands.

Ages 7-10 



“Bull Trout's Gift”

Written by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

About the book: A Salish story about the value of reciprocity.

Ages 8-12



“Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe”

Written by Vera B. Williams

About the book: Written and illustrated by a young girl, this book shares the story of Vera's family paddling down a river on a camping trip, spotting wildlife and beautiful sights along the way. 

Ages 4-8 



“All the Places to Love”

Written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Mike Wimmer

About the book: An older brother teaches his baby sister all the places he loves and hopes that she will value and love them, too. From babbling rivers, golden valleys, and the blueberry patch near their home, there are so many places to love.

Ages 4-8



“Over and Under the Snow”

Written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

About the book: As a young cross-country skier explores woodlands and meadows, this story unveils the secret world of critters living under snow-covered landscapes, and shares the magic of cold, dark nights above.

Ages 5-8





“B is for Big Sky Country: A Montana Alphabet”

Written by Sneed Collard and illustrated by Joanna Yardley

About the book: Kids will learn their ABCs and all about the Treasure State they call home.

Ages 1-3 


“Night-Night, Forest Friends”

By Annie Bach

About the book: A bedtime story for all the baby forest creatures, complete with adorable illustrations.

Ages 0-2 




“Who Pooped in the Northwoods? Scat and Track for Kids”

Written by Gary Robson and illustrated by Robert Rath

About the book: This helpful guide will teach kids how to identify animals by the tracks and scat they’ve left behind. It’ll make hikes much more interesting!

Ages 5-10 

Local bookstores offering alternatives to in-store shopping during COVID-19

We encourage you to shop local and support small businesses during this time of hardship for many independent business owners. There are many great local bookstores across the state that are open for business. Here’s a handful that we know of that are offering alternatives to in-store shopping.

Montana Book Company - pay over the phone and curbside pick-up

Shakespeare and Company - pay over the phone, curbside pick-up or home delivery
Fact and Fiction - online ordering and delivery, as well as curbside pick-up

Great Falls
Cassiopeia Books - home delivery, curbside pick-up, and shipping

Country Bookshelf - curbside pickup and free delivery in Bozeman and Livingston. Media mail shipping for $1.


This House of Books - online ordering and delivery, free local delivery to Billings addresses for any in-store products (books, toys, games, tea, etc).

Flathead area
Bookworks - taking extra sanitation precautions in-store and shortened hours to:
10 a.m-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and open noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday. 

Note: if you are a local, independent bookseller adapting your business model because of coronavirus, let us know and we’ll add you to the list. 

Kassia Randzio
Development Manager

Kassia leads MWA's grant portfolio and supports donor stewardship. She writes reports and proposals, identifies new funding sources, and helps develop strategies to generate support for our programs. She's a backpacker, canoeist, and cross-country skier, and enjoys exploring Montana's wild backcountry.
Email Kassia