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10 Books to Rewild Your Child

Outdoor-based reads from board books to YA novels

Have you ever noticed that most of our favorite childhood books star animals? Maybe that’s because before we “grow up,” we feel a natural kinship with what’s wild. We wish we were friends with monkeys and lions. We speak to the trees and they listen. And we long to run free and explore the world. 

We’ve rounded up some books that speak to the free spirit of kids—and help them get back in touch with their wild side in the age of screens. From board books and picture books to Young Adult (YA) novels, here 10 tales to rewild your child.

My First Book of Nature by Alain Grée

Introduce babies and toddlers to the natural world through the colorful drawings of a famous French illustrator. This board book teaches that tot about everything from trees and rocks, to fruit and fish.

 

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema, pictures by Beatriz Vidal

“This is the cloud, all heavy with rain, that shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.” 

A tale of drought from the Nandi people of Kenya shows kids a way of life entirely rooted in and dependent on the natural world. Originally published in 1909, this story teaches a valuable lesson: nature sustains us all, whether we realize it or not.

 

Squeak! Goes Climbing in Yosemite National Park by D. Scott Borden, pictures by Mallory Logan

“Wow, how do you just stand on vertical rock like that?” Squeak asks.

Young climbers get the lowdown on the sport from a mouse that hops into a haul bag and makes it all the way up El Cap. Squeak introduces kids to the climbing dictionary and shows them how to face down their fears. Bonus: part of every book sale benefits the Access Fund. 

 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

“He’s just a boy, pretending to be a wolf, pretending to be a king.” 

No list of books about rewilding your kid would be complete without a nod to this classic. We all know how the story goes, but here’s a reminder: Max gets in touch with his wild side, imagining that his bedroom is a jungle filled with playful beasts.

 

Someday a Bird Will Poop on You: A Life Lesson by Sue Salvi, pictures by Megan Kellie

“Probably every single day, somewhere in the world, someone is getting pooped on by a bird.”

A day in nature isn’t always a walk in the park. From bug bites and unexpected downpours, to headwinds and bird BMs, this book imparts the key lesson that things don’t always go our way—and that’s okay. And for the Type II outdoor adventures in your child’s future, this lesson is invaluable. 

 

A-B-Skis by Backcountry’s own Libby Dudek, pictures by Nathan Jarvis

“A is for attitude, the way you think in your head. You decide how your day will go when you get out of bed.” 

This alphabet book by a former Olympian runs kids through the skiing experience, from chairlift rides to pizza turns down the bunny slopes. It all takes place in a colorful, animal-filled world that will make any kid excited to gear up for a day on the slopes. Libby also includes tips for parents to make your kid’s first ski day a positive one.

 

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

“A monkey! A real, live monkey! Ah! How delightful!”

Originally published in 1812 in Germany, this legendary chapter book tells the story of a Swiss family who gets shipwrecked en route to Australia. We follow the Robinsons for over a decade as they eke out an existence on a tropical island, building a treehouse, living in a cave, and growing their own food.

 

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

“… the most important rule of survival … was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work.” 

In this timeless YA novel, a 13-year-old boy must survive in the Canadian wilderness with only a hatchet after a plane crash. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t die! But he does teach your young reader some invaluable lessons about everything from wilderness survival skills to patience and positive thinking.

Call of the Sun Child by Francesa G. Varela

“This is the energy that is life, the glow of connection. In the crow that chases smaller birds. In the stream that flows downhill. In the flower, wilted after a storm, with holes chewed in it by caterpillars.”

This YA take on Climate Science Fiction—a genre that’s been dubbed CliFi—imagines a dystopic world in which humans must live in a windowless dome. But one day, a 16-year-old girl named Sempra becomes curious about life outside the walls of her artificial home. Call of the Sun Child will help your young reader appreciate our wild world, and become an advocate for protecting it.

 

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

“I miss the north side cliff and the waves below, and I miss the way the wind steals your breath like it never belonged to you in the first place.” 

Don’t let the disturbing premise scare you—this book will empower teen girls to take on the grisliest of situations, outdoors or in. Hailed as a feminist Lord of the Flies, Wilder Girls tells the tale of three best friends who must tackle an island’s wild forests after a virus spreads through their boarding school.