This week, Year 3 have challenged me to choose books based on the theme of nature, just in time for the weather to be good enough to enjoy books outside!
For our younger children, I have chosen Mrs Noah’s Garden by Jackie Morris and James Mayhew.
The flood is over – but while Mr Noah builds a house out of the ark, Mrs Noah creates a garden. Luckily her famous pockets contain seeds and she has some help from the children – and the creatures. Midsummer morning brings some very special surprises! This magical story from the creators of Mrs Noah’s Pockets explores new beginnings, care for nature and, above all, home.
James Mayhew’s vibrant spreads are the perfect backdrop for Jackie Morris’s lyrical tale which touches on themes of refugees and migration, but my biggest take away from Mrs Noah’s Garden was a new found love for the outdoors, and the creativity it inspires, which leads perfectly onto my next choice…
The Big Book Of Nature Art by Yuval Zommer is packed with twenty-two easy art activities inspired by nature. Each of the activities can be achieved in four simple steps using natural materials combined with recycled or found materials from around the home. Drawing on Zommer’s years of experience running art workshops for children, The Big Book of Nature Art includes his tips for stress-free ways to get creative with kids.
Each nature art activity requires no more than five minutes set-up and five minutes clean-up, making them easy to achieve and fun for everyone involved. The book also encourages children to see the creative potential in the natural and everyday treasures all around us – from twigs, seed pods, petals and leaves through to loo rolls, pencil shavings, takeaway cutlery and kitchen string.
Little nature artists will enjoy making paper-plate birds; leaf bugs; coffee-cup owls; tree bark bats; and seed pod creepy crawlies, as well as scenes for their creatures to dwell in, from watery worlds to underground tunnels.
For our older children, I have picked Witchstorm by Tim Tilley.
Will believes in witches and the stories he’s grown up with – of mythical storm-lions, disappearing villages, and secret songs. Most of all, he believes the tales of magical treasure hidden in the Fens centuries ago. Treasure that he has to find, to solve the mystery of his Ma’s disappearance. Then, in the eye of a storm, a witch arrives. She holds the key to finding the lost treasure – a powerful magical object that can summon storms. But someone else is searching for it too. If it falls into the wrong hands, Will’s beloved home could be destroyed, and with it, his chances of ever finding his ma. Join Will on an epic quest filled with riddles, ruined towers, cloud cities and broomstick chases, on a journey to save everything he loves before time runs out.
An astonishingly atmospheric adventure, that feels timeless. Once you start, you will not want to put it down. Tim Tilley’s keen observations about the flora and fauna transport the reader to Will’s world, a time of rapid industrial growth, where motor cars are in their infancy. A strong environmental message about living in harmony with the natural world is woven effortlessly into this story of witches, wildlife, courage and hope. I’ll definitely be paying more attention to the clouds from now on.
And finally, I Am The Seed That Grew A Tree, named after the first line of Judith Nicholls’ poem ‘Windsong’, is a lavishly illustrated collection of 366 nature poems selected by Fiona Waters. There is one for every day of the year, including leap years and is filled with familiar favourites and new discoveries, written by a wide variety of poets, including – John Agard, Roger McGough, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare, and many more. There are in fact 185 named poets and many anonymous poems to explore and enjoy including much-loved classics, contemporary favourites, traditional rhymes and poetry in translation.
Published in collaboration with the National Trust, this anthology is a brilliant introduction to a wide range of nature poetry, through which you can explore the wonderful world of animals, plants, trees, weather and much more with each carefully selected poem. Stunning original artwork lets you travel through the changing seasons and immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of the natural world. This is the perfect book for children (and grown-ups!) to share at the beginning or the end of the day, or just to dip into.