17 Award-Winning Children’s Books that Feature Outdoor Play

There are many benefits of outdoor play for your child, no doubt. Some of the most magical play takes place in nature. Children can explore their surroundings and develop meaningful connections with what surrounds them and to other children they play with. Reading books where the main character spends their time playing outdoors is a great way to inspire your child. In this post, you will find 17 wonderful award-winning children’s books that feature outdoor play!

When I was a little girl, I lived in a rather big suburban neighborhood in Fairbanks, Alaska. All the houses were designed virtually the same; a true cookie cutter neighborhood. There were multiple playgrounds (made of wood) and none of the neighbors’ yards were fenced in. Everyday, me and my two brothers would head outdoors and join other neighbors to play. The kids ruled the neighborhood!

I remember jumping rope in the street, playing hacky sack in the yard between the houses, shaking snowy trees in the ‘mini forest’ at the end of our street, launching neighborhood wide games of tag or hide and seek, burrowing tunnels in the mountain of snow that was piled up in the cul-de-sac after the first snow, and biking over to the baseball field to join in a game of baseball. We picked raspberries in a nearby field, we ate cookies at Rashawn’s house, drank Kool-Aid at mine and occasionally, we ran from moose. 

No doubt, times have changed. I often wonder how that neighborhood operates nowadays and if children continue to play the way we once did. 

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Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children

There are many benefits of outdoor play for children. Of course, the physical development of your child greatly improves the more they play outside. Outdoor play helps develop muscular strength, improve motor skills, and prevents childhood obesity. 

What about their emotional development? Magical things begin to take place when children play outside with others. Play means self-initiated and intrinsically motivated by the child. Children are wildly imaginative! They have a way of creating games with complex sets of rules and communicating those rules with others. They learn to take turns, share, and speak up when needed. Playing imaginatively is an essential part of your child’s development and giving them access to the wonders of the outdoors is a great way to enhance their development. 

This website provides you with a long list of benefits outdoor play has on your child’s development. I encourage you to check it out! http://parentingscience.com/benefits-of-outdoor-play/

Award-Winning Children’s Books that Feature Outdoor Play

Here is a list of 17 award-winning children’s books where the main character engages in outdoor play. Use these stories to inspire a conversation with your child about playing outside. What are some of the ways they love to play outside? This list of award-winning children’s books was curated by Courtney Shimek in her journal article titled, “Let Nature Be Your Teacher”: An Ecocritical Analysis of Outdoor Play in Award-Winning Picturebooks in the United States, published in Journal of Children’s Literature, vol. 47 (1). 

Other Ways Your Child Can Engage with Outdoor Play

Pitch a tent in the backyard and create a reading nook. Roast marshmallows around the fire pit and read a book about insects! Here are a few of my favorites!

National Geographic Ultimate Bug-Opedia

Oh, and check out this awesome bug catcher for kids! This is a great way to capture bugs safely and inspect what’s in nature around you! Aww, yeah!

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