Inspiring books that teach about the outdoors

Exploring the outdoors is an important part of education. Our recommended reading list brings the outdoors to life through engaging and challenging stories.

We love those subtle life lessons that get weaved into children’s books (and adult books). Take ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Ronsen; the lesson learnt isn’t how to hunt a bear, but how to overcome difficulties by going through them (the forest, for example) not over or under them. By working through hardships, we can succeed, and achieve things. What a golden nugget of information!

So many other wonderful books are set in the great outdoors, and encourage children to go on an outdoor adventure; learn from nature and environments, and be inspired to explore.

Here are five of our favourites, with some activity ideas and topics for further discussion. *

1) Blow, Wind, Blow!

By Dom Conlon
Suitable for: Ages 5 to 7

Chase the wind through oceans, countryside and other landscape as seeds are carried and life is created. This is the third book in the Wild Wanderers series that takes you on a journey around the world with ‘wind’. It is a poem that delves into biodiversity, the environment, and all the challenges that surround these themes, whilst inspiring children to explore their planet.

Try this:

  • Discussion topic: What is biodiversity? And how does ‘wind’ and the other elements impact it?
  • Activity idea: Write a poem about an outdoor adventure.

2) Where my Wellies Take Me

By Clare and Michael Morpugo
Suitable for: KS2

The illustrations within this book alone will encourage children to want to get outside and explore. Following the books main character, Pippa, you become immersed in her love of the great outdoors and ‘where her wellies take her’. Whether it’s sunshiny or cold, you’ll discover how her adventures unfold each day and who she encounters. A simple context, but written as a type of scrapbook with poetry in parts; you really gain a greater appreciation of the outdoors after reading this book.  

Try this:

  • Discussion topic: What is it about nature and the outdoors that inspires you?
  • Activity idea: Go on an ‘exploration walk’, collect items and take photos along the way, then create your own scrapbook.

3) The Wild Robot

By Peter Brown
Suitable for: KS2

Can a robot survive in the wilderness? When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a violent storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.

Sensitivity warning: Towards the end of the book, there is an attack made on the animals and Roz with guns.

Try this:

  • Discussion topic: How would you fair using the woodlands to survive? What would you use to camouflage yourself?
  • Activity idea: Take part in organised bushcraft activities to understand survival. Use outdoor time to create camouflages and shelters.

4) Sky Hawk

By Gill Lewis
Suitable for: Ages 9+

A powerful adventure story about landscape and the natural world. Another thought-provoking book that centres around two main characters, Callum and Ilona, who discover something amazing; ospreys (also known-as sky hawk) on the farm Callum lives on. Ilona wants to keep it a secret, but soon the whole neighbourhood knows. Callum and Ilona follow the osprey’s migration route to Gambia, but tragedy strikes. It’s a gripping story about friendship and trust, and raises moral questions.

Try this:

  • Discussion topic: How could we better protect our wildlife and planet?
  • Activity idea: Explore your local woodlands or parks and identify birds and their habitats.

5) Lord of the Flies

By William Golding
Suitable for: Ages 13+

So, this is very dark fiction, but an outdoor adventure all the same. It’s a book that really makes you think, opening up many themes around morality, ‘groupthink’, independence and survival. The synopsis is: a British aeroplane crashed on an uninhabited island and a group of British school children are left to fend for themselves with disastrous consequences. Some are ordinary students and others are part of a musical choir with an established leader. The book portrays their descent into savagery. Two of the boys find a conch and use this to convene the islanders, then one of the two boys, Ralph, commands authority laying down three laws: to have fun, to survive and to constantly maintain a smoke signal. Order quickly deteriorates, groups form, and rebel with shocking outcomes.

Try this:

  • Discussion topics: What laws would you put in place if you were leader? What does ‘groupthink’ mean, and is this a viable way to make decisions?
  • Activity idea: Learn survival skills by taking part in organised bushcraft activities.


* Suggested reading ages are indicative to independent reading.