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25 Books for Your Backpack: Nature & Field Guides for Kids

May 12th – 18th is Children’s Book Week so of course I thought we should celebrate with a new booklist — a slew of great ones that encourage the kids to get outside & explore nature this summer! 

Once the kids finish school, put their backpack to good use by turning it into an adventure sack! 

Grab a set of binoculars, make your own DIY nature journal and a few of these great field guides. 

You’ll find some great reads for kids who enjoy bird-watching, scouting out wildlife, hunting for gems and exploring the forest.  I’ve included affiliate links for each of our recommended items so you can learn more about our favorites too.


outdoor guides for kids to take on their next hike


Outdoor Books & Field Guides for Kids


If you are raising a young naturalist, they will adore the Peterson Guides!  Great color illustrations and details about habitat and when to view each animal are included.  These are perfect for bird-watching, butterfly hunting and backyard nature exploration for kids ages 7 – 12!

Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists)

Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides: Young Naturalists)

Caterpillars (Peterson Field Guides: Young Naturalists)



Maybe your planninng a camping trip this summer?  Field guides for camping are a must!  Learn about campfires, knots, hikes and tons of great things to do around the campfire!  A few of our favorites include:

Kids Camp!: Activities for the Backyard or Wilderness

Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids’ Guide


Kids will enjoy this general guide to nature that also includes a master quiz and certificate they can earn.  Follow the Trail: A Young Person’s Guide to the Great Outdoors will introduce them to camping, animal tracks, weather, games and more outdoor fun.  Great color photos and tip boxes provide extra reading incentive.

And if you’re planning a family hike, be sure to read our 7 Tips for Hiking with Kids !



The Boy’s Book of Adventure: The Little Guidebook for Smart and Resourceful Boys

The Girl’s Book of Adventure: The Little Guidebook for Smart and Resourceful Girls

Kids can learn how to identify rocks, read a topographical map, take nature photos and dress/pack for a hike!  The colors and illustrations cater to each gender (which I don’t think is really needed) but the activities in both books will appeal to all kids.  Each books includes different activities with a few only a few that overlap.


Do your kids stump you with questions about animals & insects?  The Ask Dr. K. Fisher About Animals is a great resource to take along on nature walks and hiking adventures.  The book is a series of letters written to Dr. K. Fisher, each asking about the various habits or features of all types of animals. 



We are huge fans of these Take Along Nature Guides!  They have a great variety of topics and each guide includes tips on ‘what it looks like’ and ‘where to find it’ so searching for animals and nature items is a breeze!  The books also include some great hands-on activities for kids too.  Here’s a few of the titles in the series:

Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide

Wildflowers, Blooms & Blossoms

More Fun With Nature

Seashells, Crabs, and Sea Stars

Tracks, Scats and Signs

Rocks, Fossils & Arrowheads

Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies: Take-Along Guide


If you have fans of the Magic Tree House series, they’ll enjoy the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #23: Snakes and Other Reptiles: A Nonfiction Companion.  Enjoy learning about snakes, turtles, lizards and other reptiles as Jack & Annie introduce lots of interesting facts and stories.


What happens when an amazing book publisher and an awesome museum staff team up?  These outstanding field guides are born!  With the beautiful photos found in DK books and great hands-on activity ideas for kids, you’ll have tons of ways to explore nature this summer. 

Take along the Smithsonian: Rock and Fossil Hunter as you search for gems and fossils or grab the Smithsonian: Bug Hunter before you head out to catch fireflies.  You can also explore the night sky with the Smithsonian: Stargazer guide.


Things to take on a hike with kids

Here are a few great places to take your Field Guides:

Explore the Forest — Tips for Hiking with Kids

Visit a National Park

Explore a Day at the Pond


You might also like:


Create Your Own Nature Notebook