This year has been a doozy. From sharing the successes and challenges of reopening nature preschools after months of distance learning to supporting each other in making the transition outdoors (or in many cases 100% outdoors), we’ve learned so much from each other over the last 9 months. To end the year on a high note, we wanted to host a different kind of forum--one that, while still an opportunity to learn from each other, focused more on fun and connection. With the holidays upon us, we thought it would be a great time to chat about books, so we turned our December forum into a Holiday Book Fair!
Thank you to everyone who attended our Holiday Book Fair, with special thanks to Dr. Michelle Martin and Dr. Carla Gull, our wonderful and thoughtful presenters. Whether you were able to attend the event live or not, we promised to share all of the amazing resources that were highlighted and we’re here to deliver on that promise. Below you’ll find recommended book lists, a guide for building an anti-bias library, book reviews, and more!
Diverse and Inclusive Children’s Books
First up, a few recommended reads from Dr. Michelle Martin, featured in an article in Outside Online, The Best Books Featuring Black Children in the Outdoors.
Michelle's current favorite, which she read during the forum, is The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann.
One question forum participants had for Michelle was what she looks for when choosing quality books that feature children of color. Michelle said it's important to consider the author (is it an own voices book?), how the character's cultural background is represented, high quality illustrations, and how engaging the story is for children, among a few other things. When choosing books with an anti-bias lens, we've found the 'Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children's Books' by Louise Derman-Sparks to be a great resource. Find the guide here, on the Social Justice Books website.
When it came to sharing their favorite books, there was no shortage of great suggestions!
Check out the titles recommended by members of our community, below:
Wintery Books for Children
Next, Dr. Carla Gull highlighted a few books that she enjoys for winter reading, including fiction and nonfiction selections. Carla regularly reviews books for the International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education. View Carla’s previous book and resource reviews, all available to download for free: Fort and Den Making Resources, Embracing More Diverse Representations of Children in Nature Inspired Books, Connecting to Nature with Ruth Wilson, and “Loose Parts” in Children’s Outdoor Play Environments.
Here are Carla’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ suggestions:
We received more excellent suggestions from our community, who shared their winter favorites below!
Great Reads for Adults
To round out the forum, we listened to a clip from a NAAEE webinar featuring author and poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil reading an excerpt from her essay ‘Comb Jelly’ from her recently published book, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, which was named as a Barnes and Noble Book of the Year.
Watch the entire webinar with Aimee, ‘Nature as Inspiration and Transformation: An Intro to Nature Poetry,’ here.
And since we all deserve a “treat yourself” moment, we asked participants to share their favorite books for adults, particularly those that ground you in your practice or help you reset as this year winds down and a new one begins.
Here’s what was shared:
Check out more resources from Natural Start and friends below.
NatStart2020 Virtual Conference: Beginning with Dr. Martin and Liz Mills’ keynote address on the lack of diversity in children’s literature, our virtual conference includes at least a handful of sessions on literature and storytelling with young children, among many other topics. You can still register for the conference and access over 100 sessions, with time to watch and rewatch until July 2021.
Teaching for Change- Freedom Reads: Anti-Bias Book Talk Series By Allyson Criner Brown
Diverse BookFinder- Where are the books about Black Kids in Nature?