• Best Nature Books with Black Kids for Readers of All Ages

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    There’s a sense of balance and belonging that is found when you’re surrounded by the wonders of nature. I personally have found refuge in the outdoors since my early years and share this enjoyment with my toddler.

    Growing up in a small, rural community, surrounded by farmland and trees, I spent a lot of my time outside with my feet in the dirt and riding four-wheelers through the forests.  This is one of the many untold narratives of African Americans in the outdoors.

    Encouraging Diversity and Inclusion in Outdoor Spaces

    The earlier you expose children to nature, the more likely they are to develop a life-long love for it. Also, going outdoors is beneficial in early childhood development, providing support in the sharpening of language and problem-solving skills.” 1

    However, the participation in outdoor spaces, namely state and national parks and forests, is disproportionately white with many factors contributing to this, including people of color being three times more likely to live in places with no immediate access to nature. 2 Also, another consideration is the lack of representation in narratives revolving around the outdoors.

    We can work towards encouraging diversity outdoors by centering black voices and providing protagonists that these communities can relate to and see themselves in. This is reaffirmed by researchers at NC State’s College of Natural Resources who firmly believe that the outdoors can become more inclusive once the narrative changes. 2

    10 Picture Books About Nature with Black Kids

    To support in this effort to build diversity outdoors by changing the narrative and encouraging young readers to get outside, we have curated a recommendation of the best outdoor books with black lead characters. From books about our relationships with animals to books about adventure and deforestation, these titles are perfect for bringing nature home.


    1. Over and Under the Pond, by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal (Buy)                                           

    In Over and Under the Pond, readers will discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. Credit to: Chronicle Books


    2. Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon (Buy)                                                                           

    With vivid illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, Samara Cole Doyon sings a carol for the plenitude that surrounds us and the self each of us is meant to inhabit. Credit to: Tilbury House Publishers


    3. Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson (Buy)                                                                                                           

    When Bear and Boy meet in the woods, they're scared at first. Really scared. But soon these kings of the wild realize that no mountain is too big to conquer. Credit to: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


    4. Ruby’s Birds by Mya Thompson (Buy)                                                                                                                 

    Meet Ruby, a plucky young girl who uncovers the wild side of her city neighborhood with the help of a grown-up friend. When Ruby realizes there are amazing birds right in her neighborhood, her imagination takes flight. Credit to: Cornell Lab Publishing Group             


    5. Hiking Day by Anne Rockwell (Buy)                                                                                                               

    Beloved author Anne Rockwell celebrates nature and the outdoors with a gorgeous new picture book about a child's first mountain hike! As they climb up and up the path, they see everything from a friendly toad to a prickly porcupine, tall leafy trees to tiny red berries. Credit to: Aladdin


    6. The Vast Wonder of the World by Melina Mangal (Buy)                                                                             

    Ernest Everett Just was not like other scientists of his time. He saw the whole, where others saw only parts. He noticed details others failed to see. He persisted in his research despite the discrimination and limitations imposed on him as an African American. Credit to: Millbrook Press


    7. How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder (Buy)                                                                                                 

    Equipped with a camera and determination, a little girl sets out to track down an elusive red fox. But foxes are sneaky, and it proves more difficult than she thought. Credit to: Square Fish


    8. The Tree in Me by Corinne Luyken (Buy)                                                                                                     

    Through poetic text and exquisite illustrations of children reveling in nature, this picture book explores the various ways we as human beings are strong, creative, and connected to others. Credit to: Rocky Pond Books                   


    9. A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams (Buy)                                                                                                             

    An elegantly illustrated story of a boy who gets absorbed in drawing on the beach. This wonderful read-aloud book brings to life a summer experience that is all too familiar for young children. Credit to: Astra Young Readers                                                                                 


    10. Ugly Tree by Erica Montgomery (Buy)                                                                                                                     

    This beautiful story gently nudges the reader to seek a deeper view into what they see every day and to find the value they may have missed. Credit to: Elegant Warrior LLC


    In addition to the above, you can read The Adventures of Keva: The Power of the Trees, which is an energetic story that celebrates nature, adventure, and the magic of trees, published by Zayzay Literary Co.  There are also several organizations at the forefront of promoting diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces, including Outdoor Afro, Black Outside, Latino Outdoors, and GirlTrek

    We strive to create and promote stories that showcase the multi-faceted lives of the BIPOC community, with a special focus on black narratives. Within the nature category, the hope is that there will be increased representation centered around the voices of people of color.



    1. www.nurseryworld.co.uk

    2. https://cnr.ncsu.edu/news/2020/12/nature-gap-why-outdoor-spaces-lack-diversity-and-inclusion/

  • How to Use Picture Books to Encourage Speech and Language Development

    All products were chosen independently by our editorial team. This guide contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made.

    Are you an introverted parent? Do you overthink conversations or find it difficult to start a dialogue with your young child? Has this created concerns about your child’s speech and language development?

    Talking to your baby promotes communication and literacy skills and supports social and emotional development. The significance of this can put a lot of pressure on parents, especially those that suffer from speech impediments, social anxiety, or who are just not talkative in general.

    As an introvert myself, I internalize and often find myself in quiet observation of the world around me. This caused me concern after becoming a new parent, as I was overwhelmed by the statistics and parenting advice from pediatricians, bloggers, family, and friends that encouraged speaking often to my newborn. I recall staring into my son’s beautiful eyes, thinking about his present and future. Then it hit me, "Don’t just think. Speak!"

    I started with your typical elevator talk about the weather and the news of the day. "Mommy enjoyed our tummy time," I said. I then progressed into naming the items in the room and outdoors. "What a beautiful blue sky" I continued. However, despite my attempts, I felt the conversation dwindling. I was certain in these moments that I had ruined my son’s future as a public speaker.

    Then, it dawned on me. Books!

    I ran to his bookshelf and began to read stories that became our personal favorites, such as Jabari Asim's Who's Toes Are Those. There was no word shortage because the books constantly provided new words to learn. The conversation was natural, as the book provided the topics and context.

    These stories became my resolution to introversion. I had found my mom hack!

    How Picture Books Help Kids Develop Literacy Skills

    It is stated that reading picture books to children foster enjoyment in learning in early childhood and provides important skills in vocabulary, sound structure, and language. Also, children who are read to at least three times per week have a better foundation for early learning and development 2.

    Picture books can help parents foster relationships and dialogue with their children, which in turn can support the building of these early literacy skills. Here are a few parenting tips on how to do it.

    Make sounds: Infant language development (First 3 months)

    During the first 3 months, babies begin to use their voice and body to communicate. For example, they’ll smile, laugh, make cooing sounds, and move their arms and legs when they’re interested or excited 1.

    This is a perfect time to introduce sounds and use your personal instrument (i.e., your voice). Whisper, sing, and make animal noises! This keeps them engaged and teaches them their range. ⠀⠀

    Use props: Infant language development (after 9 months)
    After about 9 months of age, your child will let you know they’re interested in something by staring, pointing, touching, and grabbing 1. Do you have a companion to your story, whether a stuffed animal or a hat? Now it’s time to create an immersive experience! You may also consider books that encourage touching, such as
    Never Touch a Porcupine by Rosie Greening and Stuart Lynch.

    Name pictures: Infant language development (about 12 months)

    By about 12 months of age, your child will probably understand the names of things they see or use often, like "cup, ‘doll’ or "toe" 1. Use this time to continue to point out objects, creatures, and people in the story.

    Don't try to rush through the pages at your pace, but rather give them time to take in the images and explore the page. Encourage them to locate images and assign words. Kind of a "Where's Waldo" for children. The children’s book, Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke, is one of my favorite books for these purposes as it’s filled with exciting imagery.

    Ask questions: Toddler’s language development (1-2 years) 
    As your toddler’s language develops between 1 and 2 years, you and your child might start to have simple conversations 1. This is the time to give the child a chance to use their reasoning skills.

    When reading stories such as Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney to my son, I will ask questions such as, "Why do you think the little llama is sad?" or "why is momma llama running?" I have also recently come across the book  Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty which has a lot of fun questions throughout and teaches the importance of asking “Why?”.

    Thanks to these interactions, even at this early age, I’m noticing that my son’s starting to tie together actions and responses. A bonus to this, he is now asking me more questions!


    We all need a lifeline. Books can provide this for those new parents that want to inspire a love for learning and improve literacy in their children. Get started by checking out the previously recommended books to read and those written by Zayzay Literary Co., such as The Adventures of Keva: The Power of the Trees.


    1. https://raisingchildren.net.au/babies/connecting-communicating/communicating/talking-with-babies-toddlers

    2. https://www.readingrockets.org/article/dialogic-reading-effective-way-read-aloud-young-children