Winter Reading – Bringing Nature to Life at Home

The bustling summer months and the flurry of fall colors have come and gone, but the glories of a Wisconsin winter are upon us!  This January, much of nature has taken a quiet rest under the snowy drifts and cold winds of winter, but the great outdoors still has delightful wonders in store for those willing to brave the cold – especially here at the Catholic Ecology Center (CEC) where snowbirds – cardinals, shrikes, and winter wrens – can be spotted amongst the trees and prairie grasses, while rabbit tracks scurry along the trails and roads, and signs of otter life frequent the banks of the creek and river.

But if the cold and snow deter you from venturing outside, there is a warmer, cozier alternative. Storybooks can bring nature to life in your living room. Here at the CEC, we have gathered, and continue to gather, an extensive collection of nature and ecology themed children’s books for our various programs and for visitors to enjoy on trips to the CEC. We have corralled a wide array of fantastic writers and illustrators who help bring a sense of wonder and delight of the natural world to all ages….

Here are some of our favorites from this past year:

A Seed is Sleepy Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long collaborate with their rich talents to bring to life the tiny world of seeds. Sure to inspire hope for spring during the long, cold months of winter, this book is one of many that Aston and Long have crafted together. Other titles include A Rock is Lively, A Butterfly is Patient, A Nest is Noisy.

Over and Under the Pond, by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, follows a canoe journey of a mother and son. As they glide across a pond, they wonder at and imagine the world below, above, and around them. With up-close illustrations and a detailed list at the back of the book of all the creatures seen by mother and son, this book will inspire wonder and delight in children and adults alike.

For all honey lovers, Honeybee Man is sure to become a favorite. With collage drawings and charming text, illustrator Kyrsten Brooker and author Lela Nargi recount a summer month in Brooklyn, New York with Fred, his beloved bees, and the sweet gift of honey.

Anna’s Table – Caldecott-winning author Eve Bunting inspires children everywhere to find the little treasures that nature has to offer. After collecting a bounty ranging from beach rocks to butterflies, Anna builds a beautiful ecological exhibition – right in her own bedroom. Written in simple verse and bursting with colorful art from illustrator Taia Morley, this book is a must-have for all nature lovers.

Venturing into a cold, dark forest can be frightening – but in Owl Moon by Jane Yolen with illustrations by John Schoenherr, the beauty and wonder of the woods at night come to life. In first-person narrative, a young girl recounts the quiet stillness of the forest and fields as she and her father venture out into the winter moonlight hoping to catch sight of an elusive owl.

Sun BreadCharming illustrations and whimsical text by writer and illustrator Elisa Kleven bring to life the story of a baker in the middle of winter and her quest to coax back the sunshine with delicious, warm bread. Amid the wintery cold and darkness, homemade bread not only brings the sun out but induces friends and neighbors to join the fun! The last page of the story offers a recipe for young aspiring bakers to try their hand at Sun Bread.

Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Richard Jones- What does a fox do in winter? A young fox asks himself this question as the first snowflake settles on his nose. Going from neighbor to neighbor, inquiring what he is to do, the fox is stumped – he doesn’t like mud like the turtle and is not at all sleepy like the bear. Eventually finding a wise friend, he goes about doing what foxes do best in winter.