Great Books for Getting Kids Outside


Road trips are great. As a family, we love loading up the car and hitting the road. But I will be the last to tell you road trips are easy. If they were, there would be far fewer auto execs congratulating themselves on backseat DVD player sales and less of us writing “how to keep the peace on road trips” articles.

So if after all the potential hassle our only memories are of drive-through meals and scenery ticking past the window, I would have to say we’ve failed miserably. For our family the best part of road tripping is the getting outdoors part, spending time together as a family camping, hiking, and generally enjoying nature. A couple books I’ve been reading have helped us prepare for these kinds of trips and include a lot of great ideas for keeping the kids engaged.

Car Camping for Everyone by Mary and Bill Burnham

If you’ve never gone camping, what’s stopping you? You need just a couple things to start: gear and know-how. Gear can be tricky, but fair-weather tents are cheap enough and it’s pretty easy to find a place that will rent the stuff you need. Know-how, however, is as close as your local bookstore. The Burnhams have pulled together everything you need to know to have a great time in the woods—from the gear you’ll need, to preparing meals, to different games to keep everyone entertained.

Camping with Kids by Goldie Gendler Silverman

The previous book has a nice section on camping with kids, but for the whole story turn to Camping with Kids. Silverman has been the expert on camping with kids since she first published Backpacking with Babies and Small Children in 1975. A few years back her publisher asked if she would take a look at car camping with kids and here you have it. She includes a lot of great information. Turn to this book for menu ideas and ways to teach kids woodcraft. Throughout the book you will find call-outs with helpful tips from experts.

I Love Dirt! and Let’s Go Outside! by Jennifer Ward

I love these books! So many ideas for doing stuff outside. Jennifer Ward is a creative genius; she has to be to come up with 52 great ideas for each of these books. Now, you don’t have to be on a camping trip to go for a moonlight walk or collect and press flowers, but if you find yourself wondering how to fill the days in camp, just throw one of these books in the pack. You could fill a month with just I Love Dirt!. For city-dwellers, Ward also has another book coming out soon. It’s a Jungle Out There! has 52 ideas for finding and enjoying nature in urban areas.