Mid-August and the approach of Labor Day weekend means most of America’s kids are back to school. The national parks see a drop in visitors this time of year as families wrap up summer vacations and kids hit the books. If your young campers are finding days in a desk particularly daunting, there just might be a way to put some outdoors into their studies.
How about slipping a new national park book into your kids’ backpack this week?
Today we’re posting our favorite national park books for kids, including early readers, ages 5-7, and ages 8-12.
From the best adventure stories to the most up-to-date facts, kids love reading about the national parks. Just like adults, these protected spaces spark the imagination and wanderlust of kids of all ages.
That’s why the National Park Service is continuing with another year of “Every Kid Outdoors”. The program gives a free national park entry pass to every 4th grader and their family who register.
Whether your kid loves hiking or history, there’s a good chance we’ve got a book on this list for them. Now the only question will be: “how soon is that next day off from school?”
National Park Books for Kids: Beginning Readers
Good Night Yellowstone – Adam Gamble & Mark Jasper
Adam Gamble is the author of many of the books in the “Good Night” Series. They celebrate some of North America’s favorite places. This special Yellowstone edition includes popular tourists spots like Yellowstone Lake, Morning Glory Pool, American bison, Yellowstone River, Old Faithful, grizzly bears, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, Firehole River, park rangers, Paint Pot Trail, campers, and wolves. If you like this one, check out “Good Night, Yosemite” and “Good Night, Colorado” featuring Rocky Mountain National Park.
All Aboard! National Parks: A Wildlife Primer – Haily Meyers & Kevin Meyers
The award-winning “BabyLit” line of board books and baby reading products includes this National Park edition. Not only does it mention the parks: Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Yosemite and Olympic, it also includes animals and activities that are famous in these spaces. It’s perfect for starting your little one on a lifetime of Park Chasing!
Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure – Ilona E. Holland
Buddy Bison and his friends are off to Yellowstone National Park! The full-color photos, bright text and fun facts about the park will have your Pre-K reader packed and ready for a trip out West. In the first few pages, one of Buddy’s friends wanders off in Yellowstone. This leaves Buddy to travel through the park searching among the sites and the rangers to return his friend to safety.
Charley Harper’s I Am Wild: Animals in America’s National Parks
American artist Charley Harper began his relationship with the parks when he was commissioned to design posters for the National Park Service. His artwork in this 24-page board book highlights critter’s that live in our parks.
Related Post: The Best National Park Books To Inspire Your Next Vacation
National Park Books for Kids: Ages 5-7
Our Great Big Backyard – Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager
Former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager wrote this children’s story in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The pictures and story tell the tale of Jane, whose family embarks on a summer road trip to many of the greatest National Parks. Jane and her brother encounter some big adventures that teach them about how nature and the national parks are truly our great big backyard.
This Bridge Will Not Be Gray – Dave Eggers
One of Publisher’s Weekly ‘Best Picture Books of 2015’, this book showcases one of the most famous American Icon’s, the Golden Gate Bridge. Not everyone wanted the Golden Gate to have its historic red color. Eggers tells the history of the bridge, how it was painted red, and how it came to be a part of the National Park Service.
Who Pooped in the Park Series – Gary D. Robinson
A classic among National Park enthusiasts, the “Who Pooped in the Park?” series tells the story of animals in many of our national parks in an unusual way. Robinson’s books help kids identify large and small mammals by their tracks and scat. Kids also learn about each species and where they live in the park. Robinson’s ‘Pooped in the Park’ titles include the following national parks: Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Acadia, Glacier and Big Bend.
The Camping Trip That Changed America – Barb Rosenstock
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir went on the most famous camping trip in history. Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein captures the majestic redwoods of Yosemite in this little-known but important story from our nation’s history. While the two men saw sights like Yosemite Falls and the giant Sequoia’s, they also held discussions that would ultimately lead to the establishment of our National Parks. The pages tell the story of how these two great men set the stage to preserve our most sacred spaces.
Four Famous Faces – Jean L.S. Patrick
Prairie Dog is on a mission. He’s left his home in Badlands National Park to find the “Four Famous Faces” he’s heard of carved high into the mountains of South Dakota. Along his mission he meets several friends, including Bison, Elk and Mountain Goat on his way to Mount Rushmore National Monument. Six pages of facts about the animals, geology, and history of each location is also included. Published by Stories in Stone, a partnership of Badlands Natural History Association, Black Hills Parks & Forests Association, Devils Tower Natural History Association and Mount Rushmore Bookstores.
Related Post: The Best Summer Road Trip Books for Kids
National Park Books for Kids:
National Geographic’s Junior Ranger Activity Book
Beat the back to school blues for your older readers with this junior ranger activity book. It includes puzzles, trivia, games, jokes and fun facts about each of the 59 National Parks. Perfect for a long road trip or the car ride to practice, this book will prep your kid with everything they need to know about your next National Park adventure.
John Muir: My Life with Nature – John Muir and Joseph Cornell
Naturalist John Muir is one of the most important figures in the history of the National Parks. This adaptation from his autobiography is one of the best books on Muir for readers ages 10-16. Much of the book maintains Muir’s original text brought to a new, younger audience. Your children will love getting to know Muir and what inspired him to spend his life working to protect and preserve our national parks.
America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book – Don Compton
Remember those pop-up books we all loved checking out in the school library? This is the ultimate pop-up book for the National Parks. America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book is a coast to coast journey featuring 18 of our most visited national parks, with six as stunning, double-page pop-ups: Everglades, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite national parks. The pages also include mini-pull out books with park history and facts about the National Park Service. Best yet, all the illustrations are in the style of the original WPA-posters of the 1930’s.
National Parks: A Kid’s Guide to America’s Parks, Monuments and Landmarks – Erin McHugh
Organized alphabetically by state this national park book for ages 8-12 takes readers on a whirlwind trip to 75 locations, including Denali National Park, Hot Springs National Park, Everglades National Park, Fort McHenry, White Mountain National Forest, Ellis Island, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Zion National Park, Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, Mt. Hood National Forest, and many more. Best of all, this book contains a pull-out sleeve for collecting the 56 National Park quarters.
Ranked as a 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students: K–12 by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council, you’ll want to make sure you add this visually stunning book to your family’s collection. It’s one of the
America’s National Parks (Lonely Planet Kids)
Published in 2019, trusted travel guidebook brand Lonely Planet introduces an updated version of their Lonely Planet Kid’s guide to America’s National Parks. For each of the 60 national parks featured there are maps, things to see and things to do especially for the 12 and under traveler!
Related Post: Best National Park Books to Buy a Park Chaser
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