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Happy Birthday to our National Parks! 100 years ago on August 25th, the National Parks were created to preserve the unique and wild areas of this vast and beautiful country.
Author Terry Tempest Williams says, “Our national parks are memory palaces where our personal histories reside.”
No truer statement can be said as my family and I live one mile from the entrance to the Smoky Mountains National Park visited by 11 million people every year and I get to say that this is my back yard.
Here’s a look at our mountains, taken just a couple of days ago by my talented friend Deb Campbell.
National Parks Booklist
Now a century has past and it’s time to celebrate with what else but books!
There are some really great reads just not about the parks but chapter books set inside the parks. These books are good for middle grade readers but work just as nicely for young readers who may feel more comfortable listening.
A National Park Booklist | Picture Books
This is an excellent book!! The illustrations are bright and beautiful coupled with a magnificent story. Each set of footprints are shown in their natural environment and they are accompanied by a full page of clues that start hard and get easier before you are shown the animal that the clues are about. There are a wide variety of animals and the prints they leave behind.
America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book, by Don Compton
America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book is a coast to coast journey featuring 18 of our most visited national parks, with six as stunning, double-page pop-ups: Everglades, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite national parks. See two bear cubs scrambling up a tree to safety, an alligator charging its prey, a dory boat crashing through the rapids of the Colorado River, a Red Jammer tour bus coming out of a mountain tunnel, Old Faithful Geyser erupting 13 inches above the page, and a mother Grizzly rising up to defend her cubs. Fascinating park action springs to life in cleverly designed mini-booklet pops. The beauty of our national parks comes to life in these pages. You and your family will be inspired to visit our national parks. Beside the large pop-ups with illustrations based on the Works Progress Administration posters from the 1930s, it also features mini pop-ups that show action in the parks. It was a Gold Medal Winner-Children’s Picture Book (All Ages) by Independent Publisher Book Awards 2013.
Who Pooped in the Park? series, by Gary D. Robson
Follow Michael and Emily as they learn about the animals in our national parks by the tracks and scat they leave behind. Each book in the series takes place in a specific park .Very engaging and fun.Early-Young Readers
By: Jean Craighead George
Illustrated by: Wendell Minor
A beautifully written story by Newbery Award winner Jean Craighead George about protecting and conserving the wildlife around us. Masterfully told by an Indian storyteller as he guides 5 children into the sea grass of the everglades. He shares how the land’s formation was created and how it has changed to become the subtropical home to many special and unique animals, and plants. He invites them to be cautious and protective of the nature they have been entrusted with.
High Tide in Hawaii
By: Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca
Illustrated by: Sal Murdocca
Hawaii is home to no less than 8 national parks where natural wonders abound such as Volcanoes National Park. It’s really spellbinding. When the Magic Tree House whisks Jack and Annie off to Hawaii it’s for more than a vacation-they’re in search of a fourth kind of magic for Morgan! On the way they help an island community survive a tidal wave and, of course, take some time out to surf! Ultimately, they discover that the magic that they have found in this set of four books are everyday magics: the magic of the arts, the magic of the natural world, the magic of community; and the magic of fun.
By: Craig Brown
The Grand Canyon is one of the most amazing of our national parks which was created in the early 20th century. On the Southeastern rim is a little town called Supai which can only be reached by horse, helicopter, or mule. We learn of Anthony Paya, the postman who delivers mail to his hometown on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, by going down the steep awe inspiring Grand Canyon to deliver the mail.
By: Jason Chin
This is one of our all time favorites.A ordinary subway trip is transformed when a young boy happens upon a book about redwood forests. As he reads the information unfolds, and with each new bit of knowledge, he travels―all the way to California to climb into the Redwood canopy. Crammed with interesting and accurate information about these great natural wonders, Jason Chin’s first book is innovative nonfiction set within a strong and beautiful picture storybook. Chin’s approach makes this book a must-have!!
Susanna of the Alamo: A True Story
By: John Jakes
“Remember the Alamo!” is one of the most familiar battle cries in American history, yet few know about the brave woman who inspired it. Susanna Dickinson’s story reveals the crucial role she played during that turbulent period in Texas-American history.
By: Barb Rosenstock
Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein captures the majestic redwoods of Yosemite in this little-known but important story from our nation’s history. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir on a trip to Yosemite. Camping by themselves in the uncharted woods, the two men saw sights and held discussions that would ultimately lead to the establishment of our National Parks.
By: Lita Judge
Follow Tom Moran on an unbelievable real-life adventure! In the summer of 1871, a young painter named Thomas Moran joined a team of scientists heading for the untamed land called ?the Yellowstone.? He couldn?t believe what he found there?steaming cauldrons of sulfur, belching geysers, even a thousand-foot-deep canyon. Tom had never ridden a horse or slept under the stars before, but the paintings he created on his journey from city boy to seasoned explorer would lead to the founding of America?s first national park.
Trained as a fine artist, Lita Judge captures the wild and rugged beauty of Yellowstone in this stunning book she wanted to write her whole life.
National Parks Booklist | Middle Grade Chapter Books
Mysteries in Our National Parks books treat intermediate readers to the heart-pounding adventures of brother-and-sister sleuths, 12-year old Jack and 11-year-old Ashley Landon. Traveling with their mother, Olivia, a wildlife biologist, and their father, Steven, a nature photographer, the kids visit many of the country’s magnificent National Parks where they always seem to stumble upon a puzzle that only they can solve.
From confronting environmental challenges like the effect of snowmobiles in Alaska’s Denali park and speedboaters injuring manatees in Florida’s Everglades, to encountering dangerous wildlife like grizzly bears in Montana’s Glacier National Park or wild white mustangs in Utah’s Zion, the Landon’s adventures will keep kids on the edge of their seats while they learn about our country’s natural heritage and the role we all have in understanding and protecting it for the future. There are 13 books in the series all set in a different national park.
This series of leveled readers is based on the PBS series The Wild Kratts. The books take readers along with the zoologists the Kratt brothers as they explore different animal topics.
This book series is really popular around here in East Tennessee. Tommy “Bubba Jones” and his sister Jenny “Hug-a-Bug” learn more about the Great Smoky Mountain National Park than they ever thought they would when Papa Lewis lets them in on a family secret: The family has legendary time traveling skills! With these abilities, Bubba Jones and Hug-a-Bug travel back in time and meet the park’s founders, its earliest settlers, native Cherokee Indians, wild animals, extinct creatures, and what the park was like millions of years ago. With this time traveling ability also comes a family mystery, but the only person who can help solve the mystery is a long lost relative who lives somewhere in the park. Explore the Smokies with Bubba Jones and family in a whole new way. There are 3 books so far in the series.
These books are well written and chalk full of vital and usable information. There are 10 books in all so far in the series. The author website has incredible guides for the various books in the series and is a great resource itself.
Here’s a bit more information about the series from Mike Graf’s Website.
“Join the Parkers, an intrepid family of four, as they adventure into the national parks. Nearly ten year old twins, Morgan and James, explore the natural and historic wonders of such destinations as: Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Great Smoky Mountains, Olympic, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, the Badlands, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore, Arches, Canyonlands, Acadia, and Grand Teton. Along the way, the family meets other travelers, rangers, and colorful characters pertaining to each park.
Adventures with the Parkers- a series for kids and families- is packed with action and excitement, as well as interesting facts about plants and animals, geology, the history of the parks, wilderness safety, and environmental and preservation issues effecting the parks. The books also offer tips and information on travel plans, great places top hike, ranger programs, historic points of interest, and much, much more.
Each book in the series contains maps and full color photographs that represent a possible family’s journey. The books are realistic fiction- everything that the family experiences could happen in real life, or maybe did happen to someone and the details were changed to fit the characters.
The Parkers books are a great way to get to know the national park you are planning to visit, or they also make a perfect souvenir for your stay in the park. Either way, you’ll have a fantastic outdoor adventure with you wherever you go while reading these books.”
Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii by Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet
Set inside the beautiful big Island of Hawaii and inside Volcanoes National Park Travels with Gannon and Wyatt are a fast track national park adventure. When an ancient map is found on a growing archeologist, the explorers shift their attention to uncovering the map’s secrets. To their astonishment, they discover that it might lead to one of Hawaii’s most puzzling mysteries, the burial place of the islands most-revered ruler, King Kamehameha the Great! Adding danger to an already perilous journey, someone else is after the map, someone who seems willing to do just about anything to get it.
National Parks Booklist | Non-fiction
These national park guide books are a must have. Full of information and many of them contain fantastic activities as well.
Happy 100th Birthday, National Parks! Join the centennial celebration by reading all about these greatest of American treasures — from Acadia to Zion — in preparation for a parks visit sometime soon. Filled with color photos, information on animals, fascinating lists, fun facts, maps, cool things to do, conservation tips, and much more — think of this book as your trusted guide to these most majestic of places.
From Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty, from Gettysburg National Battlefield to Mount Rushmore, National Parks is the only kid-friendly, family-oriented book that covers all of the U.S. national parks, plus famous monuments and landmarks. With a lively text and hundreds of color illustrations and photographs throughout, it offers fascinating, memorable information on every aspect of the parks, such as the history, geography, natural wonders, native wildlife and birds, and unique features that make each park special.
Organized alphabetically by state, National Parks takes readers on a whirlwind trip to 75 locations, including Denali National Park, Hot Springs National Park, Everglades National Park, Fort McHenry, White Mountain National Forest, Ellis Island, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Zion National Park, Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, Mt. Hood National Forest, and many more.
Also included are dozens of activities, such as quizzes, word and picture hunts, and car games, as well as a detachable national-park quarter collector, so kids can collect each of the 56 commemorative quarters to be issued by the U.S.
Junior Ranger Activity Book: Puzzles, Games, Facts, and Tons More Fun Inspired by the U.S. National Parks!, by National Geographic Kids
Calling all explorers and nature-lovers! From Acadia to Zion, discover all 59 of the United States’ amazing National Parks in this jam-packed book of games, trivia, jokes, fun facts, and so much more, all inspired by the National Parks outdoor-based Junior Ranger Program. Great for generating pre-trip excitement, long car rides, poking around historical sites, or general learning, these fun and sometimes silly activities will entertain while they draw kids into the majestic and historic importance of America’s national parks. Check out the most amazing park habitats, plus awesome sights and animals you might see, from birds to bears. Fun facts are jam-packed onto every page, so kids learn something amazing about each cool park.
This activity book contains illustrations of twelve North American national parks, in which children have to search for objects. It is both original and fun, and children will enjoy discovering different animals and landscapes and while looking for some hidden objects. In addition, on each page an intruder has escaped from the park and sneaked his way into the picture.
Perfect for emerging readers, the Wonders of America series takes children on a tour of the landmarks that make our country great. From the Statue of Liberty to Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon to Niagara Falls, children will love discussing the amazing things they’ve learned about the geography and history of our great nation. Plus, check the inside of the packaging for a bonus set of tips to help your reading star soar to new heights. Included in this Ready-to-Read value pack are:
The Grand Canyon
The Rocky Mountains
The Statue of Liberty
It was world-famous sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s dream to carve sixty-foot-high likenesses of four presidents on a granite cliff in South Dakota. Does that sound like a wacky idea? Many at the time thought so. Borglum faced a lot of opposition and problems at every turn; the blasting and carving carried out through the years of the Great Depression when funding for anything was hard to come by. Yet Mount Rushmore now draws almost three million visitors to the Black Hills every year. This is an entertaining chronicle of one man’s magnificent obsession, which even today sparks controversy
In eight chapters covering everything from “Yosemite’s Rich Past” to “Endless Things to See and Do,” Mike Graf calls on the park’s most knowledgeable insiders — biologists, rangers, even the park’s resident entertainer — to share their most exciting stories and best advice. Colorful photos and illustrations enable young readers to get up close and personal with Yosemite’s waterfalls, Giant Sequoia trees, sheer granite walls, and, of course, those famous black bears. This guide also recommends gear for a national park visit and offers safety tips, a wildlife observation how-to and birding guide, tips on managing a wildlife encounter, and a guide to rock climber lingo and a difficulty ratings system. Also featured are detailed accounts of famous climbs, tips on how to protect the park and keep it green, an historical timeline, and a list of popular hikes.
If this booklist has inspired you to get moving and find a national park near you,…GREAT. NOW Go! Get Moving! Don’t Wait Another Minute!
If you’re planning a trip here are some sites to help you out.
This site has info and photos of some of the more famous national parks.
This is the companion site to Ken Burns documentary on his National Park Series which aired on PBS. There are incredible video clips, loads of national park and specific park info as well as a place for you to share your own national park stories.
This is the official National Park Website. It has info on every single park as well as great teacher and student info.
The national parks were created to conserve our wild spaces. The National Parks Conservation Association makes sure this continues to happen. It’s a great resource website sharing all of the parks resources including natural,cultural, and historical.
We love Mr. Nussbaum and his national park site. There is wonderful links leading to much information about the parks. It’s all kid friendly.
National Geographic Travel shares which parks are the best ones to visit with kids.
Want to Know What’s Happening At Each Specific Park?
The following are sites that explore the national parks. Please check the park you’re look for to see daily and weekly activities.
Has great info on hiking with children.
This is the place to go to see all of the Junior Ranger Programs as well as a place to download info and activity books.
What can you do with your kids inside various national parks? This site offers great suggestions.
This is a great resource featuring hiking games, other activities one can do in any of our national parks and activity booklets and much more.
There is nothing better than a field guide to identify various plants, animals, insects etc. This is a great resource !!!
This is in no way a complete list. Please feel free to share your favorite national park books in the comment section below. Happy Reading and Many Happy National Park Adventures!
This list is not a comprehensive list-just a round-up of our family favorites. If you know of a wonderful children’s book that celebrates this nation’s National Parks, please leave your suggestion in the comments below. I’d love to know about more titles to add to my reading list!
Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.