Librarian’s Corner: The Natural World in Fiction

by Ann Jacobus on October 21, 2014

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This week, guest blogger Monica Harris has picked a peck of nonfiction, fiction and poetry that will feed young readers hungry for information about the natural world. Today is fiction.

For readers who want to discover the natural world through a story setting, there are plenty of books that deal with the environment, animals, and plants.

Holly Wild Series by Lori Taylor (ages 7-12) are set in the woods of Michigan. Holly Wild is a young naturalist who loves investigating the outdoors. She and her helpful friends (the GeEK – Geo-Explorer Kids) examine Michigan habitat, legends and myths, plus science in a mid-grade mystery setting. Readers are encouraged to draw in the book (how cool is that?) and activities promote environmental literacy. I love that the protagonist is a young girl who isn’t afraid to get dirty. We need to encourage more young girls into the sciences and this series does an excellent job of that.

My Side MountainMy Side of the Mountain  by Jean Craighead George (ages 8-12) is a Newbery Honor Book, an ALA notable book, and winner of the Hans Christian Anderson Award Honor Book. In this story, a young boy named Sam Gribley runs away from home into the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. He builds a home in a hollowed out tree and learns to survive with the companionship of a falcon and a weasel. If your reader likes this book, make sure to recommend the sequel books, On The Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful’s Mountain, that both look at Sam’s continued story.

HatchetHatchet by Gary Paulsen (ages 10+) is another Newbery Honor Book with a heightened sense of tension for your advanced reader. The protagonist, Brian Robeson, is flying to visit his father when the single-engine plane he’s traveling in crashes. Brian is left alone in the Canadian wilderness with a jacket and a hatchet, which his mother gave him as a gift. Brian must learn to survive in his unfamiliar surroundings while also dealing with his past. If your reader enjoys this story, you can also recommend The River (ages 10+), which is a sequel to Hatchet, or Brian’s Song (ages 10+) which examines what would have happened if the Brian wasn’t rescued at the end of Hatchet.

On Friday, we’ll explore the natural world through POETRY!

Monica HarrisMonica is an author, assessment writer, and creative writing instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has 15 published books and over 225 magazine publications. She considers herself an eclectic writer because she writes about anything – ticks, roosters with laryngitis, and even a loud boy who wakes up the dead. Monica lives with her husband in Kalamazoo, Michigan where she enjoys hiking, belly dancing, and strolling through cemeteries. Learn more here.

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