Best Nature Guides

It’s one thing to go for a hike where your one mission is to reach the summit and get back down in record time. It’s another to slow down a bit and notice the natural ecosystems around you. Are you able to identify the bird resting on the limb of a cottonwood tree or the type of lichen growing on a rock, and do you know the different between a mountain lion and a bobcat? We’ve found four books that can help you (and your trail buddies and kids) develop a deeper relationship with the natural world. Pick the one that’s right for you.
Publish date:

Best for Young Kids

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World

Fun and Simply Presented. This gorgeous but simple nature guide ignites young children’s imaginations and helps answer basic but simple questions like, “What is the difference between a toad and a frog?”

What We Liked:

What makes this book so digestible for young children is the explanations are short but informative. You can learn the differences between a coyote, gray wolf and red fox in three sentences. And you can discover the lifecycle of a frog in one fun, illustrated infographic. While it stays away from scientific jargon and taxonomic classifications, the book still helps spur on children’s curiosity about the natural world around them. Get it here. 

Best Kids Guide to Pacific Northwest

Curious Kids Nature Guide

Regionally-Focused and Kid-Friendly. Young explorers in the Pacific Northwest will enjoy pulling this colorfully illustrated book out of their backpacks or beach bags to learn fun facts about the natural world around them.

What We Liked

Catering to young explorers in the Pacific Northwest, this primer covers the four most common habitats in the region, which makes it really relevant: the forest, beach, freshwater and backyard/urban parks. We loved that the author included what kids and families might spot in their backyards or neighborhood parks because being able to identify local flora and fauna can inspire kids to learn more about other habitats outside their everyday realms. The bullet points make information easy to digest and sidebars highlight fun and interesting facts. Its size makes it easy to pack in the car or put in a backpack for camping trips. Buy it now. 

Most Comprehensive

Natural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on Earth

Incredible Resource Packed with Photos. Produced by The Smithsonian Institution, this nearly two-inch thick resource book provides a deep visual dive into more than 6,000 species living on Earth.

What We Liked

If you’ve ever stopped to look at moss growing on a boulder along a trail, been captivated by a fluttering butterfly or wanted to know more about the bear wandering up a hillside, this book is one to keep on your coffee table. This incredible resource balances gorgeous photography with well-researched, in-depth scientific information, making it accessible to a range of ages from elementary-age students through adults. We love the engaging photography and how the book is organized by species like bacteria, rocks, plants and animals, making it easy to search for various living things. Buy it here. 

Best for the Indoors

Essential Succulents: The Beginner’s Guide

Informative and Beautiful. For anyone who has inadvertently killed their succulents, this book covers what you need to know to take care of and grow your own thriving succulents.

What We Liked

Even the most avid outdoors person may harbor a love for indoor plantings. With simple, beautiful photos and tips on how to care for succulents, this book can help even the most novice house plant owner cultivate succulents. We liked that this handy book was written by Ken Shelf, owner of Succulence, a garden and lifestyle store in San Francisco. Shelf has taught numerous workshops and classes on succulents and he seems to bring his depth of knowledge to the pages of this book. He covers 50 types of succulents, which can help you identify the succulents you own and those you may want to buy. We also liked that there are 8 DIY projects included in here to get our creative juices flowing. Get it now. 

This article was written by a third party for use in our affiliate program and has not yet been endorsed by our editors.